Tuesday, May 19, 2009

West Brom 0-2 Liverpool

West Brom suffered Premier League relegation after losing to Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard robbed Shelton Martis before dinking the ball in for the first, with Dirk Kuyt driving home a shot in the second half to make it 2-0.
The home side were denied a penalty for a Leiva Lucas tackle on Marc-Antoine Fortune while Luke Moore hit the post.
West Brom's late surge even provoked a heated exchange between Jamie Carragher and Alvaro Arbeloa, with the Liverpool defenders angrily pushing one another.
Arbeloa had blocked a Fortune shot but Carragher was unhappy at the Spaniard's failure to close down the Baggies forward sooner and the Liverpool centre-back still appeared to be fuming after the final whistle.
West Brom went into the match without striker Roman Bednar, who was suspended by the club pending an investigation into newspaper allegations that he bought drugs after the recent 3-1 victory over Wigan.
Despite the absence of the Czech international, the Baggies stuck to their attacking principles throughout and were backed by a vociferous and loyal crowd.
They wasted numerous chances during their late rally but the real curse of their season has been poor defending, and that weakness again reared its head to undermine their efforts after a promising start.
Liverpool had seen their title hopes ended after Manchester United beat them to the Premier League crown after getting the point they needed with a draw against Arsenal on Saturday.
And, the combination of Liverpool's deflation with West Brom's desperation for at least a draw to stave off relegation, saw the home side quickly take a stranglehold of the game.
The hosts were only denied taking the lead by a smart double save from Reds keeper Jose Reina.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres inadvertently flicked on a corner to Jonathan Greening at the far post but the Baggies skipper saw his first-time shot saved and the rebound blocked by the legs of Reina.
West Brom's energy, enthusiasm and hunger had the visitors rocking before the Reds belatedly raised themselves from their stupor.
Torres and Emiliano Insua had shots blocked as they tried to shoot through a crowded Baggies defence before Liverpool were gifted the lead.
Centre-back Martis dallied on the ball and Gerrard robbed him of possession, drove through on to the home goal and lifted a shot over the on-rushing keeper Dean Kiely to score his 24th goal of the season.
They almost went further behind but Kiely tipped over a flicked Torres header form a Gerrard cross.
The Baggies had to commit more men to attack after the break and, after being wrongly ruled onside, were nearly rewarded.
Menseguez crossed for Fortune, who missed the ball as he fell under a challenge from Lucas with the referee waving away appeals for a spot-kick.
The Baggies were leaving themselves short in defence and Liverpool eventually took advantage when Kuyt manoeuvred himself to the edge of the box and drove in a low shot.
West Brom kept pressing and stretched a Reds defence which needed a lunge from Carragher to divert a Fortune shot over before the Baggies striker sent a point-blank header horribly over.
But the Reds closed out the win to move on to 83 points, which is their highest points total since 1987-88 when they notched 90 points on their way to the old Division One title played over 40 games instead of the current 38 of the Premier League.
West Brom, however, now face another season in the Championship after only one season back in the top flight following their promotion last year.
West Brom: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Martis (Borja Valero 56), Olsson, Donk, Brunt, Mulumbu (Moore 68), Greening, Koren, Menseguez, Fortune.Subs Not Used: Carson, Filipe Teixeira, Meite, Simpson, Wood.
Booked: Greening, Olsson.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Agger, Carragher, Insua, Lucas, Mascherano (Alonso 51), Kuyt, Gerrard, Benayoun (Ngog 73), Torres (Babel 68).Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Riera, Skrtel.
Goals: Gerrard 28, Kuyt 63.
Att: 26,138
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

West Ham 0-3 Liverpool

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were back in tandem to devastating effect as Liverpool returned to the Premier League summit - at least temporarily - with a comfortable victory at West Ham United.
Liverpool's captain and the Spain striker were making only their 12th league appearance of the season together at Upton Park.
And they gave a demonstration of what Liverpool have missed in their absence as they spearheaded the win that put Rafael Benitez's side back on top of the table on goal difference - although title favourites Manchester United crucially have two games in hand.
The pair combined as Liverpool took the lead inside two minutes when Torres unlocked the West Ham defence with a perfect pass that allowed Gerrard to run clear and round West Ham keeper Robert Green to finish in style.
And, when Torres was fouled by Luis Boa Morte seven minutes before the interval, Gerrard scored from a rebound after his penalty was saved by Green.
Liverpool wrapped up the formalities six minutes from time when substitute Ryan Babel scored from Dirk Kuyt's cross after his first effort was blocked by the unfortunate Green.
West Ham entered the game with their sights set on qualifying for the Europa League via seventh place, but they never recovered from Gerrard's opening salvo and anxious moments were few and far between for Liverpool.
Radoslav Kovac headed Mark Noble's free-kick over the bar, but their best opportunity was wasted in almost comic fashion by David di Michele just before half-time, when he stumbled and fell to the ground as looked poised to round Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina and reduce the arrears.

Liverpool made light of the absence of influential midfield man Xabi Alonso, out injured after the tackle that earned Newcastle United's Joey Barton a red card at Anfield last Sunday, and always carried too much firepower for West Ham.
Benitez admitted before the game that all Liverpool could do was to keep winning and hope to force a mistake from Manchester United, and it was mission accomplished as they comfortably negotiated a fixture that was widely seen as potentially hazardous.
It means United drop to second place, at least until they play neighbours Manchester City on Sunday, and while the odds remain firmly in favour of the title staying at Old Trafford, Liverpool and boss Benitez can rightly take much satisfaction in the fact they have pushed them all the way.
They Reds will also reflect on the fact that their two players of undoubted world-class quality, Gerrard and Torres, have been unable to inflict their deadly partnership on the Premier League on so many occasions this season.
West Ham boss Zola, meanwhile, was given a close-up and sobering view of the gap between his side and those operating at the top end of the table.
Liverpool knew only victory would suffice if they were to harbour serious hopes of pushing the title race to the wire - and they got the perfect start as they delivered the swiftest of blows to take the lead.
Torres slipped a slide-rule pass through to Gerrard, and as West Ham's defence appealed in vain for offside Liverpool's captain rounded Green and finished expertly, never looking for a moment like he would squander the opportunity.
West Ham's confidence was knocked by that early setback, but they did finally muster a threat on Liverpool's goal after 26 minutes when Kovac beat Reina to Noble's free-kick, only to send his header over the top.
But any hopes of a West Ham revival looked to be snuffed out seven minutes before the interval when Gerrard doubled Liverpool's lead after an incident that left the home fans fuming.
Boa Morte clearly felt he has been fouled near the edge of his own penalty area, but foolishly reacted by pulling Torres' shirt inside the area, with referee Alan Wiley perfectly placed to give the decision.
Gerrard saw his spot-kick superbly saved by Green, but reacted first ahead of West Ham's defenders to steer in the rebound as the keeper scrambled desperately across his goal.
West Ham then missed an opportunity to grasp at a lifeline in a farcical incident three minutes before half-time.
Di Michele took advantage of Jamie Carragher's mistake to race clear and round Reina, but he tripped right in front of goal and when he tried to salvage the situation with a dive was left embarrassed as he was booked by referee Riley.
Torres almost added to West Ham's hurt when a moment of defensive hesitation allowed him to get in a header, but it looped agonisingly off target.
Liverpool almost put the game out of sight six minutes after the break when - with Matthew Upson off the field receiving treatment - Kuyt found Yossi Benayoun at the far post, but the former West Ham midfield man could not keep his volley down.
West Ham struggled to inflict any serious blows on Liverpool's rearguard, and it was no surprise when Zola made a change after 59 minutes when he replaced Junior Stanislas with Jack Collison.
But it was Liverpool who made the next opportunity when they sprang on West Ham from their free-kick to break clear, but when Gerrard found Kuyt, Green was alert enough to make a crucial block.
Liverpool rounded off an impressive performance in style six minutes from time when Gerrard found Kuyt raiding down the right.
He found Babel unmarked only eight yards out, and he slammed home an emphatic finish after Green blocked his first attempt.
It crowned an efficient display from Liverpool - and at least gave Manchester United food for thought ahead of the derby at Old Trafford.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Boa Morte (Payne 80), Noble, Kovac, Stanislas (Collison 59), Di Michele (Sears 70), Tristan.Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Lopez, Nsereko, Spector.
Booked: Boa Morte, Kovac, Di Michele.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio (Insua 54), Benayoun (Dossena 82), Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt, Torres (Babel 72).Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Degen.
Booked: Aurelio, Mascherano.
Goals: Gerrard 2, 38, Babel 84.
Att: 34,951
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Liverpool maintained their title hopes with a comfortable win that keeps Newcastle deep in relegation trouble.
Yossi Benayoun got the first, despite a suspicion of offside, and headers from Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva sealed it.
Newcastle boss Alan Shearer had left Michael Owen on the bench but it was slack defending that cost the visitors, who also had Joey Barton sent off.
Liverpool move within three points of leaders Manchester United, while Newcastle are three points from safety.
As widely predicted, Shearer took the brave step of naming Owen as a substitute and starting with Mark Viduka playing just ahead of Peter Lovenkrands and Obafemi Martins.
And while Liverpool had Steven Gerrard back in midfield for the first time in five matches, Newcastle must have been buoyed by the absence of Fernando Torres from the squad because of a hamstring injury.
In bright sunshine the visitors started well, with Viduka bringing in Martins and Lovenkrands on the flanks as Newcastle dominated possession.
The only early threat from Liverpool came after 14 minutes when Gerrard was pulled down outside the box by Fabricio Coloccini, who was lucky to escape a booking, but the England midfielder's free-kick was comfortably saved by Steve Harper.
Moments later, Gerrard made Harper work again with a stinging shot as the Newcastle defence backed away, and Kuyt then sent an inviting header wide from six yards as Liverpool upped the pressure.
In a frenetic period of play, Lovenkrands managed to get round Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal but the angle was too tight for the Dane to finish.
The breakthrough came on 22 minutes after Viduka gave the ball away with a curious header back towards his own goal.
Alan Smith then failed to control a weak Gerrard cross and Kuyt pounced to fire across goal, allowing Benayoun to scramble the ball over the line with his knee despite appeals for offside.
But Liverpool did not have to wait long for number two as Gerrard's corner on 28 minutes was met by a flying header from a totally unmarked Kuyt.
Liverpool assumed total control for the rest of the first half, with Xabi Alonso's long-range curling strike thumping the crossbar and his team-mates raining shots down on Harper's goal.
Shearer took off Lovenkrands at the break and replaced the forward with Argentine Jonas Gutierrez, rather than Owen, but the pattern of play did not alter.
Liverpool continued to move forward as Newcastle's defence looked shaky and Gerrard flashed a left-footed drive across the face of goal five minutes into the second half.
When Newcastle did manage to escape their own half they produced little, with Barton - back for the first time since January - and Damien Duff wasting good crossing opportunities.
The frustration got to the combative Smith, who was booked for a two-footed lunge on the hour, while Liverpool brought on Ryan Babel for Albert Riera as they camped in the visitors' half.
Alonso struck the bar for the second time in the match with another curling effort before Gerrard missed a golden opportunity in acres of space on the edge of the box, pulling his shot wide.
With the match increasingly resembling a training exercise for the home side, the intensity was raised dramatically when Barton slid in with both feet on Alonso as the Spaniard kept possession by the corner flag.
Referee Phil Dowd showed Barton a red card and the midfielder applauded in the direction of the Newcastle fans before walking past an unmoved Shearer on the touchline.
Meanwhile, Alonso was given an ovation from the Kop as he was stretchered off, and the applause continued for Owen, finally brought on with 10 minutes remaining.
The ex-Liverpool striker had no chance to make any impact, however, as his former side kept up the pressure, and unmarked substitute Lucas Leiva rounded off the easiest of wins by heading in Fabio Aurelio's free-kick three minutes from time.
There was still time for Gerrard to hit the bar but a late injury to Javier Mascherano, on the back of Alonso's earlier departure and the failure of Torres to make the squad, were the only negatives for title-chasing Liverpool.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Alonso (Lucas 80), Mascherano (Ngog 89), Benayoun, Gerrard, Riera (Babel 63), Kuyt.Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, El Zhar, Skrtel.
Goals: Benayoun 22, Kuyt 28, Lucas 87.

Newcastle: Harper, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Duff, Smith, Butt, Martins (Owen 80), Barton, Lovenkrands (Gutierrez 46), Viduka (Nolan 80). Subs Not Used: Krul, Guthrie, Edgar, Carroll.
Sent Off: Barton (77).
Booked: Smith, Coloccini.
Att: 44,121
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).