Monday, October 25, 2010

Liverpool 2 - 1 Blackburn

Fernando Torres scored his first goal since August to earn Liverpool a hugely significant victory at Anfield.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos gave the Reds the lead on 48 minutes when he powered in a header from Steven Gerrard's corner.
But Blackburn hit back when El-Hadji Diouf's shot was deflected in by Jamie Carragher after Paul Konchesky cleared.
Torres then saved Carragher's blushes three minutes later when he side-footed in a Joe Cole cross but Liverpool stay in the Premier League's bottom three.
The Spanish striker's volley was only his second goal of the season but it represented a huge step forward for Roy Hodgson's team as it delivered their second league win.
They dominated for long periods of the game and should have taken the lead in a first half where Blackburn had Paul Robinson to thank for keeping them in the game.
But despite their attempts to give the Anfield crowd a scare when they threw away their lead within two minutes, Torres's return to goalscoring form will give everyone a lift after a dark period at the club.
Perhaps showing how bad things have been in recent times, Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers, led a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone on the pitch right before the game started to give the fans a boost.
But with new owner John W Henry unable to watch the first home game since taking over at the club through illness, Marsden's rallying cry seemed to have the desired effect as Liverpool began with a real thrust to their play.
Torres showed his intent from the very start, chasing down fellow compatriot Michel Salgado despite leaving his boot in, and as early as the eighth minute Liverpool came to close to opening the scoring.
A good interchange between Maxi Rodriguez and Torres allowed the Argentine to cut the ball back from the byline for Cole, whose shot was well saved by Robinson, but it was Raul Meireles who had the best opportunity, failing to hit the target with the follow-up even though the goal was gaping.
Torres was looking far more lively than in recent games, perhaps justifying Hodgson's decision to rest him and several other players for the midweek Europa League trip to Naples.
Blackburn centre-back Phil Jones denied the Spaniard by getting to a dangerous Gerrard centre, and the Liverpool striker then went close with another header from a Carragher cross.
Even early on, Gerrard was finding space in wide areas to deliver into the penalty area, and nearly every corner he took was causing Blackburn problems.
Kyrgiakos drew a fine save from Robinson with a header from Gerrard's set-piece and from another, Meireles almost took Salgado's head off when his bullet shot looked set for the top corner.
Despite all their attacking intent, the Anfield crowd remained quiet but they were brought to life once more when Liverpool burst forward on the counter-attack from a Blackburn corner.
Meireles was involved once again and his pull back across the edge of the box allowed Gerrard the chance to take aim but his well-struck shot was again saved by Robinson.
Lucas Leiva then had a great chance to finally beat the Blackburn keeper but the Brazilian could not find the target with his header, even though he was only four yards out.
Rovers were being made to suffer for the lack of their suspended centre-back Chris Samba and the injured Ryan Nelsen but the watching Liverpool co-owner Tom Werner must have been impressed with Liverpool's attacking verve.
He would not have been long back in his seat after the interval when the hosts eventually took the lead that their first-half play deserved.
Once again it was a Gerrard corner which bore fruit with Kyrgiakos thumping a header towards goal which deflected off Martin Olsson.
The relief in Anfield was palpable but within two minutes Blackburn were level with a goal that was almost comical, given their lack of chances during the game.
On as a half-time substitute, Benjani cut through the defence on Liverpool's left and although his cut back was tamely hit by Diouf, Konchesky's goal-line clearance hit Carragher and nestled in the net.
Hodgson was crestfallen on the Liverpool bench but three minutes later Liverpool restored their lead, Cole's cross from the left allowing Torres to end his goal drought.
It was his first goal since the 1-0 victory over West Brom on 29 August but despite the end of his barren spell Liverpool remain in the bottom three of the Premier League, with only Wolves and West Ham beneath them.
Fortunately for the Reds supporters there was no second reply from Rovers and they would have been happy to watch as the game drifted for large parts of the second half.
The only disappointment would have been for Blackburn's travelling support. Sam Allardyce's team looked content to probe but lacked any endeavour to their play.
As for Hodgson, the decision to leave several of his key men out of the midweek European trip looked like a good one, and he will be pleased that there were signs, particularly during the first half, that Liverpool are at last getting a rhythm and intensity to their play.

No comments: