in race to face Liege
By Jimmy Rice in Norway - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard faces a race against time
to be ready for next week's Champions League qualifier
against Standard Liege after limping out of the 4-1 friendly
win over Valerenga with a thigh strain.
Boss Rafa Benitez is hopeful his skipper will be fit for the
trip to Belgium next midweek, though an early diagnosis of
seven days on the sidelines means it is a close call.
"It is a thigh strain. We need to wait but it could be one
week," the Spaniard told Liverpoolfc.tv.
Despite the worry over his captain, Benitez revealed his
starting XI in next week's third qualifying round is likely
to be similar to that which took to the pitch in Norway on
"It is closer to the team for next week," he said. "We have
some players at the Olympic Games, so we used some young
players and they showed quality. But maybe we will see the
majority of the players we used in the first half."
The 4-1 victory over Valerenga, a side 16 games into their
domestic season, was secured thanks to goals from Fernando
Torres, Xabi Alonso, David Ngog and Yossi Benayoun.
The Reds have now plundered eight goals in their past two
friendlies – though Benitez is confident there is even more
He explained: "Yes, it was another good work-out. It was a
good game, with four goals for us and good play.
"But the players aren't 100 per cent yet – that would be
difficult right now. The other team were fitter than us but
you could see we were passing, pressing and the
understanding between the players was better. I am really
pleased with the result.
"Normally when you have quality, when you are playing well
and creating chances, you will score goals."
On Ngog, who now has two goals in three appearances since
signing from Paris Saint Germain, the Anfield boss added:
"Like I have said before, we are really pleased with our
scout department. They are finding players like Ngog,
players with quality who are not a high price. There's also
Dani Pacheco, Krisztian Nemeth and Nabil El Zhar, who has
Torres and co now head back to Merseyside ahead of their
final pre-season friendly against Lazio on Friday – and
Benitez claims they will do so carrying fond memories of
their Scandinavian jaunt.
"It was amazing and it was a surprise for us to see so many
people in a red shirt. The support for the team here is
really good," he said.
Reds ease to victory in Oslo
By Gareth Maher - Setanta Sports
Liverpool collected another pre-season
triumph after they beat Valerenga 4-1 in Oslo on Tuesday,
although an injury to Steven Gerrard took the shine off the
Xabi Alonso opened the scoring on 20 minutes, but the hosts
did hit back through after the break when Bojan Zagic fired
in before Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun, and David Ngog
sealed the win.
The injury to Gerrard didn't look that serious as he walked
off the pitch. However, the Reds medical staff will have to
closely monitor the situation with the new season rapidly
Rafa Benitez named a strong team to start the game and there
were impressive performances from Alonso and Robbie Keane in
a match that stayed in second gear throughout.
There were plenty of chances in the first period with
Torres, Alonso, and Gerrard all trying their luck before the
Spanish midfielder broke the deadlock with a curling effort
that was set-up by a deft flick from Keane.
Zagic then attempted to rouse the home supporters, who
appeared to be out-numbered by Liverpool fans, but his two
shots failed to test Diego Cavalieri.
He didn't have to wait long for his goal though as he took
full advantage of slack Liverpool defending on 48 minutes to
fire in past Pepe Reina, who came on at half-time.
It took The Reds less than a minute to register a response
with Torres taking control by charging straight at the
Norweigan side's defence and slotting a left-footed effort
into the back of the net.
On the hour mark, it was all over when Benayoun used some
clever footwork to get away from two opposing players and
then pushing the ball wide before lobbing a hapless keeper.
The tempo dropped considerably after that as Benitez brought
on numerous youngsters - one of which was recent signing
Ngog, who wasted no time in getting his second goal for the
The former Paris Saint Germain forward managed to squeeze in
behind the Valerenga defence and took his time to fire in a
low left-footed shot to finish the game on a high.