Sami Hyypia celebrates his opener at Anfield.
(Photo: Getty Images)
proves the perfect all-rounder
By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard has proved in recent games
a great leader he is.
After a big disappointment on international duty a lot of
players would take three or four games to really get back
But the Reds skipper has shrugged off England’s defeat to
Croatia and shown everyone his quality.
People talk about the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo at
Manchester United, but I wouldn’t swop Steven for anyone.
Against Newcastle at St James’ Park he was incredible and he
produced another outstanding, all-round performance against
Bolton on Sunday.
He leads by example and has been the key to the Reds’ recent
Gerrard is enjoying a great scoring streak, too, with eight
in the last nine games, but there is so much more to his
game than goals.
His ability to create is a massive asset and his delivery
for Sami Hyypia’s header was top quality, as was his through
ball for Fernando Torres to calmly make it 2-0.
I had a fantastic player in Kenny Dalglish to create chances
for me when I was at Anfield and Torres is lucky to have a
player of Gerrard’s calibre playing behind him.
Torres has settled in so quickly and it’s as if he’s been
here for years. We all knew how talented he was before he
came to Liverpool but he wasn’t prolific in Spain.
To have 11 goals already is impressive and he is clearly
relishing playing in this Liverpool side.
He’s so quick over 10 to 20 yards that he leaves defenders
trailing. Bob Paisley used to say that the first two yards
are in your head and that’s the case with Torres. He’s such
a quick thinker.
Gerrard has been crucial to the flying start Torres has
enjoyed at Anfield.
The pair of them seem to be on the same wavelength and they
are turning into a great double act.
Bolton had beaten Manchester United in their previous league
game but the Reds went past them with ease.
That’s the way it should be at home and winning games like
that goes some way towards making Anfield a fortress again.
Earlier in the season, Liverpool tended to look to
consolidate when they got in front but now they are
continuing to press and the goals are flowing. Visitors to
Anfield must be starting to worry again and it’s nice to
Another positive was the fact that the goals were shared
around again with four different goalscorers. Torres is in
great form, but it’s important that others are chipping in.
The Reds are going for the jugular in matches now and I
think that’s the way we have to play if we’re going to keep
Since the Besiktas game we’ve really gone for it and it’s as
if that game has given the players the confidence to keep
Saturday’s trip to Reading is followed by two massive games
– the crunch Champions League clash in Marseille and the
Premier League showdown with Manchester United at Anfield.
In recent years, we would have gone into games like that
more in hope than truly believing the Reds can triumph.
But with the current run the side is on, supporters can
rightly look towards those two games with confidence.
The Reds have put themselves in a great position to
challenge for the title.
It’s a fascinating race and I still think whoever ends up
above Manchester United will win the league. Arsenal are
fantastic, but United set the standard, and it will be
interesting to see how Arsenal react when they lose a game.
As for Chelsea, they will lose four players to the African
Nations Cup in January and I think that could cost them
The recent resurgence has put the Reds in title contention
and the challenge facing them now is to ensure they stay
praise from all quarters
Rafael Benitez was moved to say "thank
you" to Liverpool's American owners when they let him buy
Fernando Torres in the summer.
Now the Kop understands why Tom Hicks and George Gillett
gained such gratitude from a man they have been at war with,
as they sing the praises of their new goalscoring hero.
Peace has finally broken out at Anfield at the same time as
Torres confirmed his status as the real thing.
Legendary strikers over the decades at Anfield have gloried
in their one-word adulation, the solitary verbal respect as
a single name booms around the stadium.
The Spaniard has already joined that revered group. St John,
Keegan, Dalglish, Fowler and now Torres, their names cascade
down from the Kop.
Torres has reached that level of acclaim just five months
into his Anfield career. He scored a sublime goal, his 11th
in 17 matches, to send Liverpool on their way to a 4-0
hammering of Bolton, their fifth successive victory with 21
goals coming in that spree.
Liverpool's unbeaten league start to the campaign is their
best opening run since 1991. Going unbeaten in 14 is already
better than their run at the beginning of the 1989-90
campaign when they won their last title.
Torres may have started his career in England slowly after
the £20million-plus move from Atletico Madrid, but he is on
Fellow countryman Jose Reina, who is grateful he is no
longer on the receiving end of Torres' quality, sings the
23-year-old's praises just like the fans.
Goalkeeper Reina admits: "I was Fernando's favourite
goalkeeper back in Spain, he put so many goals past me."
Now Reina can stand and watch safely from a distance as
Torres creates havoc, driving Liverpool into a
Reina says: "Fernando has been getting better and better
over the last few weeks.
"He has become a very important player for us, he has pace,
and he can now finish.
"He has the qualities to play consistently at a very high
level, and now he is at that level in England.
"He is quick, strong and clever. He has great movement and
can be aggressive to cope with playing against big
"He is so important. He can be a target player, but he can
play other roles. Let's see how much more he can progress, I
believe he will do that."
Torres has scored four goals in five games - skipper Steven
Gerrard adding eight in nine - as Liverpool have started to
stake a genuine claim on the title.
Reina added: "It takes time to adapt to a new league, but
for him it has been easier than a lot of other players.
"It is important, though, for him to keep learning. There is
still a long way for him to go yet.
"I played against him a lot in Spain, many times. He used to
score a lot, I am one of his favourite goalkeepers because I
have conceded many goals to him.
"Now he has become my friend and team-mate so that does not
happen any more. Thankfully."
Torres has quickly won over his colleagues as well as the
fans. Gerrard said: "Getting into double figures before
Christmas is great for him and the team. We know if we get
him chances, he will score."
Benitez, not known for praising individuals, added: "Torres
scored a great goal. He has learnt well and quickly. But the
team is playing better so he is playing better.
"The opposition are concentrating on him, and that leaves
the space for the others to work and score."
Reina: It was easy for me
By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website
Pepe Reina admits he is delighted to play
the role of spectator after Liverpool notched up yet another
comprehensive victory with a 4-0 demolition of Bolton on
The Reds stopper picked up his 12th clean sheet of the
season as Rafael Benitez's men made it 21 goals in five
matches, and he revealed that he is more than happy to sit
back and enjoy the show - even if it does mean he gets cold.
"It is easier than ever for me at the moment with the way
the team is playing," said Reina.
"I had to keep warm just in case I was needed but it was
difficult because it was cold, wet and windy but the result
did keep me warm.
"Hopefully every game can be like this one and like the last
five because we have done really well.
"From my own point of view, it is always really important to
keep a clean sheet because that brings confidence, trust and
"And the fact that we are scoring plenty of goals and taking
more chances is also good.
"The whole team is in good form and we have to keep going in
Defensive stalwart Sami Hyypia got things underway against
Gary Megson's side when he opened the scoring at the Kop end
to secure his first goal of the season.
It capped another fine performance from the giant Finn, who
has been in good form in the absence of Daniel Agger - a
fact that has not been lost on Reina.
"I have said many times how good Sami is and I'm sure the
people who were at Anfield yesterday won't need me to tell
them that he was brilliant once again," enthused Reina.
"He has been like that all season and it is great for me to
play behind players like Sami, Carra, Arbeloa and Riise. And
Jack (Hobbs) came on and did a good job so he can be proud
The 4-0 triumph moved the Red into third place in the
Premier League table, but had Nicolas Anelka converted a
glorious chance with the match still finely poised at 1-0,
it could have been a different story.
Reina said: "I was expecting it to be 1-1 but things like
this sometimes happen even to the best strikers. Anelka is a
good player and he was just unlucky and we were quite
The miss of the season contender came as a result of a
mix-up between both Reina and Jamie Carragher, and the
keeper insisted it was simply a case of crossed wires
between the two of them.
He added: "It's because we both (Carragher and Reina) go for
every ball and we are both aggressive and I try to do the
same as him - to do my best for the team - and sometimes
things like this happen."
How Fernando Torres is
overtaking the past masters
Comment by Ben Thornley - Liverpool Daily Post
For all the lyrical vividness of
football’s most famous stand, occasionally the Kop’s message
is most emphatically delivered without the need for poetic
While Anfield jeered the return of the only number nine in
Liverpool ’s history to finish a season without a league
strike, the current occupant of that shirt was afforded the
ultimate tribute, as he extended his tally to 11 goals in
just 17 appearances.
As Fernando Torres was withdrawn for Dirk Kuyt, after a
majestic 77-minute display of power, panache and precision
finishing in yesterday’s 4-0 victory, his substitution was
met with a chant strictly reserved for Liverpool legends.
Known as the ‘Dalglish’ or ‘Fowler chant’ depending on your
age, it is effectively a series of claps followed by the
insertion of the player’s name.
Sometimes, even for supporters with as varied a hymn-sheet
as the Anfield faithful, only the simplistic will suffice.
Torres’s Liverpool career is still in its infancy, but there
is no better judge of talent on the stands of English
The Kop has celebrated many cult figures in recent seasons
but still nothing quite excites its inhabitants like a
player of Torres’s calibre.
Even his team-mates greeted his exit with a round of
applause, such was his contribution to this triumph over a
primitive Bolton side which has no place in the top flight.
His stunning goal on the stroke of half-time – Liverpool’s
second of the afternoon, and according to Rafael Benitez,
the most important – encapsulated his performance.
Steven Gerrard picked out the Spain striker’s searing run
with a delightfully weighted 40-yard pass. He burst beyond
Bolton’s defence before finishing with a delightful, dinked
effort from an acute angle. Fantastic stuff.
As would any player with his vision, the Liverpool captain
clearly enjoys playing alongside the club record signing.
This was the kind of capture Gerrard – who netted his side’s
third from the spot and also had a hand in the other two –
had demanded when he questioned the ambition of the Anfield
outfit three years previously.
While Gerrard has forged an excellent understanding with
countryman Peter Crouch, the Whiston-born playmaker has not
enjoyed this kind of on-field relationship with a striker
since the departure of Michael Owen.
Torres, however, offers much more than the Newcastle man.
Like Owen, the former Atletico skipper’s breathtaking pace
enables him to create chances out of nothing, constantly
forcing the opposition onto the back foot.
In one such moment, Torres collected a wayward pass from
Ricardo Gardner on 34 minutes before bursting past his
markers Abdoulaye Meite and Lubomir Michalik, only to fire
across the face of goal from a difficult position.
Accompanied by an appetite for the grittier aspects of
Premier League football, Liverpool are a completely
different prospect with his inclusion – a force capable of
challenging for the title.
While Torres’s capture could prove to be the defining
transfer of Benitez’s reign, El Hadji Diouf represented
everything that was wrong with the latter years of his
In an ineffective display brought to an end by Wanderers
manager Gary Megson after just 66 minutes, Diouf reminded
Anfield exactly what they were not missing, the sneering
forward providing a stark contrast to the cheery persona of
the current number nine.
Booed by the home fans throughout, he failed to stamp his
mark on the contest, even if he did leave an imprint on the
ankle of the excellent Alvaro Arbeloa with a disgusting
lunge that should have earned the Senegalese a red card.
Also true to type, the Bolton forward at least provided the
Anfield Road end with one moment of entertainment, when he
fluffed an attempted trick as he made his way to the corner
flag. His off-field flamboyance was never matched by similar
exuberance on a pitch with which he was more acquainted to
in a prone position.
Even his list of indiscretions, however, which include
spitting at opposing fans, celebrating Marseille’s UEFA Cup
victory over Liverpool in 2003 and a pathetic penchant for
diving, might perhaps have been overlooked by Liverpool’s
supporters had he possessed Torres’s talent.
Benitez: Reds can roll to title
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has
revealed his confidence that the Reds can maintain a
consistent challenge for the Premier League title.
The Reds boss is overseeing an impressive run of outstanding
performances - five straight victories in all competition
and 21 goals in that run - while his team maintain their
unbeaten Premier League record.
Liverpool inflicted a 4-0 mauling on Lancashire rivals
Bolton on Sunday and jumped above Manchester United in the
table - at least until the champions face Fulham tonight.
Benitez is preparing for the busy December and January
months and said: "We are playing well, we must see whether
our rivals make mistakes. Then we will look at the situation
again at the end of January before we start talking about
Bolton, despite a brave first half display in which they
should have been level had Nicolas Anelka scored a sitter,
Liverpool won with goals from Sami Hyypia, Fernando Torres,
Steven Gerrard and Ryan Babel.
"The team is playing well, we were not fantastic, but it was
still a good performance," said Benitez.
"We scored four and it could have been more, you must be
pleased with a performance like that.
"The last three years we were too far behind at this stage.
Now we are closer, we have a better squad and confidence.
"We have confidence, we must keep going and see whether our
rivals make any mistakes."
He added: "We have a lot of games now in December and
January, we must keep everyone focused and concentrating. If
we do not make mistakes then we will be closer.
"I have confidence for the second part of the season. We can
improve, we have players doing well and improving.
"But we have five people injured now - Daniel Agger, Steve
Finnan, Xabi Alonso, Jermaine Pennant and Fabio Aurelio.
"When we get all these players fit we can play better with
more options and quality."
Manager Rafael Benitez was happy to talk
about his team’s exploits rather than his own future for a
change after Liverpool’s 4-0 mauling of Bolton.
The victory took his side into third place in the Premier
League, one point behind Chelsea with a match in hand.
Still unbeaten in the league this term, Liverpool have now
won five on the trot and scored 21 goals in that spell.
After watching Sami Hyypia, Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard
and Ryan Babel grab the goals that finally deflated Bolton
“The team is playing well, we are making plenty of chances
and scored four, but it could have been many more. I must be
pleased with form like this.
“It is important for us to see the goals shared around, if
one player can get 20 and nobody else scores, it is easier
for teams to stop a team.
“But we are making it very difficult for our opponents now,
we are in good form and I am very confident that we can
maintain this in the second half of the season.
“But we can still improve, I believe that. We have quality,
plenty of options and the opportunity to bring on fresh legs
late in matches.”
Megson: No rash reactions
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
Bolton manager Gary Megson insists there
will be no 'knee jerk reaction' to his side's 4-0 defeat to
"It was a bad day at the office for all concerned," Megson
told Sky Sports News.
"There won't be a knee jerk reaction to what was a poor
performance and obviously a poor result.
"We didn't get found out for lack of effort or desire. We
made some poor decisions and it has happened on a stage
where you are really going to get punished for those sorts
"We'll be in on Monday. Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves
off, lick our wounds and we'll be ready to go again on
Thursday night and Sunday against Wigan."
Megson also refused to blame star striker Nicolas Anelka,
who missed an open goal chance to equalise when the score
"It is one of them," Megson added. "The ball dropped to Nic
and we all expected to see the net bulging, but that didn't
"Certainly in my time at Bolton that is the first chance
that I would have expected him to score and he hasn't, but
he is still a terrific player and a terrific finisher.
"He'll go on from that and he won't dwell on it, we won't
let him dwell on it. Even If that had gone in I'm not sure
it would have affected the outcome."
Rampant Reds crush Trotters
Liverpool maintained their unbeaten
Premier League record and made it five successive wins as
they crushed Bolton 4-0 at Anfield.
After demolishing Bolton, they have scored 21 goals in that
five-game run to move into third place in the table, a point
behind Chelsea with a game in hand.
In a week that has seen boss Rafael Benitez seemingly settle
his public dispute with the club's American owners, his side
have been in tip-top form.
Four goals against Porto, four against a dispirited Bolton
has dispelled any lingering doubts about Benitez's side.
From Besiktas to Bolton over the past weeks there is now a
list of people who have learned to their cost that if there
is trouble in the corridors of power at Anfield, it ends
when the players walk on to the pitch.
Goals from Sami Hyypia and Fernando Torres - his 11th in 17
games - had Liverpool in command at the break and a Steven
Gerrard penalty sealed what was a comfortable victory before
Ryan Babel tapped in the fourth.
Bolton had gone five games unbeaten under new boss Gary
Megson, but despite a initially defiant display, they were
eventually brushed aside.
Bolton made four changes from the side that produced their
best display of the season in beating Manchester United last
weekend. Jlloyd Samuel, Gary Speed, Gavin McCann and Lubomir
Michalik all returned in a team that included two former
Liverpool strikers, Nicolas Anelka and El-Hadji Diouf.
Bolton started with Kevin Davies, usually a striker, on the
right of midfield, but moving in to support Anelka when the
Trotters broke out.
And that ploy caused Liverpool more than a few problems.
Initially, Bolton were under pressure as Harry Kewell and
Yossi Benayoun ran at their defence. Ricardo Gardner had to
kick away from an open goal from Peter Crouch, and then
Jussi Jaaskelainen needed to be alert to scoop away a Torres
close range effort after Benayoun's run.
Bolton come into their own at set-pieces, and when a Diouf
corner was flicked on by Abdoulaye Meite right in front of
Jose Reina, the ball was hastily cleared.
Diouf was booked on 11 minutes for a nasty tackle into
Alvaro Arbeloa's ankle with the ball long gone. And it was
Liverpool who went ahead from a set-piece of their own.
Gerrard's 16th minute free-kick was flicked into the bottom
corner by Hyypia.
Crouch, with a header over from Gerrard's corner and then
Kewell with a snap shot that flew wide threatened to
increase the lead, but generally Bolton were working very
hard to stop Liverpool's build-up from the back.
Anelka and Diouf were always capable of causing problems for
Liverpool's defence, while Campo, Speed and Gavin McCann
battled to regain possession.
Torres saw a cross-shot go wide of the far post, but at the
other end Davies got away into space on the right to fire in
a fierce low shot that Arbeloa hooked away from a gaping
And on 38 minutes, Anelka should have equalised. Reina and
Jamie Carragher collided on the edge of the box, and the
ball ran for the Frenchman on the right of the six-yard box.
But somehow he managed to miss an open goal from 12 yards,
putting his effort into the side netting. And Bolton were to
regret that clanger.
A minute from the break, Torres eased Liverpool's tensions
with a stunning goal. Gerrard's 35-yard, inch-perfect
through ball, sent Torres into the box to clip his 12th goal
of the season over Jaaskelainen.
Gerrard surged into the box and saw a fierce drive deflected
by Jaaskelainen four minutes into the second-half, and a
minute later Carragher was replaced by teenager Jack Hobbs,
who made his league debut. Carragher had been hurt in that
first-half collision with Reina.
But on 54 minutes Gerrard did beat Jaaskelainen, this time
from the spot. Peter Crouch looked to be impeded by both
Meite and Michalik as he went for a Gerrard cross.
Referee Steve Bennett pointed to the spot and Gerrard
drilled the penalty home.
Reina saved from an Anelka snap-shot on 59 minutes but all
hope had gone for the Trotters.
Campo was booked for a foul on Benayoun on the edge of the
box and Torres almost scored again when he surged in from
the right, beat three men and chipped the ball over the far
Stelios Giannakopoulos replaced Diouf on 65 minutes, and a
minute later Babel took over from Kewell for Liverpool.
Dirk Kuyt replaced Torres on 76 minutes, and the Dutchman
helped Gerrard set up Babel for the fourth with six minutes
Meite headed a Babel effort off the line soon after as
Bolton were reduced to praying for the final whistle.