Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rafa Benitez pleased with Fernando Torres-Robbie Keane strike force

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez declared himself pleased with the first outing of new strike force Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane after the Merseyside club cruised to a 4-0 win over Rangers in their challenge match at Ibrox.
Keane, who cost Liverpool £20million when he moved from Tottenham last week, linked well with the Spaniard in a first half which Liverpool bossed for long spells.
Torres gave the visitors the interval lead from close range after Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor had fumbled a long-range drive from French youngster Damien Plessis.
After both sides made five substitutions each at half-time, with Torres staying inside, 19-year-old striker David Ngog struck from the edge of the box for his first goal since signing from Paris St Germain before Yossi Benayoun made it three at the far post on the hour.
More substitutions followed before Xabi Alonso slotted the fourth from the penalty spot after Ibrox defender Kirk Broadfoot had clumsily pulled down Krisztian Nemeth in the box.
Benitez, who declined to comment on the continuing speculation about Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry coming to Anfield, was pleased with the way his front two led his side to an easy victory.
"Both players showed good movement and so did (Steven) Gerrard," he said.
"Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun were coming inside so I felt we had five offensive players, very clever and with quality so we were a threat all the time.
"Keane is very clever and he worked hard. He is very happy here and hopefully we will see a lot of good movement and also goals from him.
"Gerrard, Torres and Keane playing together was one of the keys to keeping possession.
"But I feel we have some good players in the team, different players with different qualities and a good mentality."
Despite the scoreline, Benitez, who also straight-batted questions about the continual booing of Keane by the home fans due to the former Spurs player being a Republic of Ireland international, insisted the Ibrox side offered a difficult challenge.
He said: "The first half was okay but in the second half they needed to go forward in front of their supporters.
"We had more space and we scored the second goal on the counter-attack.
"But from the start of the game we wanted to impress and we wanted to win.
"We worked hard, had plenty of possession and wanted to keep a high tempo with the ball.
"We scored once and had one or two problems near the end of the first half but we controlled it.
"In the second half, with the game more open, it was easier for us to keep the high tempo."

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