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Match Review: Liverpool 5-0 Aston Villa by lfctalk

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A great performance from The Reds and the perfect statement of intent after Manchester United and Chelsea both lost yesterday.

The bonus of the five goals added to the goal difference will be the icing on the cake after another fantastic week for Liverpool ends.

Steven Gerrard’s first Premiership hat-trick, including two penalties, will be another major boost to confidence and The Reds will wish that there was no international break now. A trip to Fulham, who beat United at Craven Cottage yesterday, awaits Rafael Benitez’s team after the fortnight break.

Gareth Barry was the early centre of attention, but Dirk Kuyt’s powerful strike in the eight minute set the tone for Liverpool’s biggest win of the season. An Albert Riera blast direct from Jose Reina’s kick put the Reds in firm control after Villa showed signs of improvement with some fine efforts.

Steven Gerrard scored his first with a penalty after Nigel Reo-Coker felled Riera for the second time to give away the spotkick. Brad Friedel went the wrong way to allow Gerrard to put the home side three goals up. The Reds captain added a fourth, and his second, with a fine free-kick into the bottom right corner past a hapless Friedel.

The midfielder capped a fine personal display by dispatching another penalty after Friedel was harshly sent off for bringing down Fernando Torres, despite trying to make himself small to avoid the foul. Martin Atkinson didn’t see it that way, however, and red carded the American – who will now miss Villa’s trip to Old Trafford in a fortnight.

Liverpool could have scored even more with Alvaro Arbeloa wasting two good opportunities to pile further misery on Villa. Carlos Cuellar also got away with two handballs in the second half, which could have seen Gerrard bag a hat-trick of penalties.

The Reds will play Fulham before Manchester United entertain the Midland club and could go two points clear in the process. United face Portsmouth in their game in hand, which will be a crucial game in the title race.

This weekend has blown the title race wide open once again and Liverpool will need to keep the pressure up on United by winning their remaining games.

LFC Talk Man of the Match: Albert Riera

Match Ratings:

Reina 8, Arbeloa 7 (Agger 6), Carragher 8, Skrtel 7, Aurelio 7, Mascherano 8, Alonso 7 (Lucas 6), Gerrard 8 (N’Gog 5), Riera 8, Kuyt 8, Torres 7.


Match Review: Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool by lfctalk
March 14, 2009, 15:48
Filed under: Match Reviews

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Liverpool ended a four match winning streak for Manchester United at Old Trafford by hammering the Premiership leaders 4-1 to record their biggest win there since 1936.

The deserved victory for Rafael Benitez’s men could potentially open the title race back up for The Reds and also Chelsea, who play tomorrow and will have been equally delighted to see the result. United are now four points ahead of The Reds, but still have a game in hand.

The Liverpool side were unsettled early by Alvaro Arbeloa’s pulling out of the match at the last minute with an injury picked up while warming up. Sami Hyypia stepped into the eleven and Jamie Carragher switched to his unfavoured right-back role.

Despite taking the control early on, Liverpool fell behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty after Jose Reina’s foul on Ji-Sung Park. The Spanish keeper could not stop and ended up taking down the Korean midfielder and the Portuguese winger slotted home the resultant penalty.

Heads did not drop in the team though and Fernando Torres made the most of a glaring defensive error by Nemanja Vidic to notch a leveller just five minutes later. Torres had been a constant thorn in the United defence’s side and made the pressure count.

A frantic first-half continued at looked like being level at the break, but a pacey run from Gerrard was ended by Patrice Evra scything him down just inside the United area for a spot-kick. Gerrard stepped up and dispatched the penalty past Edwin van der Sar.

Alex Ferguson looked livid as he walked into the tunnel at the break, but his famed ‘hairdryer’ treatment did not work on his men as a defensive Liverpool held them for early stages of the second half. Reina was barely tested by any strikes from the United frontline and only had a cross from Rooney to deal with, which he brushed over the bar.

With just fifteen minutes left and a stalemate between the Reds defence and United’s attack brewing, Vidic repeated his red card feat at Anfield by bringing down Gerrard just outside the United box. Alan Wiley had no choice but to send-off the Serbian. Fabio Aurelio stepped up and beautifully curled in a third Liverpool goal and a second deadball strike of the season for himself.

United barely threatened after that strike and could’ve been punished further soon after, but Gerrard looped his strike over the bar after a backheel from Ryan Babel. But the miss was quickly forgotten as Andrea Dossena ran onto a long ball from Reina to lob van der Sar first time to seal the 4-1 victory and three points that tips the title door ajar for The Reds.

LFC Talk Man of the Match: Fernando Torres

Ratings: Reina 7, Carragher 7, Hyypia 8, Skrtel 7, Aurelio 8, Lucas 7, Mascherano 7, Gerrard 8 (El Zhar 6), Riera 6 (Dossena 8), Kuyt 7, Torres 9 (Babel 6).

FA Youth Cup: Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea by lfctalk
February 6, 2009, 13:20
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Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia were among the 2000+ that watched on as Liverpool’s youth side ensured a double over Chelsea at Anfield in a week in the FA Youth Cup.

17 year old David Amoo headed in the 17th minute from Adam Pepper’s cross in the first half to put the Reds into a lead that was never levelled by their visitors.

It wasn’t the only chance The Reds had to bulge the Chelsea net – Nathan Eccleston’s shot flew wide after a fine pass from Paul Ince’s son Thomas, Lauri Dalle Valle’s fine strike was ruled out for offside and Amoo had another excellent chance that flashed wide in the closing stages.

Fabio Borini could’ve levelled it for the Londoners, but his header dropped onto the top of Dean Bouzanis’s net in the 79th minute as the Reds closed out the game to progress to the quarter finals.

Liverpool: Bouzanis, Wisdom, Buchtmann, Ayala, Kennedy, Irwin, Amoo, Pepper (Kacaniklic 73), Dalle Valle, Ince, Eccleston. Unused subs: Chamberlin, Metcalf, Roberts, Ellison.

Match Review: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea by lfctalk
February 1, 2009, 19:14
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Fernando Torres’s late brace fired Liverpool back into the title race this afternoon as The Reds left it very late to seal a deserved three points that takes Rafael Benitez’s side to within two points of leaders Manchester United. The Champions still have a game in hand over their rivals, however.

The talking point of the game for many fans, especially those of Chelsea, will be the controversial sending off of Frank Lampard. The England midfielder was shown a straight red after an hour after a crunching challenge with rival Xabi Alonso. The Spanish midfielder was hurled into the air and landed a distance from where the challenge occurred. In fairness to the Chelsea man, he got the ball first and will have a strong case should he choose to appeal.

Chelsea can have no complaints about the result however, as they were outplayed by a dominant Liverpool side. Steven Gerrard led his side by example, aside from getting booked for a dive, with thrusting drives forward.

Torres had several earlier chances in the game that looked goalbound but were blocked by Chelsea defenders each time. He had to wait until the 89th minute to open his account at Anfield for the season with a fine header. His second came after a mistake from Ashley Cole allowed Yossi Benayoun to slip though on goal. The Israeli’s shot was blocked by Cech, but it rebounded to Torres to slot in to kill off Chelsea’s hopes.

Rafael Benitez’s side have managed to turn around their fortunes against the other big four sides, having now won three times and drawn once in what Sky Sports call ‘Grand Slam’ fixtures. A trip to Old Trafford looms in March however, which could decide the destination of the Premiership title this season.

The talking point before the game was Robbie Keane’s omission from the Liverpool squad, but the Irishman did arrive at Anfield to watch his team-mates victory. It may be the last time he visits Anfield as a Liverpool player, however, if rumours in the press today are to be believed and he seals a £15m return to White Hart Lane.

Liverpool win now believe their title challenge is back on track, but Chelsea will be feeling much the opposite.

Match Stats

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano (Babel 83), Riera (Benayoun 74), Gerrard, Torres (Ngog 90).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Agger, Leiva Lucas.

Booked: Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Arbeloa.
Goals: Torres 89, 90.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou (Stoch 85), Anelka (Drogba 69), Malouda (Deco 69).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Mancienne.

Sent Off: Lampard (60).
Booked: Ashley Cole, Mikel, Terry.

Att: 44,174
Ref: Mike Riley.

LFC Talk Man of the Match: Fernando Torres

Match Review: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United by lfctalk
September 13, 2008, 15:08
Filed under: Match Reviews

Rafael Benitez and his Liverpool have ended their long wait for a league win over rivals Manchester United after grabbing a well deserved victory at Anfield this afternoon.

It didn’t look likely from the outset as the visitors claimed an early lead with a Carlos Tevez strike in just the third minute. A great pass from Brazilian Anderson found debutant Dimitar Berbatov who played a diagonal ball back across the area for the Argentinean striker to place into the net passed a helpless Jose Reina.

Liverpool fought back immediately and started putting the pressure on the away side and made it tell after 27 minutes when a Xabi Alonso speculative shot was deflected into the six yard box. Edwin van der Sar rushed forward and stretched for the ball, which he got to but only to deflect it straight off Wes Brown and into the net to level it. Debutant Albert Riera was pressuring the pair and nearly claimed the goal himself but couldn’t get to it in time. He won’t have any complaints though.

The first period ended with the teams looking even and sharing chances. Michael Carrick was struggling in the closing stages and had to be replaced by veteran Ryan Giggs at the interval.

Liverpool came out in the second period firing on all cylinders and had several opportunities to take the lead. Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun were bursting forward at every chance and could’ve both given the Reds the advantage on a few occasions.

Captain Steven Gerrard made a long-awaited entrance replacing Benayoun and the pace of Liverpool’s attack seemed to drop slightly. The home side maintained the constant pressure on their arch-rivals, and made their dominance count when Giggs failed to deal with the ball in his own area and was dispossessed by Kuyt. The Dutchman played the ball across the six-yard box for his compatriot Ryan Babel to give the home side a much deserved lead. The ex-Ajax attackers strike bounced perfectly to loop over the United defenders and team-mate Keane into the Kop end net. Javier Mascherano’s tireless work in the buildup to the goal was instrumental in the Reds taking the lead.

United never looked like getting anything from the game after Babel’s strike and were well out of it when Nemanja Vidic got a deserved red card. The Serbian had received his first booking for a cynical foul on Keane and then got his marching orders at the death for a nasty poleaxing of Alonso. It could be argued that the first yellow may have warranted a dismissal, but the defender can have no arguments for the second. He will now face a suspension for the double Champions against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next weekend.

Both debutants, Dimitar Berbatov and Albert Riera, showed promise on their first outings for their new sides. The Bulgarian was instrumental in helping his team take the lead, but he faded badly after the assist. The Spanish left-winger looked fazed in the opening exchanges, but he stepped up to the pace of the game and gave Liverpool much needed width and composure on the flank.

Player ratings

Reina 7, Arbeloa 7, Carragher 8, Skrtel 7, Aurelio 7, Mascherano 7 (Hyypia 6), Alonso 8, Kuyt 8, Benayoun 7 (Gerrard 6), Riera 7 (Babel 7), Keane 6.

Man of the Match

Xabi Alonso – The Spanish midfielder ran the show from the midfield with a fine array of passing and tackling. His shot inadvertently led to Liverpool’s opener. He has returned to form after a summer of speculation about a possible departure.

Match Review: Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool by lfctalk
August 31, 2008, 18:16
Filed under: Match Reviews

At Villa Park this afternoon, the football failed to match up to the prematch buildup to the showdown between Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa and Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool side, who missed their opportunity to move to the top of the Premiership table again after seeing their 100% record ended.

The encounter will have frustrated Benitez, whose side lined up in a peculiar formation for the first-half which did nothing to facilitate any flowing or stylish football. Brazilian midfielder Lucas was a surprise addition to the side and his inclusion failed to add any creative spark to a midfield missing it’s inspiration in captain Steven Gerrard. Another crucial Red left the fray early when Fernando Torres pulled up with a strained hamstring after chasing a poor pass from Javier Mascherano. Reds fans will be desperately hoping that both players recover in time to face bitter rivals Manchester United on 13th September.

In another surprising selection Benitez decided to replace the injured striker with unproven forward David N’Gog. The young Frenchman failed to make much impact, but wasn’t given a great deal of support in the closing stages of the first-half. Robbie Keane was bizarrely placed in a left-midfield role for the majority of the first period, which highlighted Benitez’s inability to find a system that would accommodate the Irishman.

Villa also struggled to create clear-cut chances, but they did have the best of the opening 45 minutes when a neat move involving Gareth Barry and Ashley Young ended with a poor finish from Norwegian John Carew – the big striker’s shot was hit straight at Jose Reina.

The second half saw an immediate improvement in the quality of play, but Liverpool still failed to make any clear cut chances in the opening exchanges. Keane was moved into a more central attacking position and it did result in an opportunity for N’Gog after the pair linked well, but the Frenchman’s strike was deflected over by Martin Laursen. Keane himself had a glorious opportunity to take the points for the away side after being played through on goal by a quality pass from Mascherano, but his finish was unconvincing and rolled harmlessly wide. The Irishman did try to claim a penalty after Nigel Reo-Coker’s challenge, but it was a desperate measure.

Martin Laursen nearly claimed the points with only a few minutes remaining with a header that drifted just wide from Barry’s free-kick. In fairness, it should never have been a free-kick as Ashley Young dived ludicrously to dupe the officials into awarding the kick.

The game was overshadowed throughout by the Villa fans constant chanting and cheering for Gareth Barry. Despite their former captain’s continued assertions that he’d have preferred to have been on the other side, the home fans gave him their full backing throughout.

Player ratings

Reina 7, Arbeloa 6, Carragher 8, Skrtel 7, Dossena 6, Mascherano 7, Alonso 6, Lucas 5, Kuyt 6 (Aurelio 5), Keane 5 (Benayoun 5), Torres 6 (N’Gog 5).

Man of the Match

Jamie Carragher – Solid defending from the stand-in captain saw the threat of Agbonlahor and Carew blunted on several occasions. Without his experience, the side would have struggled to even collect a point.

LFC Talk View

Rafael Benitez continues to dumfound with some strange tactics and personnel selections that will only blunt our slim chances of making a decent title challenge this season. The obvious threat of Ryan Babel was left on the bench with every substitution and the Dutchman can be aggrieved after having strong impacts in both his previous two appearances.

Match Review: Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool by lfctalk

Fernando Torres grabbed a late winner to earn the three points for Liverpool against Sunderland in the season opener. The Spanish striker was afforded rare space by the Sunderland defence and took his opportunity with a clinical finish from 25 yards. Half-time substitute Xabi Alonso passed the ball to the forward, who turned and struck a low drive into Craig Gordon’s bottom right corner.

Sunderland started the brighter of the two sides, but made few clear openings despite pressurising their visitors defence with some neat passing. El-Hadji Diouf was in typically feisty spirits early on and looked hungry to impress his new fans with a strong performance against his former side. The Senegalese striker roved across the frontline and was involved in a few spats with Reds defenders. Daryl Murphy got on the end of the best chance of Sunderland’s early prominence, but he could only head his chance into the arms of Spanish keeper Jose Reina. It was Diouf that provided the opportunity with a well-worked cross from the left-wing. Sunderland’s new £2.5m signing also gave Liverpool a scare after latching onto Hyypia’s weak header, but Jamie Carragher managed to nick the ball away to spare his central defensive partner’s blushes.

Liverpool failed to create many openings in the first-half with Robbie Keane and Fernando Torres receiving little service from the midfield. Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt started on the flanks for the away side, but couldn’t provide many opportunities for the front two. The Liverpool attacks were constantly stifled by overloading around the Sunderland box. The visitors attacks were too narrow and space was at a premium throughout the opening forty-five minutes. The best opportunity for a goal was denied by Alan Wiley’s decision to award a free-kick on the edge of the Sunderland area. Gerrard was tripped by Nyron Nosworthy on the edge of the area whilst playing a pass into Benayoun in the area. The Israeli was felled by another new Sunderland face, Pascal Chimbonda. The French defender took out Benayoun and a penalty should have been awarded. But Wiley decided to award the free-kick for the earlier foul. Gerrard’s resultant strike hit the Sunderland wall and the home side could breathe a sigh of relief.

Damien Plessis was taken off at half-time after complaining of a back problem. Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso was his replacement in the heart of the Reds midfield. The Euro 2008 winner started to influence proceedings immediately and started to make up for the lack of penetration from the flanks with some key passes. The axis of Alonso and Gerrard was paying off for the Reds as they started to exert more influence and held more possession in the second period.

Sunderland continued the pressure early in the second half with Murphy crossing for Diouf, but the African could only swipe his effort straight at Reina under pressure from the onrushing Carragher.

Yossi Benayoun made himself an opportunity which was weakly struck and pushed away by a diving Craig Gordon. The Scotland keeper’s save almost ran for debutant Keane, but the striker’s angle was too acute to take advantage of the chance. The keeper made another save from Dirk Kuyt’s strike, which was hawked on by both Keane and Torres. The Spaniard won the race, but his goalbound shot deflected off his strike partner for a goal kick.

Xabi Alonso continued to influence developments with an audacious shot from 60 yards. The Spaniard’s lobshot looked goalbound after eluding Gordon, but it drifted merely a yard wide of the Sunderland net.

Keane was replaced after a disappointing Premiership debut with Nabil El Zhar entering the fray and replacing Kuyt on the right-wing. The Dutchman moved into the centre, but continued to toil in possession. The hardworking forward’s afternoon was strewn with his usual selfless endeavour, but the lack of quality told more as the game moved on. The young Moroccan looked hungry, but did his prospects no favours with a petulant booking. After being denied a free-kick the French-born attacker kicked the ball away and was soon presented with a booking for the indiscretion.

The game looked to be fading into a second goalless draw in four days for the Reds before Alonso’s pass was converted into a fine winning goal by Spain’s Euro 2008 hero Torres.

Player ratings

Reina 7, Arbeloa 6, Carragher 7, Hyypia 7, Dossena 6, Plessis 6 (Alonso 8), Gerrard 7, Benayoun 6 (Aurelio 6), Kuyt 5, Keane 6 (El Zhar 6), Torres 7.

Man of the Match

Xabi Alonso – The Spaniard made the difference to the side after coming on at half-time. His passing and vision made up for the deficiencies in attack with little quality coming in from the flanks. After another 48 hours of speculation regarding the future, the midfielder showed his worth with another classy display.