Saturday 2nd February 2008 @ 5.15 pm
Another tale of two halves as Liverpool’s first half left lots to be desired. But kicking towards the Kop second half, and that extra ounce of quality thanks to Crouch and Torres ensured the reds started February in much better shape.
Sunderland arrived at Anfield like many other sides this season, keen to get men behind the ball.
The first half produced three shots between each sides and Liverpool were on the whole woeful in the two P’s; passion and passing.
Benitez opted to play Carragher at right back, with Skrtel and Hyypia taking the berths in central defence. Kuyt was benched, and Crouch handed a rare Premiership start.
The second half and the reds injected a little more quality in to their play, Lucas was struggling to find a red shirt but it was the reds new right back, Carragher, who teed up a perfect cross for Crouch to head in to the net. A sense of relief was felt all around Anfield.
Crouch had a number of chances to double the lead, including one attempt at his trademark bicycle kick, but it was the power and raw speed of Fernando Torres that helped the reds get their second. A midfield ball was fed to the pacy striker who held off the Sunderland defender before smashing the ball in to the net.
Then, the reds took their foot of the gas. Sunderland fans screamed when a shot hit Carragher’s arm from about 2 foot away. The referee, rightly, waved play on.
Towards the end of the game, the reds looked ready to land their third when Pennant had his legs taken and Gerrard stepped up to score the penalty. The keeper got a hand to it, but the power of the shot ensured Liverpool took three points from their three goal victory.
Post Match Reaction
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
“I want to say thank you to the supporters, when we needed them they were behind the team.
“Today we knew it could be a tough game so we needed to keep going. Our supporters were waiting and we started the second half well. They were behind us and it was a massive difference.
“As soon as we scored the first goal the game was open. When you have your confidence low it is important to win, so there are a lot of positive things today.”
Sunderland manager Roy Keane on his side’s two penalty appeals:
“We felt they were penalties. But I didn’t feel we were going to get those decisions today.
“I don’t want it to sound like sour grapes but on another day I think they might been given our way.
“How we are going to do this season will depend on our home form. Anything we got today would have been a big bonus.”
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Skrtel, Aurelio (Finnan 46), Pennant, Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas (Benayoun 61), Crouch (Kuyt 83), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Babel.
Goals: Crouch 57, Torres 69, Gerrard 89 pen.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Evans, Collins, Chopra (Waghorn 83), Whitehead, Miller, Richardson (Prica 7), Murphy, Jones, Prica (O’Donovan 55).
Subs Not Used: Fulop, McShane.
Booked: Miller, Gordon.
Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).