Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rafa Hails 'Perfect Day'

Kuyt Double Secures Champions League Spot For Next Season

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 2 - 0 Wigan

LIV - Kuyt (30min, 68min);

Match Highlights:

A fine double strike from Dirk Kuyt ensured Liverpool's place in yet another season in Europe's elite football competition, the Champions League, and third place seemed all but secured while nearest rival, Arsenal, stumbled at White Hart Lane.

With the semi finals just over 3 days away, Rafa Benitez's men are in here to find a morale booster ahead of the match at Stamford Bridge and the Dutchman duly obliged with two goals that beat a deflated Wigan side.

A shadow of their former self compared to the Wigan last season, they came to Anfield knowing that all they could do is to limit the damage that will be inflicted upon on them by the men in red.

Dragged mercilessly into the mire of relegation, Wigan tried all they could to keep the score down and didn't really have the intention to get anything out of Anfield although they did have a golden chance to equalise in the second half. But Reina, who played his 100th game for Liverpool, was all that stood between Wigan's salvation and devastation.

The home side, under the management of Rafa Benitez, are used to changes week in, week out regarding the starting line up and this game isn't an exception. Biggest surprise is captain, Steven Gerrard, was left on the bench and missed his first league game this season. Zenden was his replacement in the middle of the park.

Perhaps with some thoughts on the match ahead at Chelsea, Rafa rested some other key players and with the lead comfortable at two late in the second half, he even took off Jamie Carragher and gave him a rest.

Dirk Kuyt got Liverpool in the lead at the half hour mark after a brilliant Jermaine Pennant cross was met with his head. Wigan goalkeeper, John Filan, committed himself but missed the ball completely and all the striker needed to do was to stick the ball into the back of the empty net.

But with Liverpool being their usual efficient and cautious style, were not pressing Wigan hard and showed little urgency. With Rafa's preaching of effectiveness, focus and caution, Liverpool didn't throw everything in and you'll expect them to save some energy for the more important game in midweek.

Chances were presented to Liverpool on a couple of occasions in the second half but they were unable to finish it. Gonzalez had a pot shot on goal saved and then Dirk Kuyt fired just wide.

But the Dutch striker didn't take long before he added a second. With the introduction of Craig Bellamy into the front line, Liverpool looked more lively and Rafa injected pace into the attack, which was up against an aging Arjan de Zueew.

Bellamy's down the left was supported by Riise, who then intricately flicked the ball back into the path of Bellamy. Matt Jackson did well to intercept the ball but it fell kindly to Kuyt, who turned the experience De Zueew before slotting it into the bottom corner.

He could've had his hat trick if only he met with Gonzalez's cross with more power right at the 90 minute mark.

But it was marked as a perfect day by Rafa Benitez, who thought that it was an efficient and professional performance from Liverpool. It has become such a practice by the team in red in recent times that they looked like a machine.

Performance wise, just like a machine, you'd expect nothing more and nothing less. Although it could've been better and they could've taken advantage of the home ground and imposed themselves more.

But two goals was enough to see out the continue struggle for the Champions League spot and as Rafa mentioned, they could now focus on the semi finals and prepare without having to worry about the domestic front.

Now, bring on Chelsea!

For more goals and highlights, visit !


Juan LFC said...

It was a great game. And Chelsea played today very bad. We´ve got a chance. We are in a great fit. Come on reds!

psychohare said...

chelski are one day less fit than us, although we have to travel to London.
im pretty sure we have a good chance. Kuyt and Crouch are in scoring form. Gerrard has returned to form as well, Mash-potato has proven himself to be worthy of a first team position. Our defense should be fresh from recent squad rotations. Pennant is making confident runs and crosses.
It could be better, but we're doing good.
Drogba even stated a while ago in an interview saying that Kuyt is a great example of strikers coming in and adapting really quick and playing well for the team. Even the EPL's best striker has his eyes on our man, that says something about him.

J said...

what's with the double goals?! no one is satisfied with just one~! they want TWO! not that i'm complaining XD
the more the ebtter! =D esp against chelsea next!

we shall have to wait and see.. meanwhile we can HOPE! =D