Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rafa 'Sticks Three Up' The Critics As Reds Advance To The Last 16

UEFA Champions League Group C

LIVERPOOL 3 - 0 Bordeaux


LIV - Luis Garcia (23min, 76min), Gerrard (71min)

(Stevie breaking his scoring duck)

1-0 Luis Garcia; 23min:

2-0 Gerrard; 71min:

3-0 Luis Garcia; 76min:

Liverpool became the first British team to advance into the Champions League knock-out round after they cruised past French side Bordeaux at Anfield last night. Following the magnificent 3-1 win over Aston Villa over the weekends, Rafael Benitez surprised everyone including me, by naming a totally unchanged side. It was such a brilliant move that you could point out that this single move could equate to 'one stone killing three birds'.

Firstly, this plan to name a unchanged side must have taken the national printing press and tabloids aback. I'm very sure that even before the game had begun, they have already prepared a '100 GAMES WITHOUT A SETTLED SIDE' headline that is ready to be placed once the game is finished. This move must have made them feel silly and to shut those people up. They have banged on how Rafa constantly changing the squad without looking from another perspective and these lazy journalist have been found out by a wonderfully foiled plan.

Next, a egg on face situation for the just departed Noel White. If you're not aware, this man is the board member who went to the press and spout a whole lot of bollocks. He claimed Rafa 'spent too much money on limited players' and 'doesn't know what his best team is'. So by naming an unchanged side, Rafa is effectively sending a word that 'hey dude, I know what I'm doing and I know what my best team is'. Oh by the way, he had resigned from the Liverpool board and this obnoxious man will no longer be part of the Reds.

Finally, after so much talk of us being a better team than last season, there is no stronger evidence to that statement than last night's performance. It wasn't as pretty as the one we had against Aston Villa, but it was effective and again, we did played some fantastic football at times.

(Gerrard celebrating with Kuyt)

I was most pleased to see Steven Gerrard finally getting on the scoresheet. He has been really unlucky so far this season with a few close shaves and many other which have hit the framework of the goal. The captain of Liverpool, who's last goal was against West Ham in that dramatic FA Cup final was again presented with several chances throughout the matches and when everyone thought that it was just not his day, he ran clear of the Bordeaux defence and place the ball past Ulrich Reme. It wasn't the best of finish, but with a huge sigh of relieve, the ball went in and the Kop roared as the captain punched the air with delight.

And of course his contribution was much more than just a goal. His cross from the right found Luis Garcia at the backpost and the enigmatic Spaniard smashes the ball past Reme for Liverpool's first goal. It was a well worked move with Dirk Kuyt heavily involved.

People have again and again doubted Gerrard's ability to play as a right winger and once again, he and Rafa made those people eat humble pie. His ability to drift inwards and influence the game was for all to see and thoe powerful marauding runs he made terrified the Bordeaux defence. Not only did he excelled there last night, but later he played as a support striker behind Kuyt and also as a central holding midfielder in which he sprays ball around just like what Alonso always did.

Luis Garcia topped the icing on the cake with a brilliant steal and a composed finish. The Spanish striker who has been criticised lately started to find some feet last week, scoring against Aston Villa and last night, he showed us why he's fit to wear the red shirt. His 10th goal in 17 Champions League game tells us how important he is to Liverpool and he will now pose serious threat to Gonzalez/Aurelio/Kewell's place on the left.

(Markus Merk sent Fernando off)

But game was marred with an ugly incident which saw Bordeuax midfielder, Fernando sent off. In a heat of matter, he headbutted John Arne Riise and was spotted by the TV crew. Replay showed he did make some contact with Riise, who was hurt on his forehead.

(Riise's sweat and bleeds for Liverpool)

That sending off completely washed out the Bordeaux team as they faded out and lost the fighting spirit. After being on the back foot for majority of the first half, they came out for the second half stronger and nearly equalised on several occasions. But other than the one on one with Reina, they didn't really threaten much other than trying their luck from long range. The defence consisting of Hyypia and Carragher made some vital blocks and interceptions and their performance seemed to have improved tremendously.

A great win for the Reds as we marched into the last 16 of the Champions League and not only the victory was sweet, revenge and justice for Rafa was done as well, in a single night. The night we shut the critics up. The night we proved them wrong. The night we surprised everyone and got the result in the end. Brilliant move Rafa, I'm looking forward to the next match already.



Elia said...

Hooray Stevie got a goal.Funny thing is I missed most of the game,but soon as I tuned in a minute later Stevie scored,good timing I guess.Im probbly wrong for saying this,but I noticed Garcia's head stays down when he goes for goal on a break away or something.I thought he should've past it to Kuyt in the middle,but he did have someone on him,so maybe not.Same thing last game he had Crouch in the middle for a tap in,but went for goal instead.He did get the goal on both occasions,but I just hope it does'nt backfire in the future and people will question why he didn't cross it.anyways my 2 cents


Hafiz said...

"It's only a loan, it's only a loan, at Ancient Greece it's coming back home"



Perhaps he is confident with sticking the ball in himself without help. ;)

Emma said...

Nice comeback from Stevie G.

I was watching the Chelsea game, though.

I know! I suck.

Ace Cowboy said...

You're right that Gerrard didn't put on the best of finishes...but if someone deserves it this season, it's him. He's caught the woodwork way too many times this year not to get that break.

I'm enjoying the Kuyt/Crouch line up front -- I really expected so much more out of Bellamy this season after watching him look unflappable at Blackburn. I'm still expecting bigger production, and of course he's gonna get plenty of starting opportunities as the season and Champions League rolls along, but I like what Kuyt is doin' out there and Crouch has been the only striker who can consistently find the net.

Is Agger fully fit? I'd love to see him get back in the lineup.


Yea and a few that he should've put it away. Perhaps the pressure was getting onto him so now he will have no excuse I guess.

Bellamy to me is going to be a hit or miss. He's a good striker with pace to burn but is too injury prone. Kuyt is still pretty inexperience at European level but doing very well in England. Glad for him, 'cause he gives his everything every game and I like the looks of him (not literally!).

Agger is fit I think. Just that the defence is a unit where consistency is important. Perhaps sticking Hyypia with Carragher, they will stabilise and regain the form they once had last season.


oh I mean he will not have excuse for missing anymore. Haha typo!

RedsMan said...

Good for Gerrard because his form had prevented him from putting away other chances. He had two superb chances to score and fluffed them and the goal was deserved, particularly following a subline Zenden ball of whom some LFC fans think the days are numbered. I think Zenden can still provide for us, hopefully similar to Smicer in the CL final!


RedsMan said...

And Fernando Menegazzo (sp.?) and the head-butt. He commits it then makes out as if he is hurt and either he had hardly touched Riise or Riise had touched him! Blood pouring from the contact, it was so clear he had to go I was surprised he then went on to shake his head at the decision! Thuggery!