Torres 89, 90.
So the “must win” game has been won. Sighs of relief all round as the descent into on and off the field ignominy is halted, albeit temporarily!
It would have been easy for the team to let all the flack and speculation get to them however they played with purpose and determination. They were also positive which flies in the face of recent comments over our approach. Many will say Lampard’s sending off was a decisive factor but there can be no doubt that we deserved to win. As for Rafa, rumours concerning his sectioning appear to be exaggerated!
There was only one talking point about Rafa’s selection and that was the omission of Robbie Keane, not just from the starting line up but also the squad. Although Rafa, as recently as few weeks ago, has stated that Keane is going nowhere, the next few days as the transfer window prepares to shut, will be interesting? Fresh rumours concerning a swap with Spurs’ Aaron Lennon have resurfaced.
From the whistle it was clear we wanted to take the game to Chelsea and although they seemed to have more possession, we created more chances. Alonso and Mascherano were the first to test Cech by spearing in shots from distance. The tempo was maintained throughout the half with Torres having a certain goal prevented by Alex’s desperate lunge. Then Riera and Gerrard combined to nearly produce an Ashley Cole own goal. Later the same two carved out an opening however the move broke down when Riera opted to play the ball back to Gerrard via a fancy flick rather than take the chance on himself.
Into the second half and the key talking point was Lampard’s sending off. He and Alonso contested a fifty fifty ball in the middle of the park. Lampard’s foot was high however he won the ball cleanly. In fact it was Alonso, in trying to get the ball, who initiated contact with the sole of Lampard’s boot. It was a soft decision by Mike Riley and an inconsistent one. Earlier Gerrard had arguably produced a more serious challenge on Kalou and escaped with only a warning. Later in the game the same happened to Bosingwa after he had tried to “assist” Benayoun, wasting time in the corner, into the stand with the sole of his boot!
The life of Riley seems to be a confused and befuddled one. It’s not the first time he has had a poor game involving us. He was at fault in last October’s derby in deciding to send off Tim Cahill? The fact both incidents didn’t go against us is irrelevant. It is simply another case of very poor decision making from one of our so called top referees. I think we would have still won with Lampard on the pitch but week after week we see referees continually proved to be at fault. Such incompetence should not be allowed to potently jeopardise the outcome of games in this way?
After the sending off we turned the screw. Alonso’s shot was deflected onto the bar by Alex. Mikel cleared from Torres. Benayoun, who has improved no end since giving away a daft free kick in the derby game, tested Cech and then volleyed onto the roof of the net. The breakthrough was achieved as Gerrard fed Aurelio who was tightly hugging the touch line on the left wing. The cross allowed Torres to perfectly time his run along the edge of the six yard box, nip in front of Alex and glance the header home. All that remained was for Cech to palm Gerrard’s dipper over the bar then Torres to apply the “coup de grace” after Benayoun had seized on Ashley Cole’s mistake.
So, off the ropes and still in the fight? Critics and speculation answered? It remains a little early to say, one game doesn’t make things Ok just as one rant doesn’t mean the end of the world! However, we answered all this in the best and most sensible way, on the pitch so, for now, I am just content to enjoy the win. After all when all is said and done, that’s what it’s all about!
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano (Babel 83), Riera (Benayoun 74), Gerrard, Torres (Ngog 90).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Agger, Leiva Lucas.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou (Stoch 85), Anelka (Drogba 69), Malouda (Deco 69).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Mancienne.