Torres 59, 62.
All good things come to those who wait. After an indifferent week we ended on a performance that all Red fans would want to see and expect. Although we have started well compared to other seasons the feeling is still one of relief. The team delivered when perhaps where was a suspicion after last Saturday that we might sell ourselves short again?
The fact that it was Everton makes more enjoyable but the important thing was the win, and the manner in which we achieved it. Hopefully it also gives a kick start to Fernando Torres’ season. To date we’d been treated to only one goal, against Sunderland, but yesterday in the space of three minutes, it all fell into place and, had it not been for referee Riley’s incompetence, he would have had a hat trick in five.
What was also encouraging was further evidence the Torres and Keane are finally beginning to get it together. It’s easy to praise Torres for his goals but Keane’s contribution should not be underestimated. He made some great runs, to close down Everton or create space for Torres. He made the first goal and had a hand in the second displaying an unselfishness in his overall play that deserved more than another blank day.
Rafa resisted the urge to rotate showing faith in the side that lined up against Stoke. No doubt Mascherano would have played had he been fit but nonetheless it’s a far cry from the days of rotation. Last week’s result a few years ago, or even last season, would have surely tempted Rafa to change things? Instead he gave the team a chance to right the wrong even though four of them Arbeloa, Dossena, Riera and Keane, were making their derby debuts.
The first half was understandably cagey. Although we had plenty of play, and looked the better of the two sides, we didn’t really threaten the Everton goal. All too often moves broke down once we entered the danger area either through Everton intervention, or our own lack of inspiration. The time of day, nerves, or simply trying to find our feet? Who knows? Nonetheless I don’t think there was too much for us to worry about as we went in for the break. Surely the chances would come if we kept plugging away? Surely Torres, who had a quiet half, wouldn’t stay that way for long?
The second half began with our first real chance, a Gerrard “grass cutter” from all of forty yards that looked innocuous right until the moment it just missed Howard’s left post. Before that Torres saw yellow which made me worry for him. Things weren’t going his way and should it continue this, together with Mike Riley’s pedantry, might put him in danger of getting sent off. Luckily there was little to worry about.
Riera won the ball in midfield and fed Alonso who rather than set the winger off on a run, opted to knock a straight ball to the on running Keane. The subsequent cross was perfect finding a completely unmarked Torres who had the easiest of tasks to end the stalemate. A great move but what the Everton defence were doing to leave Torres free like that is beyond me, but who cares! This was probably our most important goal of the season so far, giving us tangible evidence of the work the front two are doing to reach some understanding.
Three minutes later it was all but over. Keane threaded through a ball that took out two Everton defenders and found Kuyt. Before he could pull the trigger The Dutchman was tackled by Jagielka however, the ball fell into Torres’ path who again was unmarked. Howard was left rooted to the spot as he clipped the ball into the roof of the net. Thank you and good afternoon!
By now we were threatening to overrun Everton. Torres was denied a perfectly decent third goal firing home from an acute angle when Riley awarded free kick against Kuyt for basically touching an Everton defender. This was Riley’s second high profile game, he refereed Chelsea v The Mancs last week, and his second poor game. No understanding, no common sense, literally interpreting the rules showing an unnecessary pedantry by whistling for every indiscretion no matter how small. A poor, poor performance which flies in the face of the respect initiative. Respect has to be earned not commanded, Riley’s performance did neither it was just bad. It was no surprise that he made another ham fisted attempt to be the centre of attention by needlessly sending off Cahill for a tackle on Alonso that was worth a yellow card at worst.
However, for all his efforts, this was never, ever going to be Riley’s day. It was all about Fernando Torres. I guess it’s a good sign that this season we’ve got so far without him. However, like Gerrard, when we need him he usually delivers. Long may he continue to do so.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Saha 63), Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Fellaini, Osman, Cahill, Yakubu. Subs Not Used: Nash, Baines, Castillo, Vaughan, Nuno Valente, Rodwell.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt, Alonso (Leiva Lucas 86), Gerrard, Riera (Aurelio 67), Torres, Keane (Pennant 86). Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger, Babel.