Result and reaction: Liverpool 4 Portsmouth 1

Barclays Premier League – December 22nd 2007 – Result

Liverpool 4 Portsmouth 1

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
“First of all it was a great performance from the team. In the first half we were really good. We started really well and were creating chances and scoring goals. We were a little nervous when Portsmouth scored their goal and we needed the third goal. Torres provided that for us. You know Torres is always a threat when he runs in behind defenders. He has a very good mentality and he has no problem with the physical aspect of the Premier League. He showed his quality and his pace.

“It was important to win this game and there is a long way to go in the title race.”

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp: “We can’t afford to give away the goals that we did. We didn’t play very well in the first half but then we got ourselves back in the game. We then went and conceded two poor goals – it was bad defending.

“When we brought it back to 2-1, I thought there was something in the game. They were comfortable but when we scored it could have been dangerous for them. I said at half time that the next goal was all important. I thought ‘hang on’, we can get something here but then we conceded a poor goal out of nothing.

“It doesn’t help when the pitches are frozen and we can’t go out and train. (Portsmouth’s training ground was unavailable in the lead-up to the game due to the weather). We had a jog around with the fitness coach and then had to come in because we couldn’t train on that surface. I had a meeting before the game about how we should play but I think you need to be able to tell the players that on the training ground, but we can’t use that as an excuse.

“They’re a top team and would beat us at Anfield more times than we would beat them. Torres was fantastic but they’ve got so many good players. They’re a top four team and they will be again this year. Today was a big test but we’ll go back to the drawing board – and we’ve got an easy game on Wednesday against Arsenal!”

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun (19 Babel, 64), 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 7 Kewell (12 Aurelio, 76), 9 Torres (21 Lucas, 86), 18 Kuyt
Subs unused: 30 Itandje, 10 Voronin
Bookings: Arbeloa 45
Goals: Benayoun 13, Distin (og) 16, Torres 67, 85

Portsmouth: 1 James, 5 Johnson (4 Lauren, 45), 23 Campbell, 15 Distin, 7 Hreidarsson, 17 Utaka (27 Kanu, 45), 8 Diop, 30 Pedro Mendes, 11 Muntari (14 Taylor, 73), 19 Kranjcar, 25 Benjani
Subs unused: 31 Begovic, 10 Nugent
Bookings: Diop 21, Hreidarsson 34
Goals: Benjani 57

Stats: (Liverpool – Portsmouth)
Possession: 52% – 48%
Shots on target: 7 – 3
Shots off target: 8 – 6
Corners: 3 – 1
Fouls: 14 – 11

Referee: Mike Riley

Attendance: 43,071