Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bolton 2 - 3 Liverpool

Again, it's my idol STEVEN GERRARD tht comes to the rescue for Liverpool. Liverpool twice came from behind to beat a stubborn Bolton side, who had Sean Davis harshly sent off.
Kevin Davies put the hosts in front when he tapped in from a corner only for Glen Johnson to equalise with a low shot into the bottom corner.
Tamir Cohen restored Bolton's lead with a volley but then Davis was given a second caution for a foul on Lucas.
Steven Gerrard hit the bar before Fernando Torres finished clinically and Gerrard rifled in the winner late on.
It was a bitter blow for Bolton, having lost Davis to a debatable refereeing decision by Alan Wiley and some gamesmanship from Lucas, who waved an imaginary card towards the official.
The incident proved to be the turning point as Liverpool showed an urgency that had been lacking until that point.
That it should have happened only when had numerical superiority must have been a worry to manager Rafael Benitez, who had before the game called on his players to kick-start their season.
With two league defeats in their first three matches, Liverpool's title credentials were already being called into question.
And doubts still remained after another unconvincing performance against a Bolton side also struggling for form.
Benitez had singled out Gerrard as having been below par in their opening games but the skipper responded in the perfect manner.
Although he was still not at his thrusting, influential best, Gerrard's main contribution was a decisive one as he thrashed in a volley in the 83rd minute to seal three points for his side.
Early in the match, Benitez prowled the touchline looking frustrated and unimpressed and his players showed little invention to lift his mood.
They looked uncertain at the back with debutant Sotirios Kyrgiakos having a few nervous moments - and they were punished for failing to clear a corner when Kevin Davies poked him from close range to give Bolton the lead.
Soon after, Torres incurred the wrath of the Bolton players after they felt he had looked to win a penalty despite Zat Knight cleanly taking the ball.
But from the resulting corner, the ball was only half cleared and fell to Johnson who struck a low shot beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen for his second goal of the season.
Bolton went into the interval feeling aggrieved but were back in front just moments after the restart.
Jaaskelainen punted the ball upfield, Davies flicked the ball on and Cohen volleyed home against the team his father, Avi, used to play for despite a despairing attempt to block by Jamie Carragher.
The two goals were the first that Bolton had scored in the league this season and at that point, another shock defeat looked on the cards for Liverpool.
But the decision to send off Davis changed everything and within seconds, Liverpool came piling forward and Gerrard smashed a vicious shot against the bar.
Moments later parity was restored when Dirk Kuyt chested the ball into the path of Torres and the Spaniard lashed home.
And although Bolton did their best to hang on as Liverpool chased the victory, it proved a fruitless task when a corner fell to Gerrard, the England midfielder found the top corner.
Liverpool almost scored again when Torres had a shot hacked off the line, but a wider margin of victory would have been flattering.
While Liverpool still need to improve to challenge for the title, they will be relieved to have won and Benitez will be pleased by his side's spirit.
Bolton, however, can also take some positives from a performance that gives them hope for the rest of the campaign.
Bolton boss Gary Megson:"Being reduced to 10 men at this level always has an impact, and when it happens against a team of Liverpool's quality even more so.
Our players don't go down - Megson
"We were man-marking Steven Gerrard up until that point, and he was under a measure of control.
"But when Davis was sent off we were unable to use (Fabrice) Muamba as a man-marker from then on, you can't do that when you only have 10 men.
"Steven is clever, he dropped deeper and deeper and orchestrated the game from then on."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:"All our players wanted to impress and do well. Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, among others, knew they needed to improve.
"We showed we have quality players and they all fought hard to show their improvement.
"We had a lot of possession and were in control for much of the game. To concede two goals like we did is disappointing, but the team hit back and proved their quality."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Liverpool 1 - 3 Aston Villa

Aston Villa produced an outstanding defensive display to secure their first win against Liverpool in eight years as Rafael Benitez's side continued their stuttering start to the new Premier League campaign.
Villa had been heavily criticised after losing their opening home game to Wigan Athletic and slumping to defeat in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna - but they answered all the questions in emphatic fashion at Anfield.
Liverpool faded after a bright start, and have now lost as many league games as they did last season following losses against Spurs and now Villa.
Anfield was left frustrated as Liverpool wasted the opportunities that came their way, but ultimately they were reduced to running up blind alleys, and out of ideas, in the face of Villa's resilience.
Villa were set on their way after 34 minutes when Lucas deflected Ashley Young's free-kick into his own net, and they grabbed a second on the stroke of half-time when Curtis Davies headed in Nicky Shorey's corner at the near post.
Liverpool surged forward after the break, but met a white wall of resistance as Villa defended their precious lead, with Carlos Cuellar outstanding and goalkeeper Brad Friedel a commanding presence.
Fernando Torres gave Liverpool hope with a close-range strike after 72 minutes, but any hopes of a dramatic revival ended three minutes later when Steven Gerrard brought down Nigel Reo-Coker and Young scored from the spot.
Villa boss Martin O'Neill was elated - and rightly so as his side got their season up and running with a landmark victory.
For Liverpool, they will now they simply have to produce better - and more creative - performances as they chase their first title in 20 years.
Liverpool were almost ahead inside the first 30 seconds when Yossi Benayoun beat Friedel to Torres' lofted pass but his header fell inches wide.
Villa survived an even bigger scare after eight minutes when Torres' miscue fell invitingly into the path of Gerrard six yards out, but Friedel struck out a leg and diverted his effort over the bar when a goal seemed certain.
O'Neill's side then produced some stern resistance, with Torres growing increasingly frustrated at what he saw as the over-physical treatment being meted out by the Villa rearguard.
Villa slowly worked their way into the game - but it was still against the run of play when they went ahead in fortuitous fashion after 34 minutes as Lucas unwittingly headed Young's routine free-kick past a stranded Pepe Reina.
And they delivered another counter-punch seconds before half-time, in what Liverpool clearly felt were contentious circumstances.
Keeper Reina was so infuriated by referee Martin Atkinson's decision to award a corner when Steve Sidwell's shot was adjudged to have deflected off Martin Skrtel that he lashed the ball away in disgust and was given a yellow card.
Liverpool felt insult was added to injury when Davies stole in ahead of Torres and Jamie Carragher at the near post to head Villa's second.
The Kop urged Liverpool forward as they predictably lay siege to Villa's goal after the break - and Friedel was the hero with a magnificent diving save to turn away Gerrard's rising drive.
And as the pressure mounted, with Dirk Kuyt heading against the post after Carragher flicked on Gerrard's cross, Torres threw Liverpool a lifeline with 18 minutes remaining as he steered in a simple finish following good work from Emiliano Insua.
Hope was revived inside Anfield, but snuffed out inside three minutes when Gerrard's badly-mistimed tackle on Reo-Coker resulted in an inevitable penalty, which Young dispatched calmly.
It was the decisive blow and Villa held out in relative comfort, with Liverpool resigned to a damaging defeat long before the final whistle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Liverpool 4 - 0 Stoke

Liverpool made amends for their opening day Premier League defeat at Tottenham with an emphatic victory against Stoke.
Fernando Torres gave the Reds the early lead when he stroked in Steven Gerrard's cross from 10 yards.
Glen Johnson then scored his first goal for the club with an acrobatic finish just before the interval.
Gerrard produced a wonderful piece of magic on the right to find Dirk Kuyt who poked in for 3-0 before substitute David Ngog nodded in in injury time.
In the end the scoreline was just about right, although there were periods after the opening goal when Liverpool looked like a team sorely missing the creative presence of Xabi Alonso.
With midfield replacement Alberto Aquilani still a few weeks away from making his debut, last season's regular substitute Lucas Leiva has been promoted to the first team.
The Brazilian was one of the better players on show in the defeat at Tottenham but against Stoke's five-man containing midfield he found it difficult to find the time to provide the sort of killer passes Alonso was renowned for.
This would have caused greater consternation among the Anfield faithful had their team not taken an early lead.
Gerrard, who gave another powerhouse display, pulled a low ball back from the right which found Torres arriving to timetable - the Spaniard sidefooted his effort past keeper Thomas Sorensen.
Emiliano Insua should have made it 2-0 when Torres' cross eluded the head of Kuyt and found the full-back who positioned himself well at the far post but failed to get a good connection on the ball.
A lull in play followed largely because Stoke began to read Liverpool's attacking tactics all too easily, and it seemed that Tony Pulis' side would go into the break with the moral half-time victory.
But the visitors should have realised that the Reds under manager Rafa Benitez are anything but predictable.
With seconds remaining, Liverpool won a corner on the right which Gerrard delivered on to the head of Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman's header was parried by Sorensen but only to Johnson who improvised instinctively.
Liverpool found more space after the break as Stoke realised the containing game would not win them any points.
The visitors' change in intentions led to their first shot on goal when Rory Delap forced a smart save from the largely-redundant Pepe Reina.
But from that point onwards it was all Reds traffic.
A run into the area from Johnson ended with Sorensen having to save low from the attack-minded wing-back.
Kuyt had a better chance to add to the tally when he got his feet in a mess after Sorensen palmed Gerrard's drive to the forward.
But Kuyt is known for his persistence in the final third and that paid dividends when Gerrard magical turn on the far right finished with the ball arriving at the feet of the Dutch chancer who tapped in.
And with almost the last touch of the game, substitute Ngog made the most of Sorensen's inability to deal with a deflected cross to head in under the bar.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez: "We needed to win and we needed to score goals.
"We have plenty of room for improvement though. Some players are still short of full fitness.
"We are working hard to bring in new good signings. We have enough money for now."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis:"I hold my hands up, we were beaten by a better team and better players.
"Liverpool created more chances against us here last season, but just did not take them.
"Today they were excellent. They do not only have Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, who are world class. They have great players through their team."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tottenham 2 - 1 Liverpool

Liverpool's quest to end a 20-year wait to win the title started with the disappointment of an opening-day defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Rafael Benitez can have few complaints as Liverpool - heavily tipped to end Manchester United's run of three successive Premier League titles - delivered a lame display which lacked attacking invention and genuine quality.
Spurs, in contrast, showed the greater ambition and the scenes of delight at the final whistle reflected the renewed optimism felt by Harry Redknapp and his players at claiming one of the top flight's prized scalps.
Former Liverpool striker Robbie Keane wasted three glorious openings before Benoit Assou-Ekotto's thunderous drive gave Spurs a deserved lead a minute before the interval.
Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes' rush of blood threw Liverpool a lifeline they barely merited after 56 minutes when he dashed from goal and brought down Glen Johnson, allowing Steven Gerrard to level from the spot.
But Spurs were swiftly back in front when defender Sebastien Bassong marked a hugely promising debut following his £8m switch from Newcastle by heading Luka Modric's free-kick past Pepe Reina.
Liverpool finally sparked into life and were infuriated when referee Phil Dowd dismissed late claims for a penalty after substitute Andriy Voronin tumbled under a challenge from Assou-Ekotto.
It capped Liverpool's intense frustration and assistant manager Sammy Lee was sent from the dug-out after an exchange with the fourth official.
Liverpool also have an injury worry over defender Martin Skrtel, who struggled throughout with a jaw injury after a clash of heads with Jamie Carragher.
Benitez 's side failed to make a serious attacking impact on Spurs, with Fernando Torres well-shackled by Bassong and Ledley King, and their midfield lacking cohesion without the departed Xabi Alonso.
Spurs were comfortably the more accomplished side, with Wilson Palacios and the gifted Modric dovetailing well in midfield and their reshaped defence looking assured throughout.
White Hart Lane proved a bogey ground for Liverpool last season, with one of only two Premier League defeats at Spurs - and boss Benitez will be hoping this represents little more than a false start.
Redknapp gave Keane the nod ahead of new boy Peter Crouch in attack - and he was not short of opportunities in a first half that started slowly but ended with Spurs in command.
The first incident of note came with a nasty clash of heads between Liverpool's central defensive duo Carragher and Skrtel that left both players needing lengthy treatment.
Carragher was forced off to be patched up, and while Skrtel stayed on he was clearly troubled by the heavy blow to his jaw and needed further attention as the game progressed.
Gerrard provided Liverpool's only moment of danger in the opening exchanges with a low drive from 25 yards that was always drifting wide of Gomes' goal.
Spurs showed the greater attacking invention, but Keane could find his touch in front of goal and wasted three presentable chances to punish the club where he had a short and unfulfilling spell last season.
He should have given Spurs the lead after 33 minutes when he had the goal at his mercy after a clever delivery by Modric, but he allowed Reina to scramble across his goal and save.
Keane then failed to chip over the onrushing Reina before blazing another wasteful finish well over when unmarked in the area.
Spurs deserved something for their superiority - and they got it in the most spectacular fashion a minute before the interval, with Assou-Ekotto lashing a rising 25-yard drive beyond Reina after Tom Huddlestone's free-kick rebounded back off Emiliano Insua.
Benitez demands Liverpool improvement
Reina had been Liverpool's star performer, and he emphasised his quality again seven minutes after the break when he dived acrobatically to turn over a powerful effort from Palacios.
The importance of the save was underscored seconds later when Liverpool drew level from the penalty spot. Spurs' keeper Gomes needlessly hauled down Johnson as he dashed from his goal and Gerrard slammed home the spot-kick.
Liverpool's spell of equality was brief as Spurs restored their advantage three minutes later when debutant Bassong rose high to meet Modric's free-kick and beat Reina.
Johnson had shown glimpses of the attacking dimension Benitez hopes he will give Liverpool after his £17m move from Portsmouth when he delivered an inviting cross that Torres could only direct wide at the far post.
Liverpool pressed in the final moments but could not break through - they could not fashion an equaliser and it would have been cruel on Spurs had they done so.