Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Yossi Benayoun struck a superb hat-trick to ensure Liverpool's Champions League dream remains intact as they hit eight without reply to overwhelm Besiktas at Anfield.
The Israeli completed his treble at the Kop end as other goals from Peter Crouch (2), Steven Gerrard and substitute Ryan Babel (2) gave everyone hope that Rafael Benitez's men can still reach the knockout stages. On a night of milestones, in which Sami Hyypia made his 100th appearance in European competition and Rafa Benitez celebrated his 50th Champions League match in charge of Liverpool, the Reds started strongly and could have taken the lead on four minutes but Andriy Voronin steered his shot wide after a great knock down by Crouch. The visitors looked shaky in defence and three minutes later Crouch somehow powered a header wide after John Arne Riise's cross found him unmarked six yards out before Alvaro Arbeloa's heavy touch prevented him from getting a shot on goal after wonderful link up play with Benayoun. The Israeli was enjoying himself and on 13 minutes he was unlucky to see his first-time shot cannon back off the near post after Javier Mascherano had played in Alvaro Arbeloa down the right. It was only a matter of time until Liverpool got the breakthrough and it was fitting that the impressive Peter Crouch was the man to get the all-important first goal. Voronin's attempted through ball was diverted into the towering forward's path on 19 minutes and after his first effort was saved by Hakan Arikan in the Besiktas goal, he reacted instantly to fire home the loose ball. The Reds were in complete control and three minutes later Fabio Aurelio's corner was met by a powerful header by John Arne Riise but the Norwegian's goalbound effort was brilliantly headed off the line. Crouch then fired a sizzling effort just wide from a tight angle before Benayoun netted his third goal in a Red shirt on 32 minutes. Andriy Voronin broke down the left and when his searching cross found the Israeli unmarked in the box, he composed himself before drilling the ball past the keeper. It was a comfortable lead for Liverpool to take into the interval and it got better within minutes of the restart. Voronin cut in from the left and played a reverse ball to Riise and when his stinging shot was parried into Benayoun's path the midfielder tapped home the simplest of goals. And it was déjà vu on 56 minutes when the diminutive playmaker completed his hat-trick at the Kop end, gleefully snapping up the rebound after Steven Gerrard's powerful free-kick was pushed into his path by the bemused Arikan. The hosts were playing some wonderful football by this point and on 69 minutes Gerrard got in on the act when he latched onto Voronin's return ball to power in on goal and smash in the fifth of the night. It means the skipper is just one away from equalling Michael Owen's European record of 22 goals and he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Voronin, who clocked up his fourth assist of the evening with an inspired Cruyff flick. The Reds then capped an incredible night with the sixth on 78 minutes when substitute Ryan Babel finished off Benayoun's cross with an audacious flick at the near post. It was all going Liverpool's way and on 81 minutes Ryan Babel charged down an attempted clearance and watched on in delight as it looped over Arikan and into the net. Babel could have had his hat-trick on 84 minutes but his close range header smashed back off the bar before Crouch finished what he had started way back in the first-half, when he headed home Benayoun's cross two minutes from the end.

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