After The Match 


Norwich-Liverpool 1-2 (0-0)              Mon Jan 3.                Premier League
Goals: Garcia (58), Riise (63)          Jarvis (88)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock, Gerrard, Diao, Nunez, Riise, Garcia, Mellor
Subs: Pongolle (Mellor 62), Hamann (Nunez 77), Traore (Riise 83)
Not used: Harrison, Raven
Yellow: Finnan (53), Hyypia (61), Warnock (92)
Francis (41), Bentley (57)
Red: None
Referee: Howard Webb

                                               MATCH-REPORTS & RESULTS 
Shots on target: 4-6
Shots off target: 3-5
Fouls conceded: 16-19
Corners: 5-2
Yellow: 2-3





"We have some possibilities,
but I cannot say."

                Rafael Benitez

0401: Benitez tactics have started to pay off
0301: Benitez looks for quality signings
0301: Carra pleased with "tough" win
0301: Reds go fifth with win

Benitez tactics have started to pay off

By Mark Lawrenson - Daily Post

Looking at Liverpool's half-term report, I'd say that is a positive one too - although not as good as Everton's.

Given the situation and squad he inherited in the summer, Rafael Benitez has had to earn his money so far and at times he has struggled to impose his desired tactics on the team, especially away from home early on.

As the season has progressed however, they have looked better and better, even with the injury problems they have had.

Playing either 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, which I believe is the Spaniard's favourite formation - they now look capable of giving anybody a game and I believe they will push on for the fourth Champions League position.

My reason for saying this is the way he has got the team playing - aggressively and positively, with the emphasis on pressurising the opposition, with and without the ball.

Liverpool fans will tell you they have grown up watching that kind of style, but under Gerard Houllier, they stopped doing that and Anfield did not like it. Just seeing the players go after their opposite numbers lifts every supporter, especially when Liverpool continue in the same vein when they have the ball, moving it intelligently and purposefully.

One of the reasons they have been able to increase the tempo of their game has been Xabi Alonso, who can't come back quickly enough. The Spaniard looks a class player.

There haven't been as many players performing to their maximum as at Goodison Park, but the ones who have have been nothing short of brilliant.

Obviously one of them is Mr Liverpool - Steven Gerrard - who looks better and better in every game. Jamie Carragher has come into his own at centre back and Milan Baros also looks better than he has before, despite his injuries.

I would also add Benitez himself to the list of stand out performers. Given all the knocks he has had to withstand this season, with Michael Owen leaving, the injuries, the poor decisions, he has kept his focus on what he can control - motivating the players and getting the team to play how he wants.

He will now be turning that focus on to bringing in the play-ers he wants, with Fernando Morientes top of the list. Don't believe any of that nonsense about the new manager in Madrid keeping the striker. It is the chairman who buys and sells players, they're just trying to up the price.

That won't work on Benitez, who projects an air of calm, efficient achievement which I think has transmitted itself to the play-ers already. You only have to look at them to see they believe in what he is doing and where the club is going.

To me, that destination is fourth place in the Premiership and in the Champions League, who knows? As long as no-one under-estimates Leverkusen, then the stage could be set to go on to the final rounds.

* Mark Lawrenson was talking to NEIL MACDONALD

Benitez looks for quality signings

Sporting Life

Rafael Benitez admitted everyone at Liverpool is "working hard" to bring quality players such as Fernando Morientes to Anfield but insists he will not be rushed into any signings during this month's transfer window.

The Reds recovered from the disappointment of their 1-0 home defeat by Chelsea on New Year's Day by beating struggling Norwich at Carrow Road to maintain their push for a top-four finish.

With more than his fair share of injury problems - Xabi Alonso the latest to be sidelined with a broken ankle - the Spaniard knows he has to strengthen his depleted forces for the battles ahead on both domestic and European fronts this year.

However, Benitez insists any decision on new faces will be made for the right reasons, rather than just to add numbers to the Anfield ranks.

"This week were are working hard and trying to buy new players to increase the level of competition between the players but I am very happy with the squad," he declared.

"If we find some players, then OK but if we don't find [them] then we will go on with our players."

The Liverpool boss added: "We have some possibilities, but I cannot say."

Benitez's side could have done with an injection of fresh legs at Carrow Road as they - along with the hosts - looked a bit lethargic during the first half.

However, they found the net twice in quick succession after the break through Luis Garcia and John Arne Riise.

Norwich pulled a goal back with two minutes left from young striker Ryan Jarvis but it was little consolation for another home defeat which leaves them facing a struggle to keep out of the relegation zone.

"In the first half, I think both teams played almost similar. Then in the second half we controlled the game and had many chances," said Benitez.

"Only at the end, after they had scored, we could have controlled better."

He added: "It is important always to win but if you win three games in nine days, then only lose against Chelsea when playing a good game, then that means we can think about being in the top four - and that gives us more confidence.

"We have played well with different players and have have three more victories."

Liverpool were left cursing their misfortune at Anfield against Chelsea, where they looked to have strong claims for a penalty turned down following a clear handball by Tiago.

However, they were somewhat fortunate not to conceded this afternoon when, with the score at 0-0, Darren Huckerby's cross from the by-line clearly struck Jamie Carragher.

Benitez commented: "I have not seen it but if you are talking about when he went into tackle for the cross, he was very, very close to the ball.

"It is different when you see a long ball. When you are close, you do not have time."

Canaries manager Nigel Worthington was left to reflect on what might have been but had few complaints over his side's performance.

"I thought the effort and commitment from the players was first class," said the Norwich manager, who lost striker Leon McKenzie to a hamstring injury during the second half and will now be without midfielder David Bentley next week after his fifth booking of the season.

"Up until the first goal, there was nothing in it. Their opening goal was a quality finish and then after Robert Green produced a great save, they made it two.

"The players, though, never dropped their heads. We got a great goal to come back into it and might even had a penalty.

"Over the last four games we have worked very hard but with little return - but that is the Premiership."

On the handball incident with Carragher, Worthington said: "It is a fine line, but we are not going to moan and groan about it.

"Life is cruel sometimes but we will battle through. We will not have a whinge, just get on with it."

Carra pleased with "tough" win

By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website

Jamie Carragher was a relieved man after seeing Liverpool emerge with maximum points from what he described as a tough game against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Goals from Luis Garcia and John Arne Riise put the Reds two up in Norfolk before a late reply from youngster Ryan Jarvis ensure a nervous finale.

After dropping points against Chelsea on New Years Day Carragher believes it was important to bounce back positively and he was pleased to do just that.

"It was a tough game and full credit to Norwich, who put us under pressure," he said afterwards. "We were disappointed to concede a goal near the end and in doing so we made it difficult for ourselves.

"We were in control of the game after scoring our second goal but then put ourselves under pressure by giving a stupid goal away. Fortunately the lads stuck together near the end and we needed to because it was quite tough. To get the three points was very important."

Liverpool's opening goal - a delicate Luis Garcia lob over Robert Green - was a quality strike and Carragher adds: "As he hit it I think some of the Norwich fans were laughing because they thought it was going over.

"Fortunately for us it went in because at that time the game could have gone either way. It was a touch of class from Luis and it set us on our way."

Carragher admitted that some of the club's foreign players have found the festive schedule of games very demanding and insists the result was more important than the performance against the Canaries.

"There were a few tired legs out there at the end," he added. "Some of the foreign lads can't believe we play four games in such a short space of time. To be fair though, it's new to them and the most important thing today was the result, not the performance."

The win moves Liverpool to within three points of Mersey neighbours Everton and boosts their aspirations of gaining qualification to next season's Champions League via fourth place.

Carra concluded: "It's the Champions League place that we're after, not Everton. So are Middlesbrough, while Tottenham are up there now as well. It's good for us to get a result in the bag before they play this week and it puts a bit of pressure on them."

Reds go fifth with win

By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports

Liverpool climbed up to fifth spot in The Premiership table with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Norwich at Carrow Road on Monday.

Second half goals from Luis Garcia and John Arne Riise were enough to give Liverpool all three points although they were made to sweat for the victory after Ryan Jarvis pulled a goal back late on

Liverpool forced the early pressure and Simon Charlton got in a vital block on six minutes to keep out Riise's shot heading towards goal.

Norwich defender Gary Doherty had a sight of goal three minutes later when the ball dropped to him inside the box from a corner, but he sliced his shot well wide of the target.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard tried his best to lead by example and he fired in a fierce shot from long-range wide of Robert Green's goal.

Doherty had another half chance for Norwich on 19 minutes when he rose above Riise to meet Phil Mulryne's free kick, but he could not direct his header on target.

The home side almost caught Liverpool on the break on 21 minutes when Darren Huckerby burst down the left and crossed for Mattias Jonson on the right only for the Swede to hit a weak shot straight at Jerzy Dudek.

Gerrard went close to breaking the deadlock on 25 minutes when he worked a short free kick with Stephen Warnock wide on the left and hit a ferocious shot just wide of goal.

Riise had Liverpool's best chance of the half five minutes later when Craig Fleming's header fell nicely to him inside the box, but the Norwegian dragged his shot wide on his weaker right foot.

Doherty continued to look dangerous from set-pieces and close to half time he got on the end of Charlton's free kick to fire a header straight at Dudek.

Garcia had a chance right on the half time whistle when Gerrard picked him out unmarked on the edge of the area, but the Spaniard wastefully blasted his effort over the crossbar.

McKenzie had a half chance on 53 minutes when he rose highest to meet Mulryne's free kick, but his header lacked the power trouble Dudek.

Norwich had claims for a penalty turned down two minutes later by referee Howard Webb when Huckerby's cross appeared to come off the hand of Jamie Carragher.

Liverpool made the vital breakthrough on 58 minutes with Garcia latching onto Riise's superb through ball and coolly lobbing his shot over the onrushing Green into the net.

The visitors doubled their lead six minutes later when Riise slotted home into an empty net after substitute Florent Sinama Pongolle's shot was pushed out into his path by Green.

Liverpool were now enjoying themselves and Gerrard forced Green into a good save on 68 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area after good work between Garcia and Pongolle. Norwich gave themselves hope two minutes from time with substitute Ryan Jarvis pulling a goal back with his first goal of the season.

Jonson played in Jarvis wide on the right and he cut inside substitute Djimi Traore before sending a brilliant shot past Dudek, but it was too little too late for Norwich.

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Thor Zakariassen