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Anfield Online
Saturday 2nd December 2006
at The JJB Stadium, Wigan
FA Premiership
WIGAN 0-4 liverpoool


GOALS: Bellamy (9,26), Kuyt (40), McCulloch o.g. (45)

LIVERPOOL TEAM: (4-4-2) - Xabi Alonso returned from injury, Pennant drops to the bench. Bellamy returns - with Crouch being rested. Carragher moves back to central defence, Riise moves up to left wing.







Alonso ][



Unused Subs: Dudek, Fowler
][ = Yellow Card
Name = goalscorer and time(s)

Pennant for Garcia (53)
Paletta for Hyypia (61)
Guthrie for Gerrard (79)


Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Boyce, Jackson, Hall, Baines, McCulloch, Skoko, Scharner, Kilbana, Camara, Heskey. Subs: Pollitt, Johanson, Lanzaat, Wright, Cotterill

Att: x
Ref: M Riley


Craig Bellamy opens on 6 minutes
The start of a beautiful friendship?


Craig Bellamy netted twice as rampant Liverpool strode towards their first Premiership away win.

Four days after being cleared on assault charges by a Cardiff court, Bellamy was back to what he does best, producing two clinical finishes to leave Wigan gasping.

Bellamy then unselfishly spurned a hat-trick chance to tee up Dirk Kuyt for a third before Lee McCulloch netted an own goal to complete a miserable first 45 minutes for Wigan.

Bellamy returned to the Liverpool starting line-up.

Xabi Alonso was also back for the visitors after a recent hip injury, while Peter Crouch missed out with a back problem. Latics duo Chris Kirkland and Emile Heskey were included against their former club.

Fitz Hall made a couple of headed clearances as Liverpool pressed during the opening stages and was then on hand to steer a Dirk Kuyt cross out of his own area.

Bellamy was stopped in his tracks by a ridiculously late offside flag, which seemed to be correct, although some of the Wigan players had already stopped for what appeared to be a foul by Luis Garcia on Leighton Baines.

Any frustration Bellamy may have felt at being denied a clear sight at goal was extinguished after eight minutes when he raced on to a loose ball after John Arne Riise's long punt forward skimmed off Emmerson Boyce's head.

After shrugging off Matt Jackson, Bellamy continued his run and beat Kirkland with a neat finish, the first Premiership goal Liverpool have scored in open play away from Anfield this season.

Hall then found himself in the bizarre position of being booked for hauling Bellamy down even though an offside flag had already been raised against the Liverpool man.

Kirkland was able to smother when Steven Gerrard attempted to find Bellamy with a cutback before Wigan had a penalty appeal turned down when Jamie Carragher barged into Heskey.

Instead, all the hosts got was a corner, which only brought them more anger as Heskey was harshly cautioned for charging into Gerrard as he challenged for the ball.

Alonso was booked when he chopped down Kilbane although Wigan could make nothing of the free-kick.

The hosts were starting to get back into the game only for Liverpool to hit them with a sucker punch after 25 minutes as Bellamy bagged a second.

Once more, the hosts were the architects of their own downfall with first Boyce, then Josip Skoko failing to clear, offering the chance for Gerrard to prod the ball into the Latics box.

Bellamy needed no second invitation, finishing this chance as clinically as he had done the first.

Wigan desperately needed some inspiration and they almost got it too as Paul Scharner rose to meet Boyce's cross with a powerful header.

Jose Reina made a fine save but McCulloch should still have buried the rebound instead of firing his volley over.

Reina was Liverpool's hero again shortly afterwards as he raced out to block Heskey from close range. Once more the loose ball fell to a Wigan man but Camara had no more success in finding the visitors' net than McCulloch.

Camara forced Reina into another low stop but it was not long before Liverpool had a third, Gerrard superbly taking down Garcia's cross-field pass, then feeding Bellamy.

The striker could have gone for his hat-trick, instead he squared to Kuyt, who could not miss.

Worse was to come for Wigan in the final minute of the half as Gerrard's low cross created panic and McCulloch ended up turning the ball into his own net.

HT: Wigan Athletic 0 Liverpool 4

It was hardly a surprise when Latics boss Paul Jewell made a couple of changes at the break, introducing David Cotterill and David Wright for Kilbane and Jackson, neither of whom had made much of an impact on the opening period.

Kirkland made a solid stop to deny Riise as Liverpool signalled their intention not to sit on an already handsome lead.

Baines kept his nerve to nod Riise's cross back to Kirkland as Kuyt steamed in behind him.

Scharner thought he had pulled one back for the hosts when he nodded home Skoko's free-kick, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

Benitez then brought on Jermaine Pennant for Garcia before Kirkland, put under undue pressure by Baines' back-pass, screwed a clearance wildly out of play close to the corner flag.

The former Liverpool goalkeeper was far more certain when he collected Pennant's downward header, not that it was doing Wigan much good as they struggled to breakdown a Liverpool defence now manned by five players as Riise dropped back.

Wigan tried hard but it was Liverpool who came closest to getting another when Steve Finnan flashed an angled drive just wide.

Simon Stone, PA

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