Sunday, April 12, 2009

Liverpool 4-0 Blackburn

Liverpool kept up the pressure on title rivals Manchester United with a commanding home win over Blackburn without my idol, Steven Gerrard even playing in the match.
Fernando Torres put them ahead with a brilliant swivel and volley into the corner after controlling on his chest.
Torres was in irresistible mood and headed in a Xabi Alonso free-kick as the home side dominated proceedings.
Daniel Agger fired in a ferocious 30-yard strike late on before David Ngog nodded in from point-blank range to round off the impressive win.
There had been a poignant build up to the last match at Anfield ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 fans died during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
A minute's silence was impeccably observed and it was a significant occasion as well as a significant game - one which Jamie Carragher had called the most important league match of his career as Liverpool chase a first title since 1990.
Carragher gathered the Reds players in a huddle before kick-off to deliver a rallying call and duly backed up his words with actions.
He flighted a ball to Torres, who controlled it with his back to goal before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the far corner past keeper Paul Robinson's despairing dive.
It was a goal of the highest quality and one which Javier Mascherano should have added to after a swift counter attack.
The Argentine had a one-on-one after being played in by Dirk Kuyt only to sidefoot too close to keeper Paul Robinson, who blocked the ball away.
Torres blazed the rebound high but the Reds were in inspired form and were zipping the ball about with confidence and purpose.
Emiliano Insua and Albert Riera, in particular, were combining to penetrative effect down the left flank as Blackburn were left chasing shadows.
Insua whipped in an inviting cross for an unmarked Kuyt, who failed to capitalise on the chance by heading straight at Robinson.
But Liverpool did not have to wait long to double their lead as Torres again showed his finishing prowess by nodding in Alonso's free-kick.
Blackburn afforded the hosts far too much time and space, which was a surprise considering their precarious position in the table, although injuries to a number of key players did not help.
Riera went close with a couple of shots as Liverpool continued to cruise, although Blackburn centre-back Christopher Samba nearly made the home side pay for not being as ruthless in the final third during the second half.
The ball fell to him at the far post but the makeshift striker slipped as he got his shot away and Jose Reina saved in a rare moment of action on his 200th appearance for Liverpool.
The home side eventually increased their lead when Agger delivered a piledriver into the top corner and Ngog added the fourth in injury time after Lucas headed across goal as the Reds moved top of the table before Manchester United's game against Sunderland at 1500 BST.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
"We had confidence and were always in control. The first goal was very important, it opened the game up and we were able score.
"My only concern was that we did not score more. Goal difference will be very important if this title race goes to the wire.
"After what happened in midweek against Chelsea, that was the perfect response. We have done our side of the job, the pressure is on Manchester United now."
Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce:
"I think there was a little bit of fear in the team. We should have got tighter, instead we just let them play their game plan.
"They are certainly capable of winning the title, even if Manchester United have a game in hand. "If Liverpool keep playing like that and continue with that pace and confidence, it is possible they can win it.
"There will be a lot of twists and turns yet and they certainly believe they can do it."

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