Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Real, Then United

Manchester United 1 (Ronaldo pen 23);
Liverpool 4 (Torres 28, Gerrard pen 44, Aurelio 77, Dossena 90);

“This has to be the best week since 2001”, harped Sami Hyypia, the veteran Liverpool defender who was hailed as one of the heroes at the Theatre of Dreams (or Nightmare, depending on which side you support).

The Finnish defender put the 4-1 win over Man Utd and 4-0 over Real on par with Liverpool’s 2001 Treble season where they won the League Cup, FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.

It was a whirlwind week for Rafa Benitez’s Reds as they scored 8 goals in 2 games. Seems like no big deal but it was against the might of Real Madrid and the champions of Europe and the world (depending if you believe the Club World Championship is an accurate portrayal or not), Man Utd.

As a Liverpool fan, it was to my dismay that I missed out (I had to watch a replay) on probably the result of the decade. I love to see Liverpool dominating in Europe, which has became a norm. But to see us so comprehensively defeat Man Utd at their backyard is something else.

It was Rafa Benitez’s 100th win and how sweet it must’ve been to gain it at Old Trafford. The manager’s call for respect came with two huge results. I would go on my knees now and beg the Liverpool owners to make him sign the contract. There’s no other manager I would want at helm.

He too, proved that his theory right. He mentioned about the fact that if Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres started more games together, Liverpool would’ve been even closer to United than they are now.

The dynamic partnership was formed last season and it was definitely fruitful thus far. It was as if they’re match-made in heaven. All credit to Benitez, whom dovetailed them into one of the most potent strike force in the football world. The annihilation at Old Trafford was the byproduct of it all.

The duo gave a master-class performance and showed the world that the 4-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday was no fluke. It wasn’t a one-off performance.

What they did to former World Player of the Year, Fabio Cannavaro, and Portugese defender, Pepe, they inflicted it on Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand as well.

For Torres, a seemingly frail figure, it is beyond imagination that he outpaced and out-muscled Vidic with such ease. The boy is on fire. He tormented the acclaimed ‘best defender in the Premiership’ to the point that the Serbian thought that an early shower was the best way to exit the match (He was sent off).

And what a celebration too, for the Spanish striker. Raising up 5 fingers, a reminisce of Robbie Fowler’s taunt at United fans during his time at Man Citeh.

For Steven Gerrard, it’s probably more personal. For all the disappointments at Old Trafford and seeing them almost equaling his beloved team’s English league title record, he yearns to see his team be over and above their rivals.

Indeed, he showed his desire when he led by example and was nerveless when he dispatched his penalty with ease. The large frame of van der Saar and the barisan crowd in Old Trafford didn’t put him off.

Pre-match, Wayne Rooney stoked fire the proportion of the Australian forest fire by stating how much he hated Liverpool. Well, that came as a surprise. Nobody saw that coming from a Evertonian Scouser (Sense my sarcasm).

How much it must have amused the Reds as they saw him throwing tantrums and hands on his head on more than one occasion. The camera never fails to pan his direction after each of the 4 goals.

Yet we should continue to focus on Liverpool. After the heroics of Gerrard and Torres were followed up the up and rising of two unlikely heroes.

Fabio Aurelio, so often named a sicknote, put on a fabulous performance in continuation of his midweek contributions. He’s pretty injury prone but one could see his ability once he is able to consistently feature in the side and how important he is to Rafa’s plan.

With Vidic sent off with a rugby tackle, Aurelio was given a chance to further punish United. And he did with his wonderful left foot. It arced above the wall and whistled into van der Saar’s net. The Dutch goalkeeper totally rooted to the spot.

Just when you thought 3-1 was an exceptional result, Andrea Dossena puts the icing on the most magnificent cake any Liverpool fan could’ve imagined with a fourth, right on the 90th minute mark.

Once again, a long ball was not dealt with and all the Italian defender needed was a touch before the ball was lobbed over van der Saar (rooted again) and into an empty net. He definitely didn’t impress anyone with his performances all season, considering he cost 7 million pounds. But in the last two matches, he probably has attained a cult hero status at Anfield.

‘Robbie Keane who? We have Dossena!’ - One of the fans said with delight.

Indeed it seems like a dream. The results have definitely given Liverpool a breath of life and a dose of confidence. It didn’t, of course, blow the title race wide open in any account but Liverpool and Chelsea must’ve sensed blood. United is still with a game in hand and 4 points ahead.

Barring a catastrophic and calamitous self-destruction of United, the title is still theirs to lose. But the 4-1 result must have been like a mortal wound inflicted and doubts of their invincibility must have crept in.

Now, we’ll have to see how Alex Ferguson’s men react to it. Will they come out stronger like before or would they shun away responsibilities like how Ferguson dodged BBC/Sky Sports reporters after the defeat?

Whatever it is, the result definitely brought about a breath of fresh air into the Premiership. This could go down the wire!

We might not win it this season but I feel that we’re much closer now and this season could very well be a springboard for next season, where I feel a few players of the right caliber could bring us to higher level.

1 comment:

SEP said...

IT's a Nightmare!

The Reds are cruising at the moment.

But I believe their luck should run out against Villa this weekend.