After The Match 


Aston Villa-Liverpool 0-2 (0-0)          05.11..05                    PL
Goals: Gerrard (84 pen), Alonso (89)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Luis Garcia, Morientes, Cisse
Subs: Zenden (Garcia 57), Crouch (Morientes 69),
Kewell (Cisse 76)
Not used: Dudek, Warnock
Yellow: Sissoko (25), Alonso (80)      Barry (13), McCann (24)
Red: None
Referee: Steve Bennett
Attendance: 42,551
Shots on target: 1-7
Shots off target: 4-4
Possession: 47-53
Fouls conceded: 16-13
Corners: 3-5
Yellow: 2-2



HEADLINES "This win should give us a lot of confidence now."
  Jamie Carragher

0711: Crouch shock at boo boys
0511: Rafa has no grouch with Crouch
0511: O'Leary blasts the ref
0511: Carra thrilled with victory at Villa
0511: Late goals gave Reds the victory


Crouch shock at boo boys

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Peter Crouch today admitted he's been stunned by the negative reaction since his transfer to Anfield, but thanked the Liverpool fans for not jumping on the boo-boy bandwagon.

The 7m striker has been the target for continued abuse outside Merseyside, but proved his value with a pivotal contribution to the Reds' weekend win at Aston Villa.

Crouch traces the criticism back to the recent England international against Austria.

But the forward says it's the support he's received from The Kop which has kept his confidence and spirit intact.

"Everyone seems to be willing me to get that first goal and the fans here have been so great with me since I joined. I'm taking confidence from that," said Crouch.

"I'm desperate to score and I'm certain it's going to come soon. I'm sure of it, so long as I keep working hard and getting in the right positions.

"I've not been unduly affected by the criticism because of our fans' support. It has taken me aback just how negative other people have been. I suppose that's what happens if you don't get on the scoresheet and I'm learning that when you join a high profile club you become an instant target.

"Things are scrutinised a lot more here, but as long as I'm doing a job which the manager, my team-mates and the fans are happy with, I won't let it get me down.

"Maybe the criticism built up after the England game, but I'm not really interested what anyone outside Liverpool thinks now. Nobody here has a problem with me, so everyone else can say what they like."

Crouch turned the game Liverpool's way as a late sub in the Midlands, although he was cursing the opportunities which went begging.

"I was gutted I couldn't get that first goal on Saturday because I had the chances," he said.

"I was delighted Xabi finished off the second, but I must admit I wanted it to be me celebrating a goal. I'm glad I played a part in the win, but obviously I'd have loved to have scored when I had the chance.

"I thought I had it just before the second, but it was a great block by Mellberg. I'm not sure how he got there, but it just seems to be the way it's going for me at the moment."

The game's controversial moment was the foul by Liam Ridgewell on Crouch, which allowed Steven Gerrard to convert the crucial penalty.

"When you come on you need to make an impact and I felt I did that," added Crouch.

"It took a big decision from the referee to swing the game our way, but I thought it was deserved.

"For me, it was the kind of decision which can go either way. I thought he had his hands on me as I was going for the header. I don't go down without contact and I was pulled to the ground by him, so it was a penalty as far as I was concerned."

Rafa has no grouch with Crouch

Sporting Life

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised the contribution of goal-shy striker Peter Crouch after he won a controversial penalty in his side's 2-0 win at Aston Villa.

Crouch was adjudged by referee Steve Bennett to have been fouled by his former Villa team-mate Liam Ridgewell five minutes from time and Steven Gerrard made no mistake with the spot-kick.

A 20-yard drive from Xabi Alonso wrapped up Liverpool's first away league win of the campaign and left Villa in relegation trouble with just one win in their last 13 matches.

Before the penalty incident Crouch had missed a gilt-edged opportunity and he has still to find the net in 14 appearances since his 7million summer move from Southampton.

But Benitez remains positive about the England player, who caused Villa problems in the air after his introduction as a second-half substitute.

Benitez said: "People keep asking me about Peter's failure to score but I say many times that if he plays well and we win, it is enough.

"He has done a very good job for us and definitely gives us more options and alternatives in attack.

"Of course, he will be more confident if he scores but if he plays as well as he did against Villa then I will be happy.

"When he came on he created problems for the Villa centre-backs and, along with the other substitutes Bolo Zenden and Harry Kewell, gave us the energy that we needed."

Benitez insisted referee Bennett had been correct in his assessment of the penalty incident as Liverpool won away from home in a match immediately after a European tie for the first time in two years.

Benitez said: "As manager of Liverpool you have to say it is a penalty but I have seen it on television again and I think it was penalty.

"As for winning away from home, we wanted to change the statistics.

"We have won away after a Champions League game, kept a clean sheet, scored two goals, played well, controlled the game and created opportunities. As a manager, you must be delighted."

O'Leary blasts the ref

Sporting Life

Villa manager David O'Leary was incensed by the penalty award and initially claimed on television: "The referee couldn't wait to give certain decisions in favour of Liverpool's big players."

O'Leary was not as scathing when pushed on his remarks in the press conference with the written media but he was still far from happy with Bennett.

He said: "I am not happy with the penalty. It was a bad decision. End of story.

"You are going to have 100 penalties every game if you award them for those type of challenges.

"There is no doubt the penalty changed the game. Up until then I thought it was a better performance defensively from us.

"We have had problems in that area all season but we played with a higher line defensively and were better because of that."

However, O'Leary knows his side have to improve their current sequence of results and he called on his players to reproduce the kind of run they put together when in a similar position two years ago.

On that occasion Villa slipped into the bottom three at the start of December before a 3-2 win over Wolves sparked a revival which saw them only miss out to Newcastle on goal difference for a European spot.

O'Leary said: "You have got to be concerned but two years ago we stayed together, kept our belief and finished sixth.

"Eighty per cent of our squad is still the same and we need that same sort of belief to be shown by the players now."

Carra thrilled with victory at Villa

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Jamie Carragher is hoping this afternoon's deserved victory at Aston Villa will be the start of an improved run of results on the road for the Reds.

Late goals from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso secured the three points for Liverpool, who climbed four places up the table on the back of the hard fought victory in the Midlands.

"We know it's important to start doing better away," said Carragher, who was named man of the match.

"We've been a bit frustrated away from home this season. Today we scored two goals and didn't concede so that's an improvement. In other games this season we either haven't scored or, when we have, we've only come away with a point.

"This win should give us a lot of confidence now. The main thing was to get the three points and I think we deserved them."

Captain Steven Gerrard was also delighted with the victory as Liverpool broke their miserable record of not winning in the league immediately after a European game.

"When I was stepping up to take the penalty I was just thinking about the three points," said Gerrard.

"We've improved on the road this season without getting the results, but this is a step in the right direction for us. It's nice to get the three points."

Late goals gave Reds the victory

BBC Sport Online

Late goals from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso gave Rafael Benitez's side their first back-to-back Premiership victories of the season.

Gerrard calmly slotted home a penalty on 85 minutes after substitute Peter Crouch was fouled by Liam Ridgewell.

Four minutes later, Xabi Alonso cracked in a shot that Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen probably should have kept out.

Prior to his fumble, Sorensen had kept Liverpool at bay, making notable saves from Djibril Cisse and Gerrard.

Prior to those late goals the game had looked to be heading for a draw, because of a combination of Sorensen's goalkeeping and Liverpool's indifferent finishing.

Just before winning the penalty Crouch missed the game's best chance with a poorly-placed header, while Cisse and Fernando Morientes had subdued matches.

Villa were just as indifferent in attack and Milan Baros had a quiet game against his old club.

Baros was superbly tackled by Jamie Carragher in the first half, while he was robbed of the ball by Alonso on 67 minutes when in a good position.

Liverpool have struggled badly for goals this season in the Premiership and in the first-half there was plenty of evidence of their misfiring attack.

Despite starting in the centre, Cisse was quickly instructed to play on the right wing, a position he looked clearly uncomfortable in.

Morientes looked just as out of sorts and he managed just one shot in the entire game, an effort comfortably saved by Sorensen.

Midway through the second half the Spaniard was replaced by former Villa striker Crouch.

The England striker quickly made his presence felt, picking out Gerrard, whose rasping shot was saved by Sorensen.

Liverpool fans will be wondering quite why it took them 85 minutes to find a way past Sorensen.

Early on, after an elaborate Liverpool move the ball arrived at Luis Garcia's feet, the Spaniard turned quickly and sent in a shot that went narrowly wide.

Cisse was the next to probe Villa's defence, slipping the ball to Gerrard, whose cross was blocked by Ridgewell.

Having weathered that early storm Villa came back into the game.

Baros was stopped in his tracks by a well-timed Carragher tackle, while Kevin Phillips flashed a header past the post.

The best chance of the first half fell to Cisse when Gerrard's raking pass released the Frenchman.

Cisse quickly controlled the ball but his shot was well saved by Sorensen.

The Frenchman made amends for his miss when he robbed Gareth Barry of possession only for his cross to elude Morientes and Garcia.

Finally, with five minutes to go, Crouch and Ridgewell tangled in the box and to the Villa defender's disbelief, referee Steve Bennett awarded the penalty.

Four minutes later the ball broke to Alonso on the edge of the box and the Spanish midfielder's swerving shot found its way past Sorensen.

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Thor Zakariassen