Saturday 23rd October 2004 (5.15pm)
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Riise breaks the deadlock

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Benitez competitive matches record: Played 14 Won 7 Drawn 2 Lost 5
Liverpool 2-0 Charlton Athletic

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Riise 52
Luis Garcia 74

» Match Report

Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent home record in the Barclays Premiership with a confident victory that moved them up to fifth in the table.

Both goals were long-range efforts from outside the box, with first John Arne Riise and then Luis Garcia crashing home fine drives that finally broke the resistence of a defiant Dean Kiely.

Charlton, still with only one away point all season, defended stoutly but never got close to upsetting a Liverpool side finally beginning to play with pace and confidence - and still with a game in hand over all the clubs above them.

And for boss Rafael Benitez, suffering from a heavy cold after his first taste of a north-west winter rather than the sun of Valencia, at least saw signs of sustained improvement to warm his heart.

Steve Finnan came into the side at right-back with Josemi suspended, as Liverpool welcomed back old boy Danny Murphy, now at the heart of a Charlton side after his surprise summer move from Anfield.

The match also saw referee Andy D'Urso's comeback to the Premiership for the first time since he failed to send off Barry Ferguson back in August after showing him the yellow card twice.

And Liverpool were on the front foot from the start, Luis Garcia heading wide before seeing a left-foot volley tipped around a post by Kiely.

That was the story of much of the first half hour as Liverpool sought to batter a Charlton defence which had conceded more goals away from home than any other side in the top flight.

Sami Hyypia had a header cleared off the line by Murphy following a Luis Garcia corner as Charlton's goal led a charmed life.

Liverpool went even closer when Dietmar Hamann pushed a free-kick to Djibril Cisse, who struck the foot of a post from 25 yards.

Milan Baros was next to go close, heading wide from six yards.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley had started the game in the directors' box, but by now he was on touchline with assistant Mervyn Day barking out orders as Charlton struggled to stem the flow.

But Liverpool were wasteful. Riise scorned two openings, while Baros arrived unmarked eight yards out to meet a Luis Garcia cross but sent a header straight at a relieved Kiely.

To their credit, Charlton slowly worked their way into a game they could have lost in those opening minutes.

Matt Holland and Graham Stuart started to figure in midfield while Hermann Hreidarsson and Chris Perry came to terms more with the pace and movement of Baros and Cisse.

But Liverpool still found chances coming and going, Cisse and Baros both blazing over from eight yards out before Cisse made a fine 50-yard run before hooking the ball into the box only for Luis Garcia to not quite get there quickly enough in support.

The second period saw Cisse pushed out wide on the right, from where he performed much better when the same move was made at Fulham last weekend.

One fine high speed run and cross from Cisse suggested he could be more productive on the right flank.

One of his runs eventually saw a free-kick won 25 yards out, and Xabi Alonso saw his curling effort pawed away by Kiely.

Cisse's next run won the corner that eventually saw Liverpool go ahead on 56 minutes.

Xabi Alonso saw his header blocked from Luis Garcia's flag kick and when the ball came out of the box it was met by Riise who drove the ball past Kiely's right hand.

Baros and Finnan both went close before Charlton introduced former Everton striker Francis Jeffers, to predictable abuse from the Kop.

And the striker managed to get himself booked for two offences inside the first seven minutes of his involvement in the match.

Charlton had still barely managed an effort to bother Chris Kirkland, while Liverpool pounded away at the other end.

And they finally gave themselves some breathing space with another spectacular goal from outside the box.

Xabi Alonso fed fellow countryman Luis Garcia, and the little forward lashed a fine, dipping volley from 25 yards that flashed past Kiely for the second.

Cisse was by now tormenting anyone in his line of vision as he next skinned Parry before crossing just too far away from Kewell.

This was a hugely encouraging display by Liverpool after the midweek frustrations of failing to score against Deportivo La Coruna in the Champions League.

Last season Charlton won at Anfield for the first time in 50 years but there was never the chance of them repeating that triumph. in this one.

Press Association

» Teams

Liverpool Kirkland, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Traore (Warnock 86), Luis Garcia, Alonso, Hamann, Riise (Kewell 64), Baros (Sinama Pongolle 77), Cisse.

Subs Not Used: Dudek, Diao.

Charlton Kiely, Young, Perry, Fortune, Hreidarsson, Rommedahl (Jeffers 63), Stuart, Holland, Murphy, Lisbie (Hughes 78), Bartlett (Euell 71).

Subs Not Used: El Karkouri, Andersen.

Booked: Jeffers.

Att: 41,625

Ref: A D'Urso (Essex).

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Match Report filed: 24th October 2004