After The Match 


PSV-Liverpool 0-0                12.09.06                                CL
Team: Reina, Finnan, Warnock, Agger, Carragher, Sissoko, Zenden, Aurelio, Pennant, Kuyt, Bellamy
Subs: Alonso (Sissoko 62), Gerrard (Bellamy 72),
Gonzalez (Aurelio 81)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia, Garcia, Crouch
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)  
Shots on target: 2-2
Shots off target: 5-8
Possession: 63.3-36.7
Fouls conceded: 4-7
Corners: 3-3
Offsides: 2-3
Yellow: 0-0


HEADLINES "I thought Bellamy and Kuyt played very well against
the Dutch."
      Tommy Smith

1309: Koeman surprised by Benitez's tinkering
1309: Vital Benitez sticks with his best line-up
1309: Clean sheet peps up Pepe
1309: Finnan: Confidence has been restored
1209: Benitez sticking with rotation
1209: Reds play out PSV stalemate 


Koeman surprised by Benitez's tinkering

By Theo Ruizenaar - Reuters

PSV Eindhoven coach Ronald Koeman said he was surprised by Liverpool's starting line-up for their Champions League Group C opener on Tuesday.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made drastic changes to the side that was beaten 3-0 by Everton in the Mersey derby on Saturday, including leaving England midfielder Steven Gerrard and striker Peter Crouch on the bench.

"We knew that Benitez makes changes but starting without Crouch, (Sami) Hyypia and Gerrard, was an enormous surprise for us," Koeman told reporters after the 0-0 stalemate.

PSV are still adjusting from the sale of target man Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink to Celtic in the transfer window and Koeman said he was pleased with the performance.

"I had the feeling my team is still improving. We had several changes last week, while you have to play super to beat Liverpool," he said. "We played with common sense and didn't take too many risks."

Hesselink's replacement, Patrick Kluivert, played no part in the game against the 2005 champions despite the former Dutch international warming up for more then 30 minutes.

"This was a match of the highest level and we knew that Patrick (Kluivert) is not completely ready," added Koeman.

"I would have used him if we fell behind or if one my strikers would be injured, but now he will be used on Sunday."

As the other match in the group between Girondins Bordeaux and Galatasaray also ended goalless, the group is still wide open. PSV face Bordeaux next when they are likely to start with Phillip Cocu and Kluivert.

"Beforehand we knew that there are no big differences in this group and the results prove that," said Koeman.

"But if you want to qualify you have to get some points away from home, so now we have to beat Galatasaray or Bordeaux in their own stadium."

Vital Benitez sticks with his best line-up

By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

Rafa Benitez was determined his side would get a point against PSV last night - and it was mission accomplished.

The Liverpool boss picked a side that had a solid back four, a midfield prepared to work hard and cut down space and two up front in Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt with pace and the ability to threaten.

So I was reasonably pleased with what we achieved. But I was extremely disappointed over the derby defeat.

Benitez got it right last night, but simply picked the wrong team against Everton on Saturday.

We needed to exploit the pace of Bellamy and Kuyt at Goodison, but by putting Peter Crouch and Robbie Fowler up front we weren't able to take the game to them. We helped them by not having someone to have a go at them, like Andy Johnson.

Last night, thank goodness, PSV did not have anyone with his sort of pace to worry us, so generally our defence did not have too many concerns.

I thought Bellamy and Kuyt played very well against the Dutch and, while Jermaine Pennant and Fabio Aurelio worked hard, perhaps Benitez could have introduced Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Mark Gonzalez a little earlier to try to snatch the points.

PSV were afraid of the pace we had up front. The Reds played quite well and looked comfortable - such a contrast to the derby when we played so badly. The Blues just took the game by the scruff of the neck and we had little answer.

But Benitez's experience in Europe ensured he and his team got it right. I'm happy with a point, although we could have nicked a winner with Gerrard's fine volley that hit the inside of the post.

If there was one criticism on selection it was that we did not have enough creativity in mid-field. Kuyt was creating things himself when he dropped back to pick up the ball.

Pennant had a lousy second half, often losing possession, while Bolo Zenden did not get into the game too much.

We still need, too, someone to start scoring regularly for us. It's certainly not happening at the moment. With the emphasis on defence it meant that neither Steve Finnan nor Steve Warnock could get forward on the overlap.

Clean sheet peps up Pepe

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Pepe Reina insists his confidence never wavered after his Goodison hell, as he recovered to keep a morale boosting clean sheet in Holland last night.

The Liverpool keeper was well protected during the dour 0-0 draw with PSV Eindhoven.

But after a traumatic weekend, Reina recognised the importance of securing the club's first shut-out of the campaign.

"It meant a lot to us last night," said the Spanish international. "We defended well and I think we may even have deserved a victory in the end.

"We played a lot better than on Saturday. We'd have preferred to win, but a point is enough.

"It was important not just for me to keep a clean sheet, but the whole team. It's better news for us.

"As a goalkeeper, I know I always have to walk the line between making a mistake and making a save.

"I made a mistake on Saturday, but I always try to forget about it quickly.

"That's harder after a derby when there are people to remind you what happened. I know it was a mistake in an important game, but you just have to keep on going.

"I have experience, and I have made mistakes before and recovered. I have belief in myself."

Liverpool now prepare for a trip to Stamford Bridge, well aware they can't afford to slip any further behind the early pacesetters.

"When you get points against the top teams, you know it can make a big difference at the end of the season, because it'snot only three points for you, but three less for them," said Reina.

"We know we will have to defend as well as last night. I don't know if it's a good or bad time for us to be playing them, but we know in these kinds of games,it'svital we make no more mistakes."

Finnan: Confidence has been restored

By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website

Steve Finnan believes Liverpool's battered confidence has been restored following the creditable Champions League draw in Holland on Tuesday night.

The Reds went into the clash with PSV Eindhoven reeling from their heaviest derby defeat since the sixties but, with a trip to Stamford Bridge looming on Sunday, Finnan insists that catastrophic result is now out of their system.

“It was good to get that weekend derby defeat our system and I think confidence has now been restored, which is important seeing as we’ve got a big game at Chelsea to come next,” says Finnan.

“It had been a difficult few days for us after losing the derby but a lot of the criticism after Saturday was a bit over the top. We don’t just turn into a bad side overnight and I think we proved that against a very strong PSV side.

“It was probably a fair result in the end but I think we played quite well and could have won it with a bit more luck in front of goal.

“They came at us more in the second half and had a lot of the ball but overall I don’t think there could have been too many complaints if Stevie’s shot had gone in at the end.

“Hopefully, we can now kick on in the Premiership and although we haven’t won at Stamford Bridge for a few years we don’t fear going there.

“There’ll obviously be a lot of hype surrounding the game because we’ve met in so many high profile encounters in recent seasons but this one can’t be labelled a make-or-break game for our league season. It’s far too early for that.”

Benitez sticking with rotation

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Rafa Benitez says he will continue to rotate his squad to ensure his players are at 100 percent with the number of crucial games coming thick and fast for Liverpool.

The Reds suffered derby defeat at Everton on Saturday and then travelled to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League just three days later.

With a trip to Premiership champions Chelsea coming up on Sunday, Benitez made six changes from the side at Goodison for the game in Eindhoven.

Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch, Sami Hyypia and skipper Steven Gerrard were all left on the bench for the 0-0 draw with PSV, and Benitez says he will continue to stick to his rotation policy.

"Steven was on the bench as were several other senior players, Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch, Sami Hyypia, but people only mention Gerrard," said Benitez.

"We must accept that nobody can play at 100% for every match, it was a very difficult game against Everton and you can see that the players who were involved for all that game were on the bench.

"If you are not 100% fit and ready then you will be rested like that. It will happen to different players."

Liverpool were a lot more solid against PSV as they secured a first clean sheet of the season, and Gerrard could have grabbed the win as he struck a post with a fine volley after coming off the bench.

"He came on at the right time," added Benitez.

"We had needed to cover and work to stop their penetrating passes and that is why Momo Sissoko started.

"He has fantastic stamina, better than Alonso or Gerrard can reach.

"Now we have more options and we can use players in this way.

"We were intent on a clean sheet after that happened on Saturday, and we defended well and created enough chances to have won the match."

Reds play out PSV stalemate

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

A much-changed Liverpool side produced a solid if unspectacular performance in a goalless draw at PSV Eindhoven in their opening UEFA Champions League group match.

Rafa Benitez rung the changes after their derby defeat at the weekend, with Sami Hyypia, Xabi Alonso and even skipper Steven Gerrard starting on the bench.

An organised and disciplined Liverpool side were relatively comfortable throughout the game, apart from Aruna Kone's early strike against the bar.

Dirk Kuyt starred with a tireless performance up front and at times his partnership with Craig Bellamy showed signs of blossoming, while substitute Gerrard nearly won it for The Reds when he volleyed against the post late on.

Liverpool started competently enough but PSV had the first chance inside ten minutes after Momo Sissoko lost the ball just inside the opposition's half and Aruna Kone went on a 60-yard run before unleashing a vicious left-footer that rattled Pepe Reina's crossbar.

Fabio Aurelio dragged his shot wide of the far post after a sweeping Liverpool move saw him arrive at pace on the left-hand side of the box.

Reina that had a confidence-boosting save to make as Ibrahim Afellay lashed a powerful drive towards goal that the Spaniard had to move quickly to keep out.

Liverpool began to grow into the game and Bolo Zenden fizzed a shot a foot wide of the post before Craig Bellamy wriggled inside the box before his left-foot shot went wide.

Bellamy and Kuyt's partnership was starting to look promising up front with only the final ball and Bellamy's reluctance to shoot at times spoiling the end product.

Former Liverpool man Jan Kromkamp helped his old club out when he lost the ball allowing a swift counter attack that got Dirk Kuyt in the clear, only for Carlos Salcido to make up a huge amount of ground to get in a last-ditch block on his shot.

Jermaine Pennant's first real attacking involvement in the game came ten minutes into the second half when he forced Gomes into a low save after cutting in from the left and firing in a low shot.

PSV tried to raise the tempo around the hour mark though and Edison Mendez slipped Kone in behind the Liverpool defence but he tried to shoot with his right foot after coming from the left and his weak effort was easily saved by Reina.

Mendez blasted a superb 30-yarder that flew just wide of the diving Reina moments later, while the impressive Kuyt responded with a bullish turn fearsome strike that was even closer to the post with Gomes beaten.

Gerrard eventually entered the fray with 20 minutes left but PSV had the next chance as Mendez was allowed to forage forward before curling one just over the bar.

Steve Finnan had to get a desperate foot-in on Kone as he nearly wriggled clean through from the edge of the box, but PSV were hardly throwing everything in search of the victory.

Liverpool nearly stole it two minutes from time when Gerrard swivelled to steer an instinctive volley goalwards and Gomes was beaten all ends up before the inside of the post rescued him, and PSV.

The hosts did not try and pile forward for the win and the game ended in a scoreless draw which both sides seemed happy to take.

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Thor Zakariassen ©