Barclays Premiership, Saturday 22nd April 2007
Liverpool 2 Wigan 0
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher (Agger, 73), Hyypia, Riise, Pennant, Alonso, Zenden (Gerrard, 70), Gonzalez, Kuyt, Crouch (Bellamy, 63)
Unused subs: Dudek, Mascherano
Bookings: Carragher 11, Alonso 63
Goals: Kuyt 30, 68
Wigan: Filan, Boyce, Jackson, De Zeeuw, Baines, Scharner, Taylor (Camara, 46), Skoko, Landzaat (Aghahowa, 70), Kilbane, Heskey (Folan, 64)
Unused subs: Pollitt, Granqvist
Bookings: Scharner 72, De Zeeuw 74
Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez was delighted that he’d achieved the target for the season of a top-four finish and a place in the qualifiers for the Champions League next season. And he’d done it without risking too many players ahead of the semi-final first leg of this season’s Champions League on Wednesday: “This was the ideal situation. We wanted a good game, a good result, to score a few and control the game. We wanted to rest some players like Steven Gerrard and we didn’t want any injuries. In the end it was an almost perfect day for us because we have no injuries.
“It was important with three games still to play to be sure of qualifying for the Champions League next season, and we have done that. we can now concentrate on the Champions League semi-final We have been in the Champions League for the last three seasons and we want to make sure of it again.
“It was hard against a team playing that way, but the key was to keep possession, keep passing the ball at pace and find the gaps. We had to be patient but we controlled the game and I am pleased for Kuyt. He always works hard for the team and he is a very good finisher as he showed with his two goals.”
Wigan manager Paul Jewell’s concerns are all about avoiding relegation, but he admitted that he never expected to get a win the game, but he was fairly pleased with the outcome all things considered: “Liverpool strolled through the game, they were on top from start to finish so let’s not try to kid ourselves. We can’t come here and compete with Liverpool on a player-by-player basis, we have to play exceptionally well on the day and they have to play badly, but today we didn’t play well enough with the ball.”
“They cruised it when they had the ball. It’s 16 times we have played a top-four side since we got promotion and we still haven’t had a win. They are not really in our league even though we are in the same division.
“We came with a game plan to try and frustrate Liverpool and quieten the crowd and it probably wasn’t very petty to watch. It was a poor game and we never looked like scoring although we then gave a bad goal away and we then had to come out of our shells a bit. But we are playing for big stakes, and goal difference might come into it, and even when we were 2-0 down I did not want to open up too much because if we ended up getting four or five past us, it might prove vital.
“We never had a shot first half, and I do not like playing that way to be perfectly honest, but I didn’t think we could come here and attack Liverpool with the quality they have at this stage of the season. It was always going to be difficult coming to Anfield.”
Stats: (Liverpool – Wigan)
Possession: 62% – 38%
Shots on target: 12 – 3
Shots off target: 12 – 1
Corners: 13 – 3
Fouls: 10 – 10
Referee: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire)