Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everton 0-2 Liverpool

Fernando Torres struck twice in three minutes as Liverpool comfortably eased past Everton in the Merseyside derby.
Torres slid home Robbie Keane's cross after 59 minutes then pounced on a loose ball to score from close range after Phil Jagielka tackled Dirk Kuyt.
Tim Cahill had Everton's best chance after 13 minutes but mis-kicked from Mikel Arteta's corner.
Everton's misery was complete when referee Mike Riley sent Cahill off for fouling Xabi Alonso after 80 minutes.
It was a victory that gives Liverpool their best start to a Premier League season - with star striker Torres ending a barren six-game sequence in style and keeper Pepe Reina not having a save to make in the match.
But Everton's struggles continue as this marked their third home defeat in three league games this season - and they now face a pivotal Uefa Cup clash with Standard Liege in Belgium on Thursday with the tie locked at 2-2.
Everton recalled Tony Hibbert for the first time this season after knee surgery, allowing Phil Neville to push into central midfield alongside £15m club record signing Marouane Fellaini.
Liverpool dominated possession for lengthy periods of the first half, but failed to test Everton keeper Tim Howard.
Everton's Cahill had the best chance after 13 minutes when Arteta's corner squirmed through to find him unmarked, but the Australian midfield man could not make proper contact when unmarked only eight yards out.
Torres was unhappy at what he clearly felt was an over-physical approach from Everton's defenders, and his frustration increased when he saw a goal-bound shot on the turn blocked by Jagielka.
The Spanish striker finally tested Howard with a tame effort after 51 minutes, and Steven Gerrard was only inches off target seconds later with an angled drive that had Howard scrambling.
Torres finally got it right after 59 minutes when he was allowed to escape at the far post to expertly steer in a perfect cross from Keane.
And he slammed in a second from close range three minutes later when he pounced after Jagielka's excellent tackle denied Kuyt right in front of goal.
He thought he had completed a five-minute hat-trick when he beat Howard again from close range, but referee Riley awarded a free-kick against Kuyt.
Everton had barely threatened the Liverpool goal, but they almost pulled one back with 13 minutes left when Joleon Lescott's cross flew across the face of goal with Fellaini and Yakubu unable to apply the finishing touch.
And Everton's miserable afternoon got worse a minute later when Cahill was shown the red card by Riley for a foul on Alonso.
Everton substitute Louis Saha shot just wide with seconds remaining - but it was a minor inconvenience to Liverpool keeper Reina on what was otherwise an afternoon of dominance for Rafael Benitez's side.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Saha 63), Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Fellaini, Osman, Cahill, Yakubu.Subs Not Used: Nash, Baines, Castillo, Vaughan, Nuno Valente, Rodwell.
Sent Off: Cahill (80).
Booked: Fellaini, Yakubu, Neville.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt, Alonso (Leiva Lucas 86), Gerrard, Riera (Aurelio 67), Torres, Keane (Pennant 86).Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger, Babel.
Booked: Alonso, Torres, Arbeloa.
Goals: Torres 59, 62.

Att: 39,574
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Liverpool 2-1 Crewe

League Cup 3rd RoundTuesday 23rd September 2008 @ 8pmAnfield
A second string Liverpool eleven moved through to the next round of the Carling Cup on an evening which saw Philip Degen grab his Liverpool debut - and break two of his ribs.
Daniel Agger started his second competitive fixture in a vastly revamped side which also saw N’Gog, Plessis, Insua, El Zhar and Pennant, along with Philip Degen announcing his Liverpool arrival.
Liverpool started well, Pennant built himself plenty of room to attack and was a menace down the wing. Degen was providing him with plenty of cover, bombing down the wing at every opportunity. Kicking towards the Kop the reds received a free kick in the 15th minute, and it was big Danny Agger who smashed the free kick in to the back of the net.
Have that Rafa!
Within 10 minutes though the visitors had levelled. From a corner the header Cavalieri managed to get a hand to the ball but it fell in to the path of O’Conner who poked the ball home.
The final chance of the half again fell to a Liverpool centre-back, when a Pennant corner found Hyypia who fired in a shot only to see it blocked.
In the 58th minute Pennant managed to get a cross in from the byeline which Lucas headed home. Leiva had an especially poor game, and his goal - though well taken, is unlikely to remove the doubts many supporters have in their minds about his role.
Bad news was to follow when Phillip Degen clutched at his chest after an inocuous looking challenge. The player was bent over, and eventually hobbled slowly off the Anfield surface. Carragher came on to replace the player who was confirmed later as having suffered two broken ribs.
Torres entered mid second half and Keane was sent on late on and Torres could have grabbed a brace but for some decent goalkeeping from Crewe.
The reds won without looking fantastic, but without breaking too much of a sweat. Liverpool move in to the fourth round.
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Degen (Carragher 73), Hyypia, Agger, Insua, Pennant, Leiva Lucas, Plessis, El Zhar (Keane 87), Babel, Ngog (Torres 66).Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Dossena, Alonso, Skrtel.
Goals: Agger 15, Leiva Lucas 58.

Crewe: Collis, Woodards, Baudet, O’Donnell, Jones, Moore, Bailey, O’Connor, Carrington (Grant 81), Zola (Miller 78), Pope (Elding 87).Subs Not Used: Tomlinson, Abbey, Rix, Schumacher.
Goals: O’Connor 25.
Att: 28,591
Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Liverpool 0-0 Stoke

Liverpool were left lamenting a second-minute disallowed goal after they were held to a goalless draw at home by newly promoted Stoke.
Steven Gerrard had the ball in the back of the net after 76 seconds from a free-kick - only for the goal to be controversially ruled out for offside.
Stoke continued to frustrate the home side as Thomas Sorensen saved Robbie Keane's 51st-minute strike.
And Andy Griffin's late goal-line clearance ensured the match was drawn.
After the heights of a 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United last week, Liverpool will consider the solitary point a setback for their title ambitions, although they briefly took top spot in the Premier League before they were deposed by Arsenal.
The draw will be especially frustrating after they dominated the match from the first whistle.
Manager Rafael Benitez continued his rotation policy by resting Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva - who all began against Manchester United - with Fernando Torres, Andrea Dossena and Gerrard all returning to the starting XI.
With two goals in Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League win over Marseille on Tuesday, Gerrard needed one more to become the 16th player to net 100 goals for Liverpool.
And the England midfielder had the ball in the back of the net after just 76 seconds courtesy of an in-swinging free-kick - as well as a horrific goalkeeping error from Sorensen - only for the assistant referee to rule out the goal for offside against Dirk Kuyt.
Keane had the ideal chance to score his first goal in a red shirt since his £20m summer move from Tottenham on seven minutes, but his 10-yard shot sailed straight into the grateful hands of Sorensen.
The Dane was forced into a more taxing save when he palmed away Xabi Alonso's curling 20-yard strike on 28 minutes.
But for all their attacking endeavour and creativity, Liverpool failed to penetrate a obdurate and well-drilled Stoke defence intent on frustrating the home side's roll call of internationals.
Left-back Danny Higginbotham proved particularly stubborn, intercepting any dangerous cross inside Stoke's penalty area, while substitute centre-back Leon Cort - on for the injured Ibrahima Sonko - proved equally effective.
Liverpool began the second half brightly and Keane forced a low save from Sorensen after good work from Alvaro Arbeloa on 51 minutes.
The Spanish right-back was involved in another goal-scoring opportunity two minutes later, this time providing the cross for compatriot Torres, whose eight-yard header just evaded Sorensen's left-hand post.
But despite's Stoke's desperate rearguard action, Liverpool could not break the deadlock.
Torres - normally so clinical in front of goal - was denied his second of the season when his 12-yard shot deflected off the diving Cort for a corner.
With time ticking by, Benitez brought on Babel, who scored the winner against Manchester United, for winger Albert Riera in the hope of fresh attacking impetus.
But despite the red onslaught, Stoke held firm as Liverpool failed to capitalise on any of their numerous chances.
Jamie Carragher, Babel, Kuyt and Gerrard continued to bombard Sorensen's goal, but none could engineer a vital breakthrough as Stoke, who had Griffin to thank for an 88th-minute goal-line clearance with Torres lurking, recorded a valuable point at Anfield.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera (Babel 65), Keane (Benayoun 73), Torres. Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Agger, Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Degen.
Booked: Skrtel.

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Abdoulaye Faye, Sonko (Cort 22), Higginbotham, Lawrence (Cresswell 66), Olofinjana, Diao, Delap, Kitson (Fuller 78), Sidibe. Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Whelan, Tonge, Wilkinson.
Booked: Fuller.
Att: 43,931
Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).

Marseille 1-2 Liverpool

Steven Gerrard's brace helped Liverpool to a hard-fought win at Marseille in their Champions League Group D opener.
Lorik Cana beat the Reds offside trap to slot the French side ahead but Gerrard curled in a sublime outswinging 22-yard shot to level.
Gerrard scored his 99th goal for Liverpool when he slotted in a retaken penalty after Ryan Babel was fouled.
Mamadou Niang glanced a header wide and had a strike saved by Pepe Reina late on but the Reds held on for a win.
Liverpool had beaten Marseille 4-0 last December but found the current side a much-improved unit and hungry to avenge that defeat.
Marseille gave the Reds a stern test but found Liverpool's defence - in particular
The midfielder was starting for the first time since recovering from a groin injury along with striker Fernando Torres, who had an early looping far-post header tipped over by Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda.
The home side did not let that affect their attacking intentions and Bakari Kone's pace was unsettling Liverpool, while Marseille's quick one-twos were threatening to pierce the Reds backline.
Marseille's quick one-twos were threatening to pierce through the Reds backline and they almost succeeded when Niang was played through on goal, but he blazed high from a tight angle when he might have been better squaring the ball.
The Reds hit back as Babel beautifully turned his marker but could not produce a finish to match as he fired over.
Gerrard forced Mandanda into a smart save with a low 22-yard shot before Torres headed a difficult bouncing ball over at the far post.
Marseille's positive approach made for an open and entertaining game and they went up the other end to take the lead.
Benoit Cheyrou - the brother of former Liverpool midfielder Bruno - unhinged the Reds offside trap by quickly controlling and playing Cana through on goal to slot home.
But Liverpool's skipper delightfully shot into the far side of the goal to equalise.
Ronald Zubar brought down Babel to concede a spot-kick and Gerrard confidently side-footed in at the second time of asking after Torres encroached into the area during his first attempt.
Liverpool tightened up defensively after the break and Vitorino Hilton had a header saved and Karim Ziani shot over as Marseille threatened.
The French side left themselves open to the counter-attack as they pushed forward and Babel almost took advantage.
A low Albert Riera cross fell to him six yards out and he blasted a shot that was saved at point-blank range by Mandanda.
Liverpool appeared to be feeling the effects of their tireless efforts in beating Manchester United last Saturday and survived two late Marseille chances.
Niang headed wide in the 89th minute before seeing a powerful angled shot saved by the leg of Reina shortly before the final whistle.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:"It (Gerrard's first goal) was amazing. A fantastic goal.
"We played on the counter-attack and it could have been better but three points is a massive result for us.
"They have a good mentality. We knew it could be difficult and it was. The team as a whole was very good in defence."
Marseille: Mandanda, Bonnart, Zubar, Hilton, Taiwo, Cana, Cheyrou, Kone (Samassa 75), M'Bami (Valbuena 41), Ben Arfa (Ziani 57), Niang.Subs Not Used: Riou, Zenden, Kabore, Erbate. Booked: Zubar.
Goals: Cana 23.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Dossena, Gerrard (Benayoun 69), Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Kuyt (Keane 86), Torres (Riera 64), Babel.Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Agger, Alonso, Degen.
Booked: Skrtel, Leiva Lucas.
Goals: Gerrard 26, 32 pen.
Att: 45,000
Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marseille v Liverpool

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are set to be fit for Liverpool's Champions League opener in Marseille on Tuesday.
Gerrard (groin) played 22 minutes in Liverpool's 2-1 win against Manchester United on Saturday but Torres (hamstring) was an unused substitute.
Fabio Aurelio is ruled out with a calf injury but Javier Mascherano (knee) is set to start and Lucas is in the squad.
Marseille should be at full strength with Mathieu Valbuena (groin) and Hatem Ben Arfa (knee) both expected to start.
The pair came on as substitutes in Marseille's 1-1 draw at Girondins Bordeaux on Saturday.
Valbuena's spectacular goal at Anfield gave Marseille a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in last year's group stage but he was also in the side beaten 4-0 by Rafael Benitez's men two months later.
"We're full of confidence and must not show any inferiority complex," said the 23-year-old.
"We have no reason to be fearful. Liverpool are the favourites in the group and it's a good thing to start against them."
Liverpool go into the game buoyed by their first league victory over United, the Premier League and European champions, since April 2004.
"We did well against Manchester United but we must be focused on the next game, and that is Marseille," said Benitez.
"We must not allow ourselves to get carried away. We played well on Saturday but the Champions League is different.
"We have talked to the players about putting Manchester United out of their minds and just concentrate on the future."
Last season Liverpool began their group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw against Porto and then lost at home to Marseille and away to Besiktas.
They responded with convincing wins against Besiktas and Porto at home but it was not until the final match, the 4-0 win in Marseille, that their place in the last 16 was secured. "We do not want be making as hard work of it as we did last season to get through the group stage," said Benitez.
"Marseille are a better team than last season
when we met them. They are more organised and more aggressive.
"But we want to win the first game, and continue it that way - if we can do things better from the start this time around, it will be better for my heart."
Torres will hope to be 100% fit for the trip to Atletico Madrid, his former club, where Liverpool play on 22 October.
Benitez, therefore, may pair Robbie Keane and Dirk Kuyt in attack at Stade Velodrome.
Marseille's new English signing Tyrone Mears had hoped to feature but will miss out, with first-choice defensive regular Laurent Bonnart preferred.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Liverpool 2-1 Man Utd

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez earned his first Premier League win over Manchester United courtesy of Ryan Babel's deserved late winner.
Carlos Tevez had stunned the Reds after three minutes by expertly sidefooting in a Dimitar Berbatov pull back.
United keeper Edwin Van der Sar palmed a clearance against Wes Brown and saw it roll into his net for the equaliser.
The Reds started to dominate and Babel scuffed in a shot for the winner before United's Nemanja Vidic was sent off.
The victory was Benitez's first in the top flight over United since he took over in the summer of 2004 and was achieved without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres in the starting line-up.
Despite their star men being on the bench after returning from injury, Liverpool produced a performance of real verve to turn around a match which looked out of their grasp during the opening stages.
Three points seemed unlikely after Benitez saw his side fall behind in worrying fashion after just three minutes as United debutant Berbatov made an immediate impact for his new team.
He was reunited with ex-Tottenham strike partner Robbie Keane at Anfield as the duo lined up on opposing sides at Anfield.
And, while Keane has struggled to make an impact for Liverpool, Berbatov had no such trouble.
He latched on to a clever ball by Anderson and pulled a ball back from the byeline for Tevez, who lost marker Javier Mascherano, to unerringly beat Pepe Reina.
Dirk Kuyt volleyed just wide for the home side but the Reds had been shaken by the goal as they struggled to come to terms with the passing and power of the visitors.
Van der Sar was the main weakness in his side's dominance and gave a sign of things to come when he palmed a cross to Kuyt.
He redeemed himself by blocking the striker's point-blank shot but had no such fortune shortly afterwards
The Dutchman bemusingly dived to punch the ball clear - after Xabi Alonso's shot had deflected into the United box off Patrice Evra - only to push the ball against Brown and into the United net.
Just as the first goal drained Liverpool of their belief, the leveller had the reverse effect, although they escaped a scare when Tevez put a shot over at the near post from a low Anderson cross.
The home fans were also buoyed by the goal and their team's play and tried to inspire them to greater heights after the break.
Liverpool responded by taking a stranglehold on the game and Keane chipped a ball to put Benayoun through on goal.
But the Israeli's control took him a little wide and allowed Van der Sar to block his acute angled shot.
Berbatov had become a peripheral figure for the visitors as they struggled to find the form with which they started the match.
But, despite being on the backfoot, they did gave a warning of their counter-attacking threat as a dipping Ryan Giggs strike was tipped over following Gerrard's loss of possession.
Liverpool continued to push and probe and were rewarded when Mascherano stole the ball from Giggs as he tried to shepherd it out of play for a goal-kick.
The Argentine passed to Kuyt and he found an unmarked substitute Babel, whose shot bounced before going into the United goal to send the home crowd into raptures.
Vidic's dismissal for a second bookable offence on 90 minutes compounded United's misery after he lead with his elbow while contesting an aerial challenge with Alonso.
Liverpool, meanwhile, briefly moved top of the Premier League until Chelsea overtook them on goal difference after beating Manchester City in an evening game.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: "The fans deserved the win and so do the players after their fantastic work-rate and effort they have put in.
"We played better after the break after conceding an early goal in the first-half. It was a good game and we deserved to win."
Manchester United assistant boss Mike Phelan:"We were only in the game for seven or eight minutes and after that we did not perform.
"They bossed us out of the game and their tactics worked as they put us under pressure.
"We never responded and we did not react after the break and we succumbed to the pressure.
"We did not take control of the game and we struggled and now we have to get back to basics."

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Benayoun (Gerrard 68), Alonso, Mascherano (Hyypia 87), Riera (Babel 71), Kuyt, Keane.Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Torres, Ngog.
Goals: Brown 27 og, Babel 77.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Rooney, Scholes (Hargreaves 66), Carrick (Giggs 46), Anderson (Nani 78), Tevez, Berbatov.Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Evans, O'Shea, Fletcher.
Sent Off: Vidic (90).
Booked: Tevez, Vidic, Nani.
Goals: Tevez 3.
Att: 44,192
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool

Liverpool and Aston Villa played out a cagey goalless draw at Villa Park.
John Carew was denied by the feet of Pepe Reina, while David Ngog shot just over the bar after being set up by Robbie Keane in a dour first half.
Keane was put clean through by Javier Mascherano after the break but scuffed his shot wide when in front of goal.
Substitute James Milner had a late chance to wrap up all three points on his return to the club, but Reds keeper Pepe Reina saved comfortably.
With Chelsea held by Tottenham, Liverpool had the chance to go top of the league on a ground where they have enjoyed plenty of success over the years.
But it was a Liverpool performance desperately short of creativity and in the end they were left hanging on for the point.
Gareth Barry's bitter on-off transfer saga over the summer meant there would be extra spice to the clash.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and his opposite number Martin O'Neill shared a polite handshake before the game, but it seemed both were more concerned with avoiding defeat than going for the three points.
Liverpool's attack was already looking blunt when they lost Fernando Torres to injury inside the first half hour.
The Spanish striker appeared to tweak his hamstring when chasing down a poor pass from Mascherano.
His replacement Ngog could have broken the deadlock just before half-time when he was teed-up by Keane, but he shot over under pressure from Martin Laursen.
Other than that half-chance Liverpool were barely a threat on the Villa goal in the opening 45 minutes.
The ineffective Lucas fired well into the stands, Xabi Alonso attempted to lob ex-Reds keeper Brad Friedel from just inside his own half and Dirk Kuyt drilled into the side-netting.
Villa were the much more fluent side, with Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carew offering pace and creativity.
Carew had their best chance after Barry had slipped in a probing pass for Ashley Young, who cut it back for the Dutchman but his tentative sidefoot shot was easily saved by Reina's feet.
Both sides picked up the pace in the second half, with Liverpool starting more brightly and Kuyt threatening from an Alonso corner only to be muscled off the ball by Curtis Davies.
Andrea Dossena saw his powerful shot deflected off target by Nicky Shorey's body, while at the other end of the pitch Stiliyan Petrov flashed a shot just past the post.
Mascherano released Keane through on goal but he mis-hit his shot, although credit must go to Nigel Reo-Coker for brilliantly tracking back to put him off.
Milner had the chance to mark his return to Villa Park with the winner, but his curling effort was too close to Reina.
In the dying stages Laursen had a free header from close range but could not direct it on target.
It ensured Aston Villa's first goalless draw in over a year and means they have only picked up five points at home to Liverpool out of a possible 33.
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:"It was a tough game and I thought they came here and played a physical game.
"I think in the end that was probably the right result.
"We have a habit of scoring goals so I think us managing to keep a clean sheet is an absolute positive for us."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:"In the first-half both teams had more or less same opportunities and in the second half I thought we started well.
"In the last 15 minutes they were pushing quite a lot. It was a game that we could have won and so could they.
"It is not that we should have finished quicker. I think you have to give credit to the defenders."
Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young (Milner 64), Laursen, Davies, Shorey (Gardner 79), Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Knight, Salifou, Routledge.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt (Aurelio 70), Alonso, Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Keane (Benayoun 79), Torres (Ngog 30).Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Agger, Babel, El Zhar.
Booked: Skrtel, Dossena.
Att: 41,647.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).