Torres 4, Johnson 45, Kuyt 78, Ngog 90
Stoke City 0
So that’s it, crisis over eh? We’ve recovered from the loss of Alonso and now The Mancs, having lost to Burnley, are all of sudden missing Ronaldo! My how quickly things turn around in football. Oh now Rafa’s supposed to be leaving!
All nonsense of course however, a win which hopefully smoothes out any anxiety that might have arisen from Sunday and a win, not to mention a goal or four, over Stoke who were so resolute against us last season.
Rafa’s choices were again limited. Ayala was bought in for Skrtel who clearly hadn’t recovered from playing head conkers with Jamie Carragher at White Hart Lane. Carragher made it but sported a large, black protective bandage. Not surprisingly Rafa’s answer to yet another exasperatingly flat performance by Ryan Babel was to bench him and bring in Benayoun.
Before this game Rafa had warned Fernando Torres to stop reacting to players who wind him and concentrate on doing what he does best. Quite how Torres felt about this we don’t know but whatever his thoughts the answer was the best possible. After only four minutes Gerrard exchanged a one two with Lucas which enabled him to romp through some rather loose Stoke covering and square to Torres on the penalty spot who gave Sorensen no chance.
After the goal Stoke improved however, we could have killed it off but Insua missed a sitter steering the ball into side netting from Torres’ cross when basically he could have picked his spot. Not to be outdone by Skrtel and Carragher, Torres picked up a head cut after a clash with Shawcross – obviously such marks are “de rigueur” in the Liverpool changing room!
Just as Tony Pulis was rehearsing his half time “keep it going we’re still in the game” pep talk we punctured their defence again. Johnson with a well taken bicycle kick after Kuyt’s header, from Gerrard’s corner, had been cleared off the line. A crucial strike at crucial time. Nonetheless Stoke came out fighting and attempted to get back in the game with Delap’s ferocious shot producing a superb diving save from Reina. Later Delap again was just an inch away from “toeing” Beattie’s centre into the net. However, as Stoke pushed further forward more gaps opened up enabling Kuyt to bravely turn in from close range after a superb turn and cross from Gerrard. Ngog finished things off right at the death heading Johnson’s deflected cross into an empty net.
A good result, a good response to Sunday and, I guess, an improvement on last season in overcoming the type of side we had difficulty with last season. And welcome to season 2009-10 Steven Gerrard (even though it’s game late) with a hand in three of the four goals. Said Rafa
“The first goal was important and the second was a big difference because they had to go forward, we had more space. We were patient, played well on the ball and took our chances.”
Now a chance to rest and get players fit before Aston Villa on Monday.
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Carragher, Sanchez Ayala, Johnson, Benayoun, Mascherano, Leiva, Kuyt, Gerrard (captain), Torres. Subs – Voronin, Cavalieri, Dossena, Ngog, Riera, Kelly, Babel
Stoke City: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Shawcross, Faye (captain), Wilkinson, Etherington, Delap, Whitehead, Whelan, Cresswell, Beattie. Subs – Cort, Simonsen, Pugh, Fuller, Griffin, Lawrence, Kitson
League position 4th