Sat 10th November 2007 (5:15pm)
FA Premiership @ Anfield
After the midweek hammering of Besiktas the reds were always going to be facing an uphill struggle but it was Fernando Torres who helped ensure the reds continued their revival.
The reds record signing returned from injury to score the goal, 10 minutes from time, which broke the deadlock at Anfield today. The goal may have been crafted with an assist from Reina, but the finish was sublime. Does the Spaniard score simple goals?
As kick off approached in Rafa Benitez’ 200th competitive game in charge of Liverpool FC all eyes were on the teamsheet. When Benitez decided to keep the same side a wry smile probably hit every Liverpudlian’s face. Not many months ago Benitez was about to make it 100 consecutive team rotations until he once before decided to stick with the same side. The man appears to like milestones, and rubbing the media’s face in it.
So the goatee remains, as the reds unbeaten league run continues, and they move in to 4th place. Six draws and six wins in 12 games may not be sparkling, but it is the sign of a reds side moving in the right direction.
The reds looked bold from the outset, a number of chances landed to the reds, notably a Sami Hyypia shot early on after he had received the pass from a Gerrard free kick. Danny Murphy, the former red now at Fulham, looked keen to prove a point to his former employers too.
As the first half wore on Fulham were brought more in to the game. Their defence was well marshalled and they clearly looked like another side intent on leaving Anfield with a point in the bag.
Voronin worked tirelessly, controlling a lot of the attacking play, but the best chance fell to Peter Crouch just before the break who had a header rebounded off the cross-bar.
In the second half, the Fulham keeper was increasingly being brought in to play, and when Babel and Torres arrived off the substitutes bench the expectations rose.
A huge kick from Reina, real route one stuff as the minutes ticked away, landed at Torres feet. Then sheer class took over. The Spaniard controlled and turned, and twisted again, before putting the ball in to the back of the net in front of the Kop.
Within minutes Peter Crouch was fouled and the referee awarded the spot kick which Gerrard despatched in to the bottom corner.
After 80 minutes of huffing and puffing, Liverpool eventually knocked the Fulham door open. The Londoners were by now a beaten side and the reds knew the three points were safe.
We’re not looking quite like Pele’s Brazil just yet – but the Premiership table may start to worry the other 19 teams in the league. Imagine where we will be when we start playing to the top of our game?
“Their keeper was really good but we were creating chances and at the end we could score a second goal because they were a little bit open.
“We knew Fulham would work hard till the end but we needed to keep going, passing the ball and trying to do our job.
“It’s always important to win, but especially when you know that for 10-15 days you won’t have another game, so our people will be happy for at least 10-15 days!”
Fulham boss, Lawrie Sanchez
“I thought we pretty much contained them in the second half but the problem was we thought we had coped so well we could go on and nick it.
“We’re not a bad side but we’re not quite at the level where can live with a team like Liverpool for 90 minutes.
“But overall I’m pleased with the performance. When you come to a place like this you know they can go away from teams but we stayed with them until the end.”
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio, Benayoun, Mascherano (Lucas 81), Gerrard, Riise (Babel 62), Voronin (Torres 70), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Martin, Finnan.
Goals: Torres 81, Gerrard 85 pen.
Fulham: Niemi, Baird, Hughes, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Davies, Davis, Murphy, Dempsey (Kamara 69), Kuqi, Healy (Bouazza 60).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Smertin, Leijer.
Booked: Murphy, Dempsey.
Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).
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