Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday will live long in Daniel Agger’s memory, despite the modest way the young Dane played down his wonder goal. He told Sky after the game: “I can’t remember it.” The strike brough Liverpool level after they’d fallen behind to a freak goal earlier in the half, but Agger said it doesn’t matter how they go in or who scores: “A goal is a goal, the most important thing is the win. It doesn’t matter who scores the goals.”
The winner was scored right on half time by Peter Crouch, who got a great ovation as the left the pitch. His replacement got an even better ovation as the Anfield faithful welcomed him to the club. Dirk Kuyt couldn’t score on his debut, but impressed all who saw him. He was quite happy himself too: “It was wonderful to make my debut at Anfield. It feels great but the win is the most important thing. We had the better chances – for me Bellamy was not offside, it was a goal, so I think we deserved to win. We have a wonderful squad, not 11 good players but 20. We are getting better and better, but we’re not at the 100% level yet and you have to work hard to beat teams like Chelsea.”
Liverpool’s manager Rafael Benitez was happy enough too: “It was good to win and also to see the new players playing well, creating chances. It was a good game for the supporters.” Pepe Reina might get some stick from the press and some fans for his part in Zamora’s flukish goal, but not from Rafa: “We were playing well, controlling the game and they we conceded the goal. I need to see it, it’s difficult sometimes reaching for a cross. I’ll look at it on television and then maybe say something more. In the end it was a good win.” To be fair to Zamora, he says it was an attempt on goal and not a cross.
Rafa praised both Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch for their roles in the win, and will be left with a problem now in terms of who to pick when: “Dirk worked hard and created a lot of chances and Crouch was the same. I like to have these problems. As a manager you prefer to have these problems.”
If there is one thing Rafa has repeated time and again, Liverpool really have to start killing games earlier rather than being in a vulnerable position throughout a game: “That was a difficult game against a good side. What we must be able to do is to kill teams off with a third goal in that situation. They came forward, we knew they would attack us because that is their style, and I said we would get chances. But when you do not take them things get very nervous at the end.”
Rafa’s opposite number, Alan Pardew, had mixed feelings about the game – happy with the way his team performed and disappointed that the performance didn’t bring them any points: “I’ve got to reflect on the whole performance. We’ve come here against one of the real contenders for the title, given a real good account of ourselves and yet we have come away with nothing. We still created those moments and feel aggrieved we haven’t come away with anything.”