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.”

Carling Cup teams: Reading v Liverpool

Liverpool’s manager Rafael Benitez has recognised the strength of opposition side Reading and picked a relatively strong side for tonight’s Carling Cup tie at the Madjeski Stadium.

In defence the manager has given Sami Hyypia a rest, with ever-present Alvaro Arbeloa switching to centre-back from full-back, and Fabio Aurelio has been named for his first start since returning from injury. Carragher and Finnan take the other two places in the back four, with Charles Itandje making his debut in goal in place of the rested Pepe Reina.

Midfield sees a chance handed to new youngsters Lucas and Leto, with Sissoko and Benayoun also lining up. The surprise is up front, with £18m Fernando Torres linining up alongside Peter Crouch.

The tie will be decided tonight, on penalties if needed, as there are no replays in the Carling Cup these days.

Reading: 32 Federici, 14 Halls, 29 Duberry, 22 Bikey, 3 Shorey, 23 De la Cruz, 15 Harper, 17 Convey, 20 Fae, 24 Long, 8 Lita
Subs: 1 Hahnemann, 4 Cisse, 10 Hunt, 12 Kitson, 34 Henry

Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 17 Arbeloa, 12 Aurelio, 33 Leto, 22 Sissoko, 21 Lucas, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 9 Torres
Subs: 40 Martin, 6 Riise, 8 Gerrard, 46 Hobbs, 35 Putterill

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Rafa yet again has to defend his team selection

Liverpool’s failure to get maximum points against Birmingham at Anfield yesterday fuelled the obsession with Rafa Benítez’s rotation policy. A still unbeaten Liverpool side have lost momentum in the battle to be title contenders this season, but a look at the league table shows that Liverpool are still in fourth place, having played just six games – one less than the two Manchester sides above them.

As frustrating as Rafa’s rotation policy can be, it’s a little early to be writing the season off yet. And it’s a fairly futile pastime to try and persuade Rafa to give up on his long-term policy of changing his teams. Fernando Torres was a surprise member of Liverpool’s bench yesterday, but Rafa says he had his reasons for leaving the £18m man on the sidelines for an hour: “I have four strikers.  I played them all in the end. I felt that Andriy Voronin and Dirk Kuyt were the type of striker I would have needed to work hard against a packed defence. I did not start with Torres because we knew Birmingham would be deep, denying space and very compact.” Continue reading Rafa yet again has to defend his team selection

Prem result: Liverpool 0 Birmingham 0

Barclays Premier League, September 22nd 2007

Liverpool 0 Birmingham 0

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher, 6 Riise, 16 Pennant (3 Finnan, 87), 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel (9 Torres, 60), 18 Kuyt, 10 Voronin (15 Crouch, 74)
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 22 Sissoko

Birmingham: 1 Taylor, 2 Kelly, 16 Djourou, 6 Ridgewell, 15 Queudrue, 7 Larsson, 28 Palacios (8 O’Connor, 68), 12 Nafti, 29 Melendez (11 McSheffrey, 13), 23 Kapo, 10 Jerome (5 Schmitz, 80)
Unused subs: 18 Kingson, 9 Forssell
Bookings: Ridgewell 64, McSheffrey 69

Stats: (Liverpool – Birmingham)
Possession: 56% – 44%
Shots on target: 4 – 2
Shots off target: 15 – 4
Corners: 11 – 2
Fouls: 3 – 10

Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 44,215

Double injury blow for Reds

Liverpool FC’s new TV channel launches this evening, and one of the first items to be reported on the daily news bulletin will be a double injury blow for Rafa Benitez. Two of his most important players have been hit by the infamous metatarsal injury. Defender Daniel Agger and midfielder Xabi Alonso both missed out on the Champions League draw with Porto on Tuesday after feeling pain, and scans back home confirmed that they had both broken bones in their feet.

The LFC head of press Ian Cotton said: “Neither player will require surgery but we expect them to be out of action for between four and six weeks. Xabi Alonso has suffered a stress fracture to the 4th metatarsal in his left foot and Daniel Agger has suffered a stress fracture to the 2nd metatarsal in his right foot.” Continue reading Double injury blow for Reds

CL: Porto 1 Liverpool 1

UEFA Champions League, Group A. September 19 2007

Porto 1 Liverpool 1

Porto: 33 Nuno, 2 Bruno Alves, 6 Paulo Assuncao, 7 Quaresma, 8 Gonzalez, 9 Lopez, 12 Bosingwa, 13 Fucile, 14 Joao Paulo, 16 Raul Meireles (19 Farias, 64), 17 Sektioui (11 Gonzalez, 64)
Unused subs: 24 Ventura, 4 Stepanov, 5 Cech, 18 Bolatti, 25 Kazmierczak
Bookings: Bosingwa 9
Goal: Gonzalez 8 (pen)

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 4 Hyypia, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 16 Pennant, 20 Mascherano, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel (12 Aurelio, 85), 9 Torres (10 Voronin, 76), 18 Kuyt
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 5 Agger, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 21 Lucas
Pennant 26, Torres 73, Kuyt 75, Mascherano 90
Sent off: Pennant 58
Goal: Kuyt 17

Stats: (Porto – Liverpool)
Possession: 50% – 50%
Shots on target: 3 – 2
Shots off target: 5 – 0
Corners: 11 – 1
Fouls: 14 – 21

Referee: Lubos Michel
Attendance: 41,208


Reds boss Rafa Benitez: “We were really very bad in that first half, there are no excuses. We gave the ball away too easily and made too many mistakes. But the second half was much better. We needed to show real character and that is what we achieved: We were more organised, there was an excellent workrate and there were positives to be drawn from the second-half performance. We were playing against a good side and we have no complaints about the result.

“I have no complaints about the (red card) decision. It was correct. Hopefully Jermaine will learn from this experience. Maybe it will produce something positive for the future, the tackle in that position was just not needed. It is difficult to understand why he did it, we had talked to him about staying on his feet and not making rash challenges – we were even talking on the bench about taking him off, but we just did not get the time to do it.

“We started very, very badly and it is hard to explain why because our build-up and preparation had been good. It was easier to do the right things in the second period, but the damage had been done. We gave the ball away far too easily, we conceded clear chances and gave away a penalty that was also a correct decision.”

Liverpool scorer Dirk Kuyt: “He (Pennant) was unlucky. He tried to do his best and maybe it was a bit too much, but we were pleased because we played 30 minutes with 10 men. We didn’t play well in the first half and I felt unlucky with the red card.

“In that first half we had problems passing. We tried to do it better in the second period and we worked really hard. With a bit of luck we could have won, but Porto are a really strong team and at least we didn’t lose. If we can beat them at home we will be okay in this group.”

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira: “We were the superior side right throughout the game. It was difficult to play against 10 men when they had a man sent off. Even then it was very difficult against a side of Liverpool’s quality.

“Beforehand we would have looked at the game and said a draw would have been acceptable. But when we look back at the match we will know that we should have won. If you look at the game as a whole we just could not break down their defence, they were tough at the back and even with just 10 men they were quick and strong against us and we ran out of ideas.”

Result and reaction: Portsmouth 0 Liverpool 0

Barclays Premiership September 15th 2007 – Result

Portsmouth 0 Liverpool 0

Portsmouth: 1 James, 5 Johnson, 23 Campbell, 15 Distin, 7 Hreidarsson, 17 Utaka, 28 Davis, 8 Diop, 11 Muntari, 25 Mwaruwari (19 Kranjcar, 67), 27 Kanu
Unused Subs: 21 Ashdown, 10 Nugent, 14 Taylor, 16 Pamarot
Bookings: Diop 29, Johnson 64, Davis 90

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 5 Agger, 17 Arbeloa, 16 Pennant (8 Gerrard, 67), 22 Sissoko, 14 Alonso (19 Babel, 77), 11 Benayoun, 10 Voronin, 15 Crouch (9 Torres, 62)
Unused Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia
Bookings: Alonso 31, Sissoko 76

Referee: Mike Riley
Attendance: 20,388

Stats: (Portsmouth – Liverpool)
Possession: 49% – 51%
Shots on target: 2 – 6
Shots off target: 8 – 6
Corners: 5 – 4
Fouls: 20 – 14


Rafa Benitez: “After an international break it is very difficult to pick the team because you don’t have any time to train with the players – Mascherano, for example, was in Australia playing in a very important friendly!

“In the first half I thought we were the better team and controlled the game. In the second half it was very open and we both had very good chances. We could have won it, they could have won it. In my opinion we deserved at least a point: They had a couple of clear chances but they were from our mistakes and not from open play. I think we were better than them in the first half and were controlling the game. Our substitutes came on in the second half and helped us, it was just a pity we couldn’t score.

“I’m not sure if it was a penalty for them or not, certainly for this country it looked a harsh decision. But it’s okay, I’m not going to complain about that.”

“When Gerrard and Torres came on we had more creativity in attack than we had before but we had 18 players on international duty around the world last week and I don’t think it would have made any difference if they had started the game.

“I just had to try to pick the fittest and freshest players and we had the better of the game in the first half but then it became more open and they had chances, too.”

Peter Crouch: “A lot of teams will find it very difficult coming to Portsmouth. They are a strong side physically – probably the strongest in the league – but we matched them in that way and maybe a year or two ago we would have lost that game.

“I tried to put myself about, especially with it being my first start in the league, but Sol and Distan are two good centre-halves and it was a difficult test. I think it’s a decent point, even though we’re disappointed not to take away all three.”

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp: “It is up to Rafa what players and teams he picks. He has a lot to choose from. Obviously you are happy as an opposition manager when somebody like Gerrard is not playing against you, but we did well. We’ve had a tough run against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal and got only one point from those. I would be a liar if I said I wouldn’t have taken another point before the kick-off today. You would always settle for that against a top-four team but we could easily have won it. John Utaka’s chance was a very good one and, although I’ve seen penalties not given for the little tug that gave us that one today, Kanu’s penalty was crap. He tried to sidefoot it in and if the goalkeeper guesses the right way he saves it.

“Despite the chances we missed it was a point gained.”

Teams: Portsmouth v Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has picked a side for the game against Portsmouth that reflects his concerns about playing games with early kick-offs so soon after international breaks. Steven Gerrard was used twice by England after being out with a broken toe and so starts on the bench today along with Babel and Torres, with Rafa worried about tiredness. Peter Crouch gets a chance to start a league game and will be hoping to score past former Liverpool keeper David James.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Pennant, Sissoko, Alonso, Benayoun, Crouch, Voronin.
Subs: Itandje, Hyypia, Torres, Gerrard, Babel.

Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Bouba Diop, Davis, Muntari, Benjani, Utaka, Kanu
Subs: Pamarot, Kranjcar, Ashdown, Taylor, Nugent

Internationals: Gerrard gets through England game

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says he got through last night’s England qualifier without the need for any painkilling injections, and that his limping exit twenty minutes from the end was because of nothing more cramp. He’s now set his sights on his country’s all-important qualifier with Russia on Wednesday.

The media have had great delight in making a big deal of Gerrard’s desires to play for England against the wishes of his club manager Rafa Benítez. In reality Rafa is resigned to the fact that England have the rights to do pretty much as they please with Gerrard under FIFA rules and respects his captain’s wishes. The warnings were more of a reminder to England that they had to take care of Gerrard.

England beat Israel – captained by Yossi Benayoun – 3-0 and Gerrard said after the game: “The toe is fine. All I had was a bit of cramp. I haven’t trained much for the last two or three weeks. I will be a lot stronger on Wednesday for getting that 70 minutes in.” Continue reading Internationals: Gerrard gets through England game

LFC.tv channel testing ahead of launch

Liverpool FC’s new TV channel, LFC.tv, recently started test transmissions on digital satellite.

The new channel is set to launch on September 20th at 6.00pm, and will be available in the UK on satellite and cable, as part of various Setanta packages. It will also be available in Ireland to Setanta subscribers. Those fans who pay for the club’s e-season ticket will be able to watch streams of the channel online. Some of the programming from the channel will also be shown on Setanta 1, which is the only way that Freeview viewers will be able to see the channel.

Currently the testing consists of test cards and repeated re-runs of the Reds’ victory at the JJB over Wigan last season. The ‘search and scan banner’ gives an idea of the programmes that will be shown, for example the programme that is showing as scheduled for this Sunday morning is a repeat of the win over Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, followed by ‘Kop 10 Premiership Players’. Continue reading LFC.tv channel testing ahead of launch