Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Liverpool crash to third Premier League defeat against Chelsea

Second half goals from Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda sent Liverpool crashing to their third Premier League defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge.

The defeat leaves Liverpool six points behind Chelsea and Rafa Benitez's side have now lost three times in their first eight league games after losing just twice through the whole of last season.

Chelsea were without first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech, who served his suspension following his red card against Wigan, but they were buoyed by the return of Didier Drogba.

Liverpool's midfield was strengthened by the return of Javier Mascherano after injury - and he played a crucial role in protecting his defence in a scrappy and evenly contested opening period.

After a tight first half, former Liverpool striker Anelka opened the scoring when he converted Drogba's cross in the 60th minute.

Drogba was the provider again in stoppage time as he over-powered Jamie Carragher and crossed for Malouda to slide home.

Substitute Benayoun wasted Liverpool's best chance when he somehow missed an easy shot with only stand-in goalkeeper Hilario to beat but that came after Malouda had already doubled Chelsea's advantage.

After the international break, Liverpool next head to the North-East in 2 weeks' time, aiming to extend their impressive winning run against Sunderland. The Reds have triumphed in their previous six meetings with the Black Cats and a repeat of last season's 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light is much needed to help maintain the title challenge.

Steve Bruce's men have enjoyed a promising start to the new campaign and the Reds are well aware that they will need to shackle the goal threat of on-form strike duo Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones if they are to come away with the three points once again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reds in surprise Euro defeat to Fiorentina

Liverpool's hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stage have suffered a blow after they slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat against Fiorentina.

The Reds went into the clash on the back of a six-match winning streak but rarely looked like extending it as Fiorentina claimed all the three points courtesy of a first-half double from teenage striker Stevan Jovetic.

The Reds were without hamstring injury victim Javier Mascherano, and really missed his composure and passing in midfield, with his replacement Fabio Aurelio struggling to fill the Argentinian's boots.

Rafael Benitez's troops failed to register a single shot on target in a first half which saw young striker Jovetic beat Pepe Reina on 28 and 37 minutes.

The opening goal came when Cristiano Zanetti's throughball found the 19-year-old, who coolly slotted past Reina from 15 yards.

And it was 2-0 to the hosts when Juan Manuel Vargas' fierce cross into the box from the left was deftly turned past the Reds stopper at his near post.

Benitez stirred his misfiring men at the interval, and they created three early second-half chances, with Sebastian Frey saving shots from Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt, and Lucas Leiva steering a free header from a corner inches over the crossbar.

Jamie Carragher whistled a 25-yard drive narrowly wide of the upright on the hour mark, Fernando Torres volleyed high and wide on 76 and Steven Gerrard looped a header just off target in the closing stages.

But the Italians held on for three vital points which means they are now level on points with Liverpool in Group E and three behind leaders Lyon who saw off Debrecen in Hungary.

The Reds will now look to pick themselves up in time for Sunday's crunch match with Chelsea.
Liverpool head to Stamford Bridge hoping to repeat last season's 1-0 success against the Londoners. The Reds brought an end to Chelsea's 86-match unbeaten run on home turf courtesy of Xabi Alonso's deflected strike, but they will have to be at their very best if they are to conjure up another three points against Carlo Ancelotti's men.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Torres on fire as Liverpool destroy Hull

Fernando Torres scored a stunning hat-trick as the Reds crushed Hull 6-1 at Anfield.

This was the fourth Liverpool hat-trick for Torres, who took his goal tally for the season to eight in seven matches including five in the last two league games.

After a shaky start to the season, Liverpool have now won their last six matches, scoring 18 goals in the process. They currently lie third in the Premier league table, and have the best goal difference.

Rafael Benitez made one change to the side that won at West Ham last weekend, with Riera replacing Mascherano in a more attack-minded selection.

The Spanish winger had an immediate impact as his low ball in from the left was shifted out of his feet by the quick-thinking Torres before he rolled into the far corner.

It was far from an ideal start for Hull, who had lost their previous three matches, but they quickly hit back when Skrtel could only flick the ball up in the air from a cross into the box, and Geovanni cooly directed it into the corner from 10 yards.

Torres restored the lead on the half hour mark, slipping on to a Benayoun through pass, rounding Sonko and Myhill before side-footing into the net.

Hull simply could not live with the Spanish marksman and he sealed his hat-trick two minutes after the break, again found by Benayoun and again coming inside Sonko before firing home.

Liverpool began to run riot, and Gerard scored Liverpool’s fourth with a cross-shot from the left that swirled over Myhill's head and flew in-off the crossbar. Babel then converted Kuyt’s cross at the near post for the fifth, and in injury time Riera's shot struck Babel and looped over Myhill to make it six.

Watch all the Liverpool goals here.

Liverpool next head to Florence knowing that a victory would put them well on course for a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League. The Reds got off to a winning start in Group E with a 1-0 success over Debrecen and another three points against the Italian side would leave put them in a strong qualifying position. The Italians suffered a 1-0 defeat against Lyon in their first match and need a positive result to get their campaign back on track.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Liverpool moves into Carling Cup last 16

Liverpool progressed into the last 16 of the Carling Cup following David Ngog’s winner against Leeds United at Elland Road, despite a spirited performance from the home team.

Rafael Benitez made nine changes to the team that won at West Ham on Saturday, with only Jamie Carragher and Javier Mascherano retaining their places. However, Liverpool big guns Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson were on the bench in case not all went according to plan.

Simon Grayson's team thought they had taken the lead in the 11th minute when Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio combined to turn in Lubomir Michalik's header, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Leeds wasted several more chances to shock the Reds before French striker Ngog broke the deadlock in the 66th minute. Ngog controlled Mascherano's mis-hit shot, turned and drove home a fine finish to silence the 39,000 capacity crowd.

Watch all the Liverpool goals here.

In their next game, Liverpool entertain struggling Hull City on Saturday hoping to extend their winning streak in the Barclays Premier League to four matches. The Reds have moved up to third place in the table following a difficult start to the campaign and will be determined to improve on last term's 2-2 draw against the Tigers in order to bolster their position.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Torres double sinks Hammers

Fernando Torres scored twice to help Liverpool overcome battling West Ham. The victory, Liverpool’s fourth successive win, lifted Liverpool into third place in the Barclays Premier League.

The Hammers, still looking for their first win since the opening day of the season, started off brightly and came within a whisker of taking the lead within only two minutes.

The Jamaican-born Hines, making his second Premier League start, stole possession from the napping Carragher on the edge of the box but could only curl his shot against the upright.

The Reds though, adopting a 4-2-3-1 formation with Torres as the solo striker, poured forward and grabbed the opener on 20 minutes thanks to a dash of Spanish magic.

The West Ham midfield lost the ball to Emiliano Insua and his through-ball found Torres on the left who weaved around James Tomkins before blasting over the on-rushing Green.

But the home side were back in the game in the 28th minute when referee Andre Marriner adjudged that Hines had been pushed by Carragher in the box.

Up stepped Italian Diamanti for the spot-kick and although the ball flew over Pepe Reina, the Liverpool bench were incensed, claiming the striker had kicked the ball twice after slipping.

Liverpool fought back and grabbed the lead again with Kuyt's boot getting on the end of a towering Gerrard header from an inswinging Benayoun corner.
For all of Liverpool's possession, West Ham's frontline was always threatening and stunned the visitors on the stroke of half-time when Cole outjumped three defenders to nod in the equaliser.

The second period was a case of West Ham hanging on with a handful of players suffering from cramp as Liverpool poured forward looking for the winning goal.

The Reds finally clinched the game in the 75th minute when substitute Babel’s cross was headed into the corner of the net by Torres from eight yards.
Watch all the Liverpool goals here.

In their next match, Liverpool begin their quest for the Carling Cup with a third round tie against Leeds United at Elland Road. The two teams haven't met since Leeds' relegation from the Barclays Premier League in 2004 and, last time, Harry Kewell and Milan Baros were the Reds' scorers in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Elland Road.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Winning start for Liverpool in Champions League

Dirk Kuyt's strike on the stroke of half-time gave Liverpool a narrow 1-0 win over Hungarian champions Debrecen in their Champions League opening game at Anfield.

Wednesday night's game was Rafa Benitez's 300th match in charge of the Reds and he afforded himself the luxury of naming the same Liverpool team that beat Burnley 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

In the first half action, Riera had two fierce strikes saved in the 38th and 39th minute, with Kuyt seeing a follow-up cleared off the line.

But after Gerrard sidefooted inches wide of the upright, the breakthrough came on 45 minutes when Debrecen's goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic parried a Torres shot and was helpless to prevent Kuyt from converting the rebound.

It was all Liverpool after the interval, with Gerrard whistling a 20-yard volley inches over the crossbar, Yossi Benayoun being denied by a fine save and Lucas Leiva and Torres heading good chances off target.

Despite failing to carve out a bigger victory, Liverpool fans will be happy that the main goal of making a winning start in Group E has been achieved comfortably.

Watch all the Liverpool goals here.

In their next match, Liverpool are back on the road in the Barclays Premier League and will travel to Upton Park to take on West Ham United. The Reds will be looking to secure their second away victory of the season - and they have enjoyed several good results in East London in recent years. Last season, Ryan Babel added to a Steven Gerrard brace as Liverpool ran out comfortable 3-0 victors. However, in 2007-08, West Ham claimed a 1-0 win with an injury-time Mark Noble penalty.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yossi hat-trick inspires Liverpool to fine victory over Burnley

Yossi Benayoun fired a hat-trick as Liverpool beat Premier League new boys Burnley 4-0 at Anfield.

Liverpool made two changes to the side that won at Bolton a fortnight ago.

Martin Skrtel returned to central defence in place of Greece international Sotirios Kyrgiakos, and with Javier Mascherano picking up a muscle injury while on international duty with Argentina, Yossi Benayoun came into midfield.

The absence of Mascherano meant that Steven Gerrard played in a much deeper role, alongside Lucas Leiva in the centre of midfield, while Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt were left to play just behind Fernando Torres.

The creativity produced by Benayoun showed he can help ease the pressure on Gerrard and Torres, and the lively Israel captain scored the opening goal with a fine individual effort in the 27th minute. He surged from midfield, turned away from Graham Alexander and moved into the box to fire across Jensen and into the bottom corner.

Liverpool went further ahead after 40 minutes with a dynamic five-man break from defence. Torres and Insua combined to set up Benayoun for a 20-yard shot that Jensen blocked, but only as far as Kuyt, who clipped the ball home from five yards.

Gerrard, playing in a deeper midfield role, still made an impact in attack as he forced his way into the Burnley box before squaring a ball for Benayoun to tap in for his second, and Liverpool’s third goal.

With the points secure, Benitez took the opportunity to give Philipp Degen his league debut 14 months into his Anfield stay.

This was Benayoun's day, however. The Israeli was denied a hat-trick by the offside flag after pouncing on another Jensen parry but he was not to be denied a second time when in the 81st minute, Voronin’s pass sent him clear in the box and he side-footed the ball past an exposed Jensen, having being played onside by Jordan.

Watch all the Liverpool goals here.

In their next match, Liverpool will kick-off their 2009-10 Champions League campaign with a home encounter against Debreceni on Wednesday. The Hungarian champions are something of an unknown quantity to the Reds as the two teams have never faced each other before.