Wednesday, April 04, 2007

When Rafa Says 'Perfect'

Three & Easy For Liverpool

UEFA Champions League
Quarter Finals 1st Leg

PSV Eindhoven 0 - 3 LIVERPOOL

LIV - Gerrard (27min), Riise (49min), Crouch (63min);

Match Highlights:

Liverpool made a giant stride towards their 6th European title after an emphatic 3-0 win over Dutch champions, PSV Eindhoven.

Did I say emphatic?

It was emphatic yet all too easy for the men in yellow as they put up with an effective and professional performance and finished off their opponents off easily, clinical as it is.

After the 4-1 routing of Arsenal on Saturday, Liverpool went into this game full of confidence while PSV isn't having the best of time in the Dutch League. Looking so indifferent without their key players, Alex and Aruna Kone, PSV suffered from being too negative and were royally punished by Rafa Benitez's men.

On the sour note, Fabio Aurelio had to be stretched off after what they believe as a ruptured archilles tendon and just when the Brazilian starts to find his way into his first team, injury didn't help him. But he has a reputation for being a regular visitor to the medical team and Rafa knows that well. In his 4 seasons at Valencia, he only started 40.

His team mates, meanwhile, didn't disappoint with their performances. It was a great team effort and Rafa, once again, showed that he's one of the best tactician in Europe currently, coming up with a plan that even Ronald Koeman had no answer to.

Perhaps, you could see it as another revenge mission as the Dutchman engineered Benfica's win over Liverpool last season. But being oh so close to the final, Liverpool was unfazed by the prospect. They went, they saw and they conquered.

The match started off just as expected and finished off just as expected. Both team were extremely cautious and one would certainly be hypnotised by the number of passes between Agger and Carragher in the first half. Waking up at 2.30am in the morning didn't help.

But when it all happen, it was so fast that PSV didn't know what hit them.

Steven Gerrard, despite being played out on the right, was found right in the thick of things within the penalty area after a well worked right wing attack from Steve Finnan and Javier Mascherano. Finnan's cross was perhaps meant for Kuyt but Gerrard went in for the kill instead.

It was like a training ground goal. Fast, well executed and clinical.

Perhaps knowing that conceding the one goal was enough to kill off the tie, PSV went into self destructing mode and you could tell from the body language that they've given up already. But what else could you expect when all they muster were a few stray long range strikes and maybe one particularly dangerous cross from former Liverpool man, Jan Kromkamp, that jerked Liverpool back to life.

They were depleted, demoralised and were totally uninterested.

Maybe that's what Rafa's plan was, to wait for the prey, study it, go in for a deadly hit and then watch it slowly dies.

Riise hit the second blow and my word, what a hit. He finished it with aplomb when half the PSV defenders went into snooze mode. Even the highly rated goalkeeper, Gomes, couldn't stop it. Filing bankruptcy against him might make us question his ability to invest his money but never in doubt were his ability to hit shots at such pace, power and deadly accuracy.

Timmy Simmons was the culprit as he needlessly presented the ball for the Norwegian to smash home. You could see the expressions on their faces and they know it isn't over yet.

Because truly, it isn't over yet at the moment. With Peter Crouch extending the scoreline and putting the result to the bed, we could still testify that 3 goals is never enough. Remember Istanbul?

I'd expect a professional approach to the second leg and let's treat them with a level of respect. We might score another 2 or 3 in the second leg but at least show that we're in serious business. Dirk Kuyt might beg to differ as he got himself booked perhaps, with a purpose to miss the second leg and made available for the semi finals but still, no trace complacency should be found.

Truly, it was a poor and abhorent PSV that turned up last night. They didn't seemed to have a game plan other than keeping a clean sheet and see what happens at Anfield. Ronald Koeman was stumped while his men crumbled.

Perhaps it's a curse that Liverpool put on the teams they meet in the Champions League. The teams they're supposed to meet seemed to be going through tough times and it's always Liverpool who go in for the kill at the right time.

But what a performance from them. It made an European away game looked so easy and made the quarter finals looked like a regular pre-season friendly. If they manage to bring this sort of form into the Premiership, they'll be feared.

For goals and highlights, head over to for more!



TLR said...

One thing that has really impressed me of late and that is Crouch's heading power.

While we all know he has great feet and can hold the ball up with the best of them, his headers have always been quite poor considering his size.

But of recent, he has found power and placement with his headers and that makes him all the more dangerous. It's great to watch.

Feel bad for Aurelio, from experience, he won't be back this year at all.

Hopefully Harry can get back and show some of the form he showed in the last half of last season.

Ace Cowboy said...

That picture of the Gangly Handful in mid-jump is f*cking awesome!

How well did Liverpool fans sleep last night?!


tlr: Yea, maybe he had some heading training from Hyypia or someone. Nose job or not, his heading certainly improved a great deal and that's fantastic news.

ace: hey there, very nice sleep last night :D

uneditedmara said...

"Filing bankruptcy against him might make us question his ability to invest his money but never in doubt were his ability to hit shots at such pace, power and deadly accuracy." Me heart Riise.