Torres 3, 60, Johnson 32
What a difference a week makes!
A very enjoyable outing in the spring sunshine and a refreshing attacking performance and three points. Such a long way from the tetchy miserablness of Old Trafford. What is the best antidote to a poor game? Attack it would seem. We should try it more often! Fourth place is still a long way, as others still have games in hand, however, if play like this for the remainder of the season, and there is no reason why not given our run in, we can justifiably be confident.
Rafa’s team selection was positive. Babel was recalled and Lucas dropped to the bench. Kuyt was moved forward to accompany Torres and Gerrard, perhaps in an attempt to sort out his poor form, was restored to the central midfield position where he has done so well for us in the past.
I guess now is the time for all the contemplation and living to fight for another day to go. A time for action and being positive and the team began the game like this was the case and tore into Sunderland. On the weekend the clocks went forward it’s as almost as if we decided to take our game in the same direction. The ball was pinged about with a confidence and, dare I say it, enthusiasm that had hither to been missing for long periods this season. Inevitably it leads one to wonder why we couldn’t do this earlier in the campaign. We are, as near as dam it, at full strength but there must other reasons howver, if I knew what they were I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this sh*t!
With less than a minute on the clock Agger had tested Gordon, in the Sunderland goal to the full with a crashing volley from Gerrard’s free kick All to often when this happens you get nothing for it and then, blow me, they opposition storm up the pitch and nick one. Given our luck this season it would have been a predictable scenario. However after three minutes Torres picked up the ball on the left cut inside Turner and with nothing much on, and two Sunderland defenders looking to sandwich him, he decided to float the ball perfectly between the angle of post and crossbar giving Gordon no chance. Did he mean it? Yes and the perfect start for us.
The early goal gave us a handy foothold enabling us to move on and try force home our advantage even further. Sunderland were pinned back into their own half unable to get a grip on the game as our players queued up to try their luck. Mascherano, Babel, Torres (again), Gerrard, Agger (twice), Maxi all had a chances hell if Lucas had been on the pitch even he might have had a go! In truth the game could have been finished after half an hour however a combination of poor finishing, excellent keeping from Gordon and dogged defending by Sunderland, who were desperately trying to keep their heads above, the surging red tide, meant that we had to wait until just after the half hour before widening the gap.
Johnson, picking Bent’s headed clearance from Gerrard’s corner on the edge of the area, turned inside Malbranque and rifled in a second via small deflection. A tad unlucky for Sunderland but only no one would argue that the lead wasn’t deserved and even a three goals lead had Torres found the bottom corner instead of the post
The second half and the two goal lead saw us in confident mood. Torres added a superb third which technically was even better that his first. Maxi and Johnson combined to feed Torres who was on the penalty spot. When others would have opted to hurriedly blast it past the advancing Turner, Torres simply bided his time and coolly guided it past him into an empty net after the defender had dived in.
All done and dusted and fairly early meaning Rafa was able to make the changes he needed to protect key personnel for Benfica. As for Sunderland it was one of those days, they did enough huffing and puffing to fill a thousand beach balls!
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Insua, Carragher, Gerrard (El Zhar 81), Maxi, Mascherano, Torres (Ngog 78), Kuyt (Aquilani 71), Babel Substitutes: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Aquilani, Benayoun, Lucas, Ngog, El Zhar
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Turner, Ferdinand, Malbranque (Jones 51), Richardson, Henderson (Zenden 78), Cana, Cattermole (Da Silva 46), Campbell, Bent Substitutes: Carson, Da Silva, Kilgallon, Liddle, Zenden, Jones, Mwaruwari