Mascherano 19, Torres 48.
So, after Inter it’s back to the business of the Premier League. We better get used to it, we might not play another foreign team this season, even if we stay in Europe!
Traditionally we haven’t exactly covered ourselves in glory in the league after European games and with a few exceptions the trend has continued this season. After only five minutes ominous and familiar signs were on the wall thanks to a sluggish start. However, perhaps it is an indication of the way things are with us lately that we kept our heads and finally won through to notch our fifth consecutive Premiership win?
Rafa made two changes Arbeloa and Alonso for Hyypia and Lucas. Proof, if ever it were needed, that he is rationing the rotation. After the San Siro and with The Mancs coming up this game would have been ripe, in Rafa’s book at least, for call of “all change”?
If anyone was still basking in the Tuesday’s victory then they were about to get a rude wake up call. Aurelio was caught in possession and had to be bailed out by Srktel. Then Reading were wrongly awarded a free kick near the corner flag after Arbeloa was alleged to have upended Hunt. Replays proved the tackle was a good one. We packed the area expecting the cross however Hunt played it to an unmarked Matejovsky on the edge. Six of our defenders realised the danger and charged, no ambled, out leaving the Czech free to pick his spot and blast home off the cross bar.
This was enough to make us stir ourselves. Torres was denied by Hahnemann after a good through ball from Gerrard but we were asleep again when an unmarked Ostler was unlucky not to get on the end of Long’s pass and make it two. Then Mascherano struck and for once The Kop and low fling birds did not have to resort to evasive action! Picking up Babel’s pass the Argentinean cut inside Hunt, veered to his right and unleashed a cracker past an initially unsighted Hahnermann.
Next Babel was to make his mark dipping inside to unleash a fierce effort that Hahnemann could only punch away and then having his stooping near post header ruled out for offside. Alonso finished off the first half fireworks with another long range fizzer that flashed past Hahnermanns left hand post.
Just as we were caught napping at the start of the first half so were Reading in the second. Two minutes in Rosenior bought down Torres on the left. Gerrard’s floated free kick found The Spaniard, who had been extremely inconsiderate to Bikey by not standing still and letting him mark him, who headed home.
After that there was only going to be one winner although we were lucky not to concede penalty right at the death when Kitson’s shot ricocheted off Gerrard’s foot up onto his hand. Then it all got a bit silly. Reading packing the box with everyone including Hahnermann before Alonso nearly exploited this with a sixty yard long area effort towards the empty goal.
Not a great game but a few red letters. Mas’s first goal and then Torres becoming the first player to score 20 league goals in a season for us since Robbie Fowler in 1996. Above all however, momentum maintained and a full eight days to rest before the small matter of the Mancs at their place. This is the first of a series of fixtures that will test the mettle of this side and answer whether our recent form is temporary or, of a class suggesting something more permanent?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Kuyt (Benayoun 80), Gerrard (Hyypia 90), Babel (Riise 83), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Crouch.
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Oster (Kebe 72), Harper, Matejovsky (Cisse 74), Hunt, Doyle, Long (Kitson 63).
Subs Not Used: Federici, Sonko.