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Friday, 9 April 2010
LIVERPOOL 4-1 BENFICA
Another massive european night at Anfield with the crowd producing the now famous "12th man" . Up against it after the 2-1 defeat in Lisbon this was always going to be tough for Liverpool especially against a Benfica side that couldn't remember the last time they had tasted defeat because it was twenty odd games ago. You just felt it was going to be another special european night at Anfield .
Personally I thought Rafa's team was too defensive with Liverpool having to score to progress, but how wrong could I be, Rafa got his team and tactics spot on for this one.
Left back was going to be a problem area with Insua and Aurelio unavailable for different reasons, but with Agger moving over to the left side there was never a problem. Also with Babel and Maxi unavailable it gave problems selecting wide midfielders, but I was pleased to see Kuyt moving back out wide and very pleased to see Benayoun getting a game as I think he has been sorely missed recently.
I felt Benfica started the game very well and Liverpool didn't see much of the ball and had to chase a lot of shadows early on and be careful of not losing an early goal with Benfica looking dangerous, but to be fair I felt Liverpool defended well at this time and never really gave Benfica a real clear cut opening, then Liverpool gradually came into the game and on the twenty six minute mark they made the breakthrough with just about their first chance of the game.
The goal was a carbon copy of the goal against Everton not so long ago with Gerrard taking the corner and puting it right on Kuyt's head who diverted past Cesar the Benfica keeper , controversially the linesman put his flag up for offside which was ridiculous as you can't be offside from a corner, for an alarming moment it looked as though the goal would be dissallowed but thankfully the referee new the rules and gave the goal bringing a huge sigh of relief from the Anfield crowd.
Then within in a couple of minutes Liverpool made it two with a great move resulting in a defence splitting pass from Gerrard sending Lucas clean through with only the keeper to beat and he did just that in a confident manner that Torres would have been proud of in the way that he went round Cesar before flicking the ball into the empty net. They game flowed from end to end until half-time.
The second half was played out in a similar way to the first half with Benfica having more of the play and Liverpool trying to hit Benfica on the counter attack and they did just that on round about the hour mark when Liverpool broke from their own penalty box and with Benayoun darting into the Benfica half he passed the ball out wide to Kuyt who played a great first time cross right across the face of the six yard box which Torres fired into the net making it three nil and seemingly making this tie over, but then the game became a bit nervy when Benfica were rewarded a free-kick just outside the box and from the resulting free-kick Cardozo fired the ball right through the Liverpool defensive wall and into the net leaving Reina with no chance, this left Benfica just needing one more goal to go through and you could sense the tension in the crowd. Liverpool survived a couple of scares with another Cardozo free-kick going close when his shot hit the wall and deflected about a yard wide of Reina's post and from the resulting corner a Benfica's header just flashed wide of the far post. This was the closest Benfica came and with eight minutes remaining Torres finished the match when Mascherano sent him clear and Torres provided a sublime chip over the onrushing Cesar and into the net. The last few minutes were played out in comfort of knowing the outcome.
I thought this was a tremendous performance against a very good Benfica side who are very dangerous. I thought Liverpool defended very well as a team, with the whole defence playing superbly and Liverpool were brilliant on the counter attack with the third goal proving that. Mascherano and Lucas protected the defence superbly and with Benayoun making those darting runs and Kuyt with his amazing work ethic, Gerrard with those dangerous crosses and incisive passes and Torres with the clinical finishing the whole team complimented each other superbly. Great performance.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kuyt - he covered every blade of grass and produced some good deliveries from the right his best being the cross for the third goal and he scored the all important first goal .
Posted by james walker at 12:05