Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Liverpool Marches Into Champions League

A Perfect Birthday Gift For The Club

Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round

LIVERPOOL 4 - 0 Toulouse
(Liverpool win 5-0 on agg.)

LIV - Crouch (19min), Hyypia (49min), Kuyt (87min, 90min);

Match Highlights:

Uploaded by danyab

Liverpool walloped French side, Toulouse, and advances into the main Champions League competition after a comfortable and comprehensive 4-0 win.

It was a very special night for many Liverpool fans around as they witnessed the team presenting a perfect birthday gift for their beloved club while the sound of 'Z-Cars' ringing over the Anfield tannoys must be the first since Hillsbrough back in 1988.

Family members of the murdered Rhys Jones, were present for the game, donning in their Blue jersey but it was the tragedy that brought the two clubs together, looking past any differences in allegiance.

With the Z-Cars ringing throughout Anfield, much could be said about the conduct of the Liverpool fans last night, who were supportive and gave a standing ovation despite their bitter rival's theme song playing.

A minute of applause was also observed and that sort of lifted the sombre atmosphere off Anfield.

Even as everyone paid their respect last night, the Liverpool players very well know that they have a task at hand and with last night's display, one could say about their total dominance and control on the game is so thorough that Toulouse just stood absolutely no chance from the first whistle to the last.

Post game statistic shows that Liverpool had a total of 25 shots on goal, not a surprising number as the home side rained shots after shots at the visitor's goal relentlessly. Although there was a period of time when nothing seemed to be going in, Kuyt's persistency and the team's self-belief kept them going all the way till the end.

Peter Crouch got the ball rolling in the 19 minute after some good work down the right from Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt sets him up perfectly with a tap in from the far post. Benayoun's never-say-die attitude contributed much to the goal.

Still without Steven Gerrard in the centre of midfield, Liverpool seemed to lost a bit of drive through the middle after the goal. Fellow scouser, Jamie Carragher, was also missing from the game after he fractured his ribs and could be missing up to a fortnight.

But even without Gerrard, Momo Sissoko stepped up and did extremely well last night, alongside Javier Mascherano, who also put up a good show with some good passes and patrolling the back line diligently.

Then chances constantly fell in Liverpool's path but old problems seemed to surface again as Crouch and Kuyt were both guilty of missing some glaring chances. Crouch seemed to justify himself as the tallest player who can't head the ball when he headed the ball from open position over the bar twice.

But Sami Hyypia, the stand-in captain for the night, came to the rescue and could probably teach the strikers a thing or two on heading when he powered the ball in from Benayoun's out swinging corner.

It was just after half time and you could tell the Toulouse players were already deflated.

Then again, back to the routine. Missing chance after chance and Kuyt was desperately unlucky time and again as he sees his header flashing past the post and shots hitting the crossbar.

Just when you thought it just wasn't going to be the Dutchman's day, another Dutch provided him with the chance to extend the lead late in the game.

Substitute, Ryan Babel, flicked the ball selflessly to him inside the penalty box and Kuyt was able to finish it off from an acute angle. It went in off the post and a huge sigh of relief from the Dutch striker, as he had failed to convert the previous chances. It could've affected his morale and belief a whole lot.

He then doubled his tally on the dot of 90 minutes.

Not only was the predatory skill of Kuyt on display for the third goal, it was also a move that justified the acquisition of Yossi Benayoun. Both worked brilliantly in that goal and it was Benayoun's intricate through pass that send Kuyt clear and was able to finish past the onrushing goalkeeper.

All in all, a very good result yet it still highlighted a few problems such as finishing and complacency at the back. Strikers must learn how to take chances while John Arne Riise looked disinterested at times and a few of his passes went astray.

A night which commemorated the birth of the city of Liverpool. A night which a city as a whole remembered the tragedy that befell on a fellow Liverpudlian. All these are certainly more meaningful than just getting into the Champions League.

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