League Cup: Reading 2 Liverpool 4

Carling Cup, September 25th 2007

Reading 2 Liverpool 4

Half-time: 1-1

Reading: 32 Federici, 14 Halls (12 Kitson, 80), 29 Duberry, 22 Bikey, 3 Shorey, 23 De la Cruz, 15 Harper, 17 Convey (10 Hunt, 80), 20 Fae, 24 Long (34 Henry, 79), 8 Lita
Unused subs: 1 Hahnemann, 4 Cisse
Goals: Convey 28, Halls 64
Bookings: Bikey 51, Duberry 59, Fae 68

Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 21 Lucas (46 Hobbs, 89), 12 Aurelio (6 Riise, 69), 17 Arbeloa, 11 Benayoun, 22 Sissoko, 33 Leto, 15 Crouch (8 Gerrard, 77), 9 Torres
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 35 Putterill
Goals: Benayoun 23, Torres 50, 72, 86
Bookings: Lucas 70

Stats: (Reading – Liverpool)
Possession: 52% – 48%
Shots on target: 6 – 5
Shots off target: 2 – 4
Corners: 7 – 3
Fouls: 14 – 15

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 23,563


Rafa Benitez was delighted with and for hat-trick hero Fernando Torres: “It was a great night for Fernando. He had a lot of space and he killed their defenders with his pace and movement. The understanding between him and Crouch was very good and I thought it was a fantastic team performance. It was a difficult game because Reading tried to play football and they play with a great passion.”

Rafa was asked why Torres was chosen to play this game when he has been left on the bench for the more important league fixtures of late: “This was a very different game to last Saturday, it is about space.” Would he start the next game, this weekend’s clash with Wigan? “We will see. I cannot guarantee anything because I like to see my strikers during the week. We have four strikers and if I say now that he will play, it will be easy for Wigan. I am only thinking about my team. Our supporters are very clever, they know that I am trying to do the best for the team.”

So was Torres unhappy at not being in the team for those recent league games? Not according to Rafa: “Fernando knows why he was left out. It was because of space. I didn’t need to explain it too much. All the players want to play in every game. If you say to me that Dirk Kuyt is a worse striker or Peter Crouch is a worse striker or Andriy Voronin is a worse striker then I would play Torres every game, but because we have very good strikers, I like to choose the strikers for every game and if it is necessary to change I will change.”

He continued: “I am thinking about the best for my team. I think it was a terrific game for Fernando. But the team worked really hard and it was a very difficult game. We knew it could be like that but with the space, Fernando is really dangerous, but the rest of the team showed real character as well as Fernando. That is the key for me because you can play with one or two strikers working hard but other players not doing their jobs, but every player did a fantastic job.”

Reading’s manager Steve Coppell said £18m Torres was the difference between the two sides: “I thought we had some good opportunities but the difference was obviously £20million. We are disappointed. You want to play against the best players and that’s where you make your reputation by stopping these people playing. For us to come off and he’s scored three, then we are disappointed. With each goal he grew in confidence and became more expressive. For the first 45 minutes he was fairly anonymous. He didn’t contribute much in the first half but that is the quality of £20-odd million. He gives them what they don’t have with other players and that is just raw pace.”

He went on: “A couple of times it wasn’t a question of intricate play, it was just a question of kick it and run and he can run quicker than most. Realistically he is yet to set the world on fire in this division but as he got his goals he grew in stature. We had to take more gambles and that only opened up more avenues for him.”