01 February 2009

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Arbeloa Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Alonso Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Riera

Torres 89’ 90+4’

Outstanding. I never thought I’d be thanking Mike Riley for a Liverpool victory.

But we’re really thanking Fernando Torres. Yes, I’ll get it out of the way up top. That was never, ever a red card on Frank Lampard. But I also remember a penalty that never was which cost Liverpool two points last season. That’s why I’m a firm believer in karma.

And if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Fernando Torres, it could have easily stayed 0-0. For 29 minutes with a man advantage, it looked exactly like the recent frustrating draws. And then Torres made his presence felt and made sure the better team won. Looks like someone might be finding his feet after injury – and coupled with today’s win, that’s more than enough to restore some of the faith lost in the last few weeks.

For 60 minutes, even with the lack of goals, you couldn’t help but be pleased with the performance. Had Liverpool not had so many draws of late, the 0-0 would have almost been satisfying. Both defenses were dominant, with the four centerbacks easily the players of the game, and Carragher and Alex a further step ahead of the pack.

But Liverpool was in control for the most part, and although chances were again hard to come by, the home side had all the best. Alonso and Mascherano tested Cech, who looked tentative, early on, before Alex had to spectacularly block Torres’ shot off the turn and Ashley Cole almost turned the rebound from Riera’s shot into his own net. Meanwhile, Chelsea didn’t get a shot on target all half as Liverpool’s defense snuffed everything out and Alonso and Mascherano – Alonso, who was again fantastic, especially – set the pace in midfield. Had Kuyt and Riera delivered a better end product, Liverpool probably would have been a goal to the good before the break.

And the second half started similarly, with Liverpool even more dominant in possession. Alex again blocked a Torres shot on target before Mike Riley made himself the main talking point. Alonso and Lampard went for the same ball, with Lampard getting there first, albeit with studs high. If anything, it’s probably a foul by Alonso, but Riley somehow comes up with a red card for Frankie. Lampard barely argued; he just looked confused. As did everyone else.

You can’t throw away gifts like that. Chelsea didn’t at Anfield last season, and for nearly half an hour, it looked like Liverpool would. The pressure, and chances, came non-stop. Alex and Terry were superb, and Chelsea were content to sit back and see out a goalless draw. Had Liverpool not been able to take advantage of the extra man, the worrying, complaining, and second-guessing would have continued. Because it looked again like the lack of end product would cost Liverpool – and Benitez had even made attacking substitutions, bringing on Benayoun for Riera and Babel for Mascherano.

But Fernando Torres again makes all the difference, and Liverpool responded with the late heroics we’d been waiting for. In the 89th minute, the home side again poured forward, Aurelio curled in yet another cross from the left, and Torres made a beautiful run to beat Alex at the near post, glancing his header past Cech. Finally. Thank you.

Chelsea, with 0-2 no different than 0-1, tried to steal an equalizer by actually attacking with more than two players, but the space allowed that man Torres to claim his brace, with Cole making a mistake on Kuyt’s flick-on, allowing Benayoun to get in behind. When the left back tried to make a recovering tackle, he could only shift the ball into the path of Torres, who only had to pass into an empty net to seal an exceptionally gratifying win.

Once again, I’m left feeling that luck is the determining factor in this league. You have to have the talent to take advantage of that luck – which Torres has in spades – and you have to put in the work – which Liverpool rarely fails to do – but lucky breaks often make the difference. Liverpool couldn’t buy a break in every single one of the draws before this match. But one bad decision by a referee prone to bad decisions has given Liverpool the opportunity to push on. And at the end of the day, the better team won, thanks to the brilliance of Fernando Torres and the diligence of every player in the side.

With the form United’s in, Liverpool will need a lot more than luck. But it seems a lot sunnier outside than it did an hour ago. Now Liverpool has to put it to use.


Abhiram said...

Great game. Awesome victory!!!
Some observations on the game:
Riera was a culprit on more than one occasion. The pass from Gerrard which he passed back was the worst. He tried running against the defenders to no avail for most of the game.
Bennayoun is very important to us. I guess many will understand that now.
Bring on the Toffees!

Mike Georger said...

Anyone have a picture of the genie celebration? Just brilliant stuff.

The Kuwaitis that were in attendance today could not have had a better sales pitch than the last seven minutes of this game.

Bilal said...

It's hard to stop smiling after that... We still have major issues, but Rafa made two good subs, Aurelio teased us again with what we might have had over the last few years if only he wasn't made of glass, El Nino scoring again and frankly, beating Chelsea is second only to beating United.

Django said...

Benayoun, for me, made all the difference after coming on. He completely altered our attack--mixing it up wide and through the middle. If he was consistently playing at that level, there would not be as much need for another wide man. Can't say much more about Torres, just glad that he's ours.

Mike Anton said...

Echoing Django's sentiments exactly. This felt like one of those matches all game long, exasperated by the Fwank red and having Liverpool go up with 8 or 9 against the ball. I thought Yossi should have been on earlier, and for Kuyt, and couldn't understand why you'd push Gerrard back. Then we won 2-0 and I remembered again that I'm just a dumb kid from New Jersey and Rafa has won a few big eared cups.

Oh, and I've been singing the Torres song all day. Who needs the super bowl with a match like this?

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea said...

Torres gives Liverpool a dramatic victory against Chelsea...
Liverpool had a lovely match...
BUT i am against the red card!! big mistake ..

Django said...

Lost in all the controversy about Lampard's sending off and the joyful delirium of victory was the horrific no call when Uni-Boswinga decided to place his boot in Yossi's back. That was unreal, it was like Ben Thatcher took over Boswinga's body for a brief moment of madness. Hopefully the FA reviews this and gives him a nice fine/suspension. For me, that is one of the worst fouls I've seen, luckily it didn't result in any serious injury, other than an adidas symbol on Benayoun's lower back.

nate said...

yeah, you guys are definitely right - benayoun made a huge difference today, and hopefully he'll keep it up, both off the bench and in starts.

and hopefully riley didn't see bosingwa's dhalsim impression, so the FA can give him a rightful suspension.

Django said...

Any way I can leave a photo in the comment section? Just took a picture with my cell phone of the Boswinga "challenge" and uploaded it, absolutely disgraceful stuff.

iskoppa said...

A long hard slog of a game, that's for sure! But the onion was brill and if the FA don't do something about that so called challenge on him in the last moments of the match, then they are as bad as I think they are!!!!!!!!!!

vinnie said...

this would be the next most nervous game since last year CL semi final!! and the later we got into the game without a goal, the more relief i get at the same time, cuz i know, if we scored early on, chelsea will strike back

even though benayoun was only indirectly contributed the 2nd goal, i still think he created another dimension and opened more opportunity when he came up

Tram66 said...

Not saying it would've made a difference...

But since Keane scored twice against Bolton, there have been 630min of game time played, he's been on the pitch for 147min of that.

He was on the subs for Newcastle, Stoke and Wigan. Only playing in the Wigan match, and not until what, the 83rd?

Started for Preston and the first Everton match, subbed both times at 73 and 67.

Was not on the squad at all for the second Everton match and Chelsea.

So again, not saying it would've made a difference, but after scoring twice, you would think he'd be given a bit more of a chance than that?

Bilal said...

well, Tram66, Keane's returned to Spurs today. I've still got mixed feelings about that, you could argue that it'll help the team now constant rumours will be stopped, but I can't help feeling that Keane was a potential Daglish if only we could have worked him in somehowand the Torres partnership gelled.

Mike Georger said...

Only team in the league to not bring in anyone during the window, and they sold off the backup at their most injury hit position.

Parry and Rafa are just brilliant. Unless I wake up tomorrow and find out they had a deal made for Villa or Saviola, it's the last straw.

Django said...

Sad to see Robbie leave. His form for us was obviously not great, but you couldn't question his heart. Funny how two players on the same team, same number of goals and assists in league, both lacking in form but willing to go all out for the squad can be treated so differently. Don't know that I will ever understand why Kuyt's workrate equals more playing time with less technical ability and Keane, with the same workrate and more technical ability, was only viewed as disappointing. Not to harp on Kuyt, but he's been garbage lately, and it has been frustrating to see the treatment of Keane. The whole power struggle and statement-making fiasco has gotten ridiculous. Sad that Robbie Keane was seemingly a casualty of that. Yeah, yeah, I'm not Rafa and he's won cups, but that's little excuse for the way Keane was treated at the club.

Anonymous said...

@ Mike Georger


nate said...

i wouldn't derive any hope from the above article.

i'm struggling to think of any transfer gossip the spoiler's broken that's turned out to be true.