Liverpool reclaimed their place at the top of the table after beating Portsmouth in what turned out to be a thrilling away game.
Many would have frowned upon the team selection when it was released before the game, what with Alonso, Kuyt and Torres all taking seats on the bench. But it later proved a wise move when it looked like some points might yet again slip away from the reds. But after another mouthwatering come back from Liverpool with the determination not to head back up north empty handed, all three points were taken for the reds.
After Liverpool bossing a lot of possession, it was Portsmouth who scored first against the run of play. And after Liverpool’s exit from the FA Cup at the hands of their bitter rivals, it was typical that Everton fan Nugent was to score that goal. But his taunts, celebrations and smiles were soon wiped of his face when Liverpool were awarded an in-direct free kick in Portsmouth’s penalty area. And Aurelio didn’t mess about when he rocketed his shot in the corner of David James’ net.
Liverpool began to up their tempo looking for a second goal, but it was Portsmouth who took the lead for a second time. Hreidarsson latched onto the end of a free kick to head the ball past Pepe Reina – who probably could have done better. But not long after, Kuyt’s graft paid off in the penalty area to blast the ball past David James at his near post and get the reds back on track.
With only minutes to go and things getting really desperate to avoid a draw, Benayoun stepped up the pressure with a cross into the Portsmouth box and the man who is going to be hugely important in the rest of Liverpool’s season, Fernando Torres, latched onto the cross with a bullet of a header that nearly burst the net.
The traveling, faithful Liverpool fans were bouncing and rightly so. Because Liverpool had answered to the critics once again when it really did matter.
Liverpool’s team selection could have been the main focus in the Sunday papers tomorrow morning. More questions would have been asked of Rafa Benitez if it hadn’t turned out well. But it did. Liverpool got to rest some of their most important players and some of the squad players got to play some first team football. Substitutions were used to full effect and a massive boost to confidence was restored.
So now, thankfully, the result will be talked about and the reds can focus on their next vital league game.
GoalsFabio Aurelio Dirk Kuyt Fernando Torres
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Dossena (Alonso 67), Arbeloa, Mascherano, Aurelio, Babel (Torres 76), Ngog (Kuyt 56), Benayoun.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Riera, El Zhar.
Goals: Aurelio 69, Kuyt 85, Torres 90.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Basinas, Davis, Mullins (Kranjcar 46), Belhadj, Crouch, Nugent.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Lauren, Mvuemba, Pamarot, Kanu, Gekas.
Goals: Nugent 62, Hreidarsson 78.
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).