After The Match 


Liverpool-Anderlecht 3-0 (1-0)          01.11..05                    CL
Goals: Morientes (33), Garcia (60), Cisse (89)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Garcia, Crouch, Morientes
Subs: Zenden (Morientes, 51), Cisse (Crouch, 71),
Kewell (Gerrard, 78)
Not used: Dudek, Hamann, Josemi, Warnock
Yellow: Sissoko (20)
Red: Jestrovic (74)
Referee: Kim Nielsen
Shots on target: 10-2
Shots off target: 12-4
Possession: 59-41
Fouls conceded: 14-5
Corners: 6-2
Yellow: 1-0
Red: 0-1


HEADLINES "...I do not want to say
yet that
we are there."
    Rafael Benitez

0211: Rafa: Gerrard switch crucial
0211: Nando is a class act
0211: Just the tonic for Morientes
0211: Uefa to probe Sissoko 'race slur'
0211: Rafa's delight for Fernando
0111: Liverpool show class in comfortable win


Rafa: Gerrard switch crucial

Sporting Life

Rafael Benitez believes Steven Gerrard's willingness to play on the right of midfield has made Liverpool a better team.

Gerrard is still battling to hold down a role at the centre of England's midfield in a partnership with Frank Lampard but he has been key to a significant shift in the Liverpool manager's system and tactics in recent games.

It is unlikely the 25-year-old would have been particularly enamoured with being moved to the right of midfield to accommodate Xabi Alonso and Mohamed Sissoko but Benitez's gratitude to his skipper is clear.

Following the impressive 3-0 win over Anderlecht in the Champions League at Anfield, the Reds boss said: "Steve is happy there, he understands the tactics and he is always thinking about the benefits to the team.

"He knows it is important for us to have this balance and okay, it will be another possibility for me to consider."

There was not a hint of complaint from Gerrard after a victory which puts Liverpool top of Group G and just needing to avoid defeat against Real Betis at Anfield in three weeks' time to reach the last 16.

Gerrard said: "We looked very good going forward, we scored goals and we were pleased with the outcome."

Benitez's main problem this season has been getting all his top creative players to work together as well as finding balance and width to his stuttering side.

His search for an effective wide right midfielder had proved fruitless until he turned to the England international.

The fall-out from the defeats at Fulham and Crystal Palace has seen Benitez switch to a fluid 4-4-2, with Gerrard filling the gaping hole on the right where he has been encouraged to interchange with Luis Garcia on the left and for both players to move inside to attack.

Benitez said: "With Steve on the right side he has a lot of freedom, we then have more options there.

"We can also play Sissoko and Alonso together in the middle and it means we are able to regain a lot of possession and attack well

"While with Luis Garcia on the left we have a winger that allows us to play two strikers, attacking players behind the front men and a better balance.

"Steve and Luis change their positions many times, swapping and moving inside, and that makes it more difficult to control them. Both can play 'between the lines' and wide. Both can shoot and when we see Luis scoring goals like that (against Anderlecht) it means both can head the ball too.

"It is also important to us to have all these players with quality together. Steve is a good player and to be able to have him playing with Alonso, Luis Garcia and two strikers (means) it is a more offensive team."

For now, Benitez seems to have put on ice the 4-2-3-1 formation he has been trying to instil into Liverpool.

Playing alongside a second striker has also helped Peter Crouch, although he is still striving for that first goal. With more crosses arriving in the box, Crouch was better than of late although he is still not the goalscorer Liverpool want.

Benitez hinted he is unlikely to tinker much with a winning side at Aston Villa on Saturday despite the fact the side he put out, with Crouch replacing Djibril Cisse up front, was the 42nd successive time he has changed a team.

The Spaniard said: "We played well against West Ham at the weekend, scored two goals, and I decided to just change the one player, Crouch for Cisse.

"Whether we keep doing it in the league, I don't know for sure. It depends on whether players are tired. But my idea is that if the team is playing well then I will retain most parts of it."

Liverpool must wait until November 23 for the chance to complete the qualification task against Betis, while praying there are no shocks to leave them needing to get something from the final match at Chelsea on
December 6.

Chelsea would love to gain revenge for last season by eliminating the holders at Stamford Bridge but Benitez desperately wants to avoid that eventuality in west London.

He said: "It would have been nice to relax with us qualified, because I was waiting for a Chelsea victory against Betis. It hasn't happened and things will be more difficult but we do have the advantage over everyone else in the group.

"We are in a very good position. People were saying it was a very difficult group, but we have shown we can cope with it and the fact Betis have shown themselves to be a very good side underlines how well we played to win there in our first match.

"There is still work to do with another game with Real Betis.

"We must be careful because they are a good, attacking away side with fine strikers with pace.

"They are quick and play very good counter-attack, so we must be aware of our job and know we cannot take anything for certain."

Nando is a class act

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Jamie Carragher is tipping Fernando Morientes to revitalise his Anfield career after watching the striker grab a morale boosting goal in last night's win over Anderlecht.

Morientes' lean streak came to an end with a stunning opener in the 3-0 victory over the Belgians.

And Carragher hopes the strike signals a fresh start for the forward.

"There are some players who sign for top clubs and you watch them and wonder if they're good enough to make it, but that's never been the case with Morientes at Liverpool," said Carragher.

"He's a class act and you can see what skill and quality he has. We see how good his touch is in training every day and it's just been a case of him taking it into the games.

"The big question has been whether he can adapt to English football, but the real reason it's not happened sooner is really down to bad luck with injuries, as far as I'm concerned.

"I think a lot of the things which have been said about Morientes have been unfair because his biggest problem has been those injuries.

"It's not true to say he hasn't done anything. Last season he scored some cracking goals, including one against Charlton, and his first half performance in the Merseyside derby helped us win the game.

"The signs have been there before he can adapt to English football, but every time he's looked sharp he's picked up a knock. The key for him is to get a run of games under his belt and then he'd make a massive difference."

Morientes picked up another knock which forced his early departure last night, but Carragher is hoping the forward will now find some momentum.

Carragher added: "His record at the top level is exceptional, but he's never been what you'd call an out-and-out goalscorer like Michael Owen or Robbie Fowler.

"He's a more all-round player who likes to play off defenders, so expecting him to tumble in lot of goals every week wasn't realistic.

"If he can get a run of games going I'm sure he'll score plenty and the goal he scored last night will do his confidence the world of good.

"He's probably put the most difficult chance of all away, but now he's got one, hopefully a few more aren't far away."

Liverpool's victory last night means they only need a point against Real Betis in their next fixture to qualify for the knockout stage.

Just the tonic for Morientes

By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

The victory over Anderlecht could be just the tonic Liverpool need after their early season difficulties putting goals on the scoreboard.

Anderlecht weren't a very good side but European ties can always be tricky these days and the Reds put three good goals past them to safely put themselves top of the group.

The first goal was the most important. With half an hour gone the Belgians were beginning to believe they might keep Liverpool at bay.

It was a really sweet strike from Morientes and just as important for him personally as it was for the team at the time.

He's been under the microscope recently for failing to really get his Anfield career going since his switch from Real Madrid last season. He gave his all last Saturday against West Ham - which the fans appreciated - but still didn't get the goal he wanted.

Last night he put that right and you could see from his celebrations how much it meant to him and the rest of the team, who are clearly right behind him and full of belief he has the desire and talent to be a big hit at Anfield.

I wish I could say the same for Peter Crouch, but unfortunately I now have serious doubts that the big fella will ever prove his doubters wrong.

He got in decent enough positions early on last night but failed to hit the target, let alone hit the net. As the game progressed he looked less and less likely to score and at times the touch which he seemed to display when he first came also seemed to desert him.

Every Liverpool supporter - unlike the minority of England fans who boo him - wants Crouch to do well. To their credit, the Kop are giving him their backing, and last night you could sense the desire to see him succeed and get on the scoresheet.

But encouragement from the fans and endeavour from a player cannot count for anything if the quality needed to play up front for a club of Liverpool's stature simply isn't there in the first place.

The fear now is the longer he goes without a goal, the more his confidence will drain and he will struggle even more.

It's a shame because two of the three main strikers at Anfield did get on the scoresheet last night when the fans were desperately willing all of them to score.

Crouch, again, failed the test on the big stage. And he is starting to run out of time to repay the faith Benitez has put in him.

Everyone was baffled by the red card shown to Jestrovic last night.

But if he said what it seems he did then top marks to the referee for spotting it and acting without a second thought.

It's taken years to drive out the sort of racist abuse which was commonplace around the game when I played.

And it's clear there are some players and supporters, particuarly those from eastern Europe, who simply haven't learned the lesson.

This was a good a way as anyway of teaching it.

Uefa to probe Sissoko 'race slur'

BBC Sport Online

Uefa will probe Anderlecht substitute Nenad Jestrovic for alleged racial abuse of Liverpool's Mohamed Sissoko in Tuesday's Champions League tie.

Jestrovic claimed Sissoko swore at him but it was the Serbian's comments which saw him immediately shown the red card by referee Kim Milton Nielsen.

Nielsen's report is now being studied by Uefa, which confirmed it will begin an inquiry into the alleged "insult".

Jestrovic denies racial abuse saying "I can't understand why I was sent off."

The Anderlecht striker, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, added, "I approached the referee after the game and he said it was for an obscenity."

Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren said he could not condone Jestrovic if it was proven he had racially abused Sissoko.

But he would not take any further action against his player until he knew the full details of Nielsen's report.

"If it was racial abuse, I cannot condone that," said Vercauteren.

"The other player should also have been sent off as well. He said something similar.

"These things should not be said, but I do not intend to punish my player further."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said: "I have not spoken to Sissoko about what happened so I do not know what was said."

Uefa will now begin their inquiry which could take up to 15 days to reach a conclusion.

Rafa's delight for Fernando

By Rob Lancaster - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was delighted to see Fernando Morientes get on the scoresheet in The Reds 3-0 win over Anderlecht.

The former Real Madrid frontman grabbed the first of the hosts' goals at Anfield, as they moved top of Group G in the UEFA Champions League with their third win in four outings.

With Chelsea slipping up away at Real Betis, Liverpool sit three points clear in the race to reach the knockout stages of the competition, although Benitez insists he is taking nothing for granted.

"I am delighted with the team," said the Spaniard. "We have three more points and a lot of confidence.

"They played well and scored three good goals and one came from (Fernando) Morientes, which is important for him as well as us.

"We still need to play Betis, and I know they are very good away from home.

"They have very quick strikers and we need to be very aware of what is needed."

He added: "If we win, we will have qualified, but I do not want to say yet that we are there."

Liverpool show class in comfortable win

Ireland On-Line

Liverpool at last produced a performance in keeping with their status as European champions to move to the top of Group G tonight.

News of Chelsea’s defeat in Seville provoked wild cheers from the Anfield faithful, but that result means the Spanish side will travel to Anfield on November 23 still in with an outside chance of qualifying themselves.

Betis will then have a final home game against whipping boys Anderlecht while Liverpool may have to go to Stamford Bridge on December 6 still needing something from the match.

That is something Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is desperate to avoid but he can take comfort from his side’s performance with Fernando Morientes, Luis Garcia and Djibril Cisse scoring at Anfield.

Anderlecht’s night of misery was compounded by a late red card for substitute Nenad Jestrovic, believed to be for racial abuse of Mohamed Sissoko.

Liverpool made just one change from the side which beat West Ham on Saturday, Benitez leaving out Cisse and opting for Peter Crouch up front alongside Morientes, which meant skipper Steven Gerrard was again used on the right of midfield.

Crouch was involved immediately, heading a Steve Finnan cross wide and then setting up Luis Garcia for a dipping drive which was held by Silvio Proto.

Liverpool took a firm grip on proceedings with slick passing moves, only punctuated by an Anderlecht break which saw Serhat blatantly dive over a challenge from John Arne Riise in the corner of the box.

Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen waved play on, but maybe should have done something about the theatrics.

Penned back for long spells, Anderlecht could still produce slick passing of their own and one fine example was brought to an end by a Sissoko trip on Christian Wilhelmsson which earned a booking for the Mali international.

A minute later Crouch came close to his first Liverpool goal when he slid in on the near post to stab a low Gerrard cross just wide.

The supply line of crosses from Finnan had been consistent and when the Irish fullback fired in another from the right, Morientes met it six yards out with a first time effort which Proto blocked. Crouch could not turn quickly enough to do anything but hook the rebound wide.

But Morientes opened the scoring on 34 minutes when he chested down a Gerrard through ball before firing a drive in off the far post as Hannu Tihinen failed to close down quickly enough.

It was the Spaniard’s first Anfield goal of the season and only his sixth goal in 28 matches for the club.

Liverpool started the second period intent on finishing the contest as quickly as possible.

Morientes had a shot deflected wide and Sissoko saw his 12-yard effort also blocked.

Jamie Carragher then saw an unopposed header from the corner clutched gratefully by Proto but Liverpool’s system was disrupted when Morientes was replaced on 52 minutes by Bolo Zenden, the goalscorer clearly carrying an injury.

However on 61 minutes Finnan again provided the ammunition and Garcia, some 15 yards out and at a difficult angle, flicked a perfect header on the run into the far corner for Liverpool’s second.

Anderlecht responded with a battling run down the left and along the byline by Wilhelmsson, before his shot was blocked on the near post by Jose Reina.

But Liverpool were flying now and Sissoko and Alonso both went close in a sustained period of attacking.

Liverpool sent on Cisse for Crouch on 71 minutes before referee Nielsen had his famous red card out again. The official who has sent off David Beckham and Wayne Rooney on past occasions this time dispatched Serbian Jestrovic on 75 minutes.

The substitute was involved in an exchange of words with Sissoko and Nielsen was clearly not happy with what he heard, instantly brandishing the card.

A minute from time Cisse completed the victory when he ran onto a Kewell pass before coolly slipping the ball past Proto for his eighth Champions League goal in 11 games this season.

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Thor Zakariassen ©