I was wrong, and I’m glad to admit it. I’m a little bit surprised that it’s for this game Rafa names his first unchanged side, but a win is a win, and 3-0 certainly is a win.
Garcia opened the scoring with a pretty volley at the back post after a pinpoint cross from Gerrard in the 23rd minute. Liverpool bossed the game for the rest of the half, and despite three good chances in the last 5 minutes, the half ended 1-0.
They almost paid for their profligacy. The visitors came out on fire to start the second. Bordeaux took more shots on goal in the first ten minutes of the half than they did in the rest of the two other games. Reina, who has come under such stick as of late, was the only reason Liverpool kept a clean sheet. It’s as reassuring to see Pepe makes great saves these past two games as it is to see Liverpool score more consistently.
As soon as the game started to settle down, Bordeaux was down to 10 men. The left back, Fernando, headbutted Riise directly in front of the linesman in the 67th minute. It was strange and all too similar to the Zidane incident, with Fernando walking up to JAR away from play and headbutting him in the face, supposedly because Momo Sissoko was tackling too hard. Riise, although bleeding profusely, didn’t hit the floor. Didn’t even flinch. Arjen Robben (yes, I carry grudges that long) would be in hospital until next Friday. One of the many reasons the Kop cheers Riise’s name.
Not long after the sending off, Gerrard put Liverpool 2-0 up, finally opening his season’s scoring account. Typical storming through the defense, running onto Zenden’s pass, and sliding it in. Liverpool’s third, Garcia robbing Jemmali and slotting past the goalkeeper, quickly followed. They were lining up to find the fourth, with Hyypia, Sissoko, and Fowler having chances, but it really was just a matter of time running out the clock.
I have no illusions that this win will quell the mindless prattle over squad rotation. If anything, the media will probably take this as an affirmation of their nattering. ‘Now that Rafa’s named an unchanged side, Liverpool’s come good’ and all that, but they'll be completely wrong. Liverpool is finding its form, evident in the wins at Reading and versus Villa, and the side continued that trend today. Garcia especially has been fantastic lately; a goal and great all-around play against Villa and a brace today. But all of the squad, every single player, is playing better and that’s why Liverpool looks as good as they do.
Hopefully this means that history is repeating itself. It’s the end of October, the usual time of year that the team remembers that the season’s started and it’s time to start playing soccer.
Also, this win, coupled with PSV beating Galatasaray 2-0, means that Liverpool has qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare.
Reading on Saturday.