09 December 2006

Liverpool 4-0 Fulham

Second straight 4-0 win in the league. Certainly cannot have any complaints with that.

Everything seemed to go according to script. The first half saw Liverpool dominate both possession and chances, but go into the half 0-0, as has been a frequent occurrence. There were three solid opportunities, with the best two a Kuyt miss after a nice centering pass by Pennant, and a clear-cut handball that wasn’t called (one of two possible penalty shouts).

But in the second half, everything went Liverpool’s way. It started with Uriah Rennie finally getting one right, and actually seeing Ian Pearce’s handball on Kuyt’s goal-bound shot. Gerrard stepped up to take the penalty, which was easily saved, but it fortuitously bounced back into his path, and the second chance was coolly slotted home.

As frequently happens, the first goal opened the floodgates. Liverpool had been the better team throughout the game, but after the goal they were simply dominant. A second soon followed, from Jamie Carragher (!!!) of all people, smashing home Agger’s flick-on from Gerrard’s corner. Garcia added the third with a header reminiscent of Gerrard’s against Milan, with Agger again tallying the assist. I firmly believe Luis is the best header on the team, at all of 5’7” (see also: Anderlecht).

After the third, Liverpool was content to take the foot off the gas. Gonzalez, Crouch, and Fowler all came on (for Kuyt, Bellamy, and Garcia respectively), and it looked as if they were content to see the game out. In the last minute of stoppage time, Liverpool earned a free kick at the top of the box, and Gonzalez curled a stunning left footed free kick into the near post, giving the keeper no chance. Nice to have two South Americans (whenever Aurelio returns) who can pop up with goals like that, just a thing of beauty.

I can’t decide if the scoreline flatters Liverpool or not. They certainly deserved to win, and were the superior team the entire game. But 4-0, after going scoreless for 50 minutes, seems a little much. Bouba Diop’s injury, and subsequent substitution early in the second, opened up a lot more space for Liverpool to operate, and they took advantage. And credit to Fulham, they may not have offered a lot in attack, but they never sat everyone behind the ball, and came out in the second half looking to score right away.

It’s nice to literally have zero complaints; I’m absolutely delighted with the second half performance. No one had a bad game; Kuyt and Garcia were more wasteful than usual in the first half, but both played important parts later on. Pennant had another excellent game, showing much more willingness to take defenders on, and with greater success. Agger gets my man of the match, with his assists, ability going forward, and clearing headers from Fulham’s few corners, but it easily could be Jermaine as well. Reina was challenged twice all match, and made two fine saves, and the defense was sound throughout. Even Carra got in on the scoring, which completely makes my weekend. I hate to repeat myself, as I ended the Wigan match on the same note, but long may it continue.

Roll on Charlton.

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