After The Match 


Liverpool-Burnley  4-0 (2-0)           12.9.09                         PL
Goals: Benayoun (27, 61, 81), Kuyt (41)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Lucas, Gerrard, Riera, Benayoun, Kuyt, Torres
Subs: Degen (Johnson 64), Voronin (Kuyt 69), Ngog (Torres 75)
Not used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Spearing, Kyrgiakos
Yellow: Jordan (56), Eagles (84)
Red: None
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 43,817


Shots on target: 15-3
Shots off target: 10-3
Blocked shots: 3-1
Fouls conceded: 8-11
Corners: 7-5
Offsides: 4-3
Possession: 61-39
Yellow: 0-2

HEADLINES "...his movement was fantastic for the team".
on Benayoun
1409: Steven Gerrard midfield move
          may unlock Premiership for Liverpool FC

1309: Benitez hits back at Carra critics
1309: Benayoun: It was a perfect day
1209: Rafa: Yossi is an example to others
1209: Yossi hits hat-trick in Reds romp

Yossi Benayoun - the hat-trick man. (Photo: AFP)

Steven Gerrard midfield move
may unlock Premiership for Liverpool FC

Comment by Nick Peet - Liverpool Echo

While Javier Mascherano’s failure to board a plane back from international duty with Argentina may have forced Rafa Benitez’s hand in reverting Steven Gerrard back to his more traditional central midfield role, it may also have inadvertently unlocked the key to Liverpool’s title push.

The Reds dropped far too many points at home against teams from the bottom half of the table last season and ultimately this proved to be the club’s stumbling block in their fight for the title.

Home draws against Stoke City, Fulham, West Ham and Hull cost the Reds eight points as they failed to conquer sides content with putting 11 men behind the ball on trips to Anfield.

However, Saturday’s 4-0 demolition of Premier League new boys Burnley was orchestrated by Gerrard who was given the freedom of the park playing in the spaces in front of anchorman Lucas.

Had Mascherano, who was unable to fly back as scheduled due to a problem with his pelvis, been available it’s likely Benitez would of stayed loyal to his preferred system of playing the two South Americans in the centre of midfield and Gerrard up top alongside Fernando Torres.

But while that system has proven profitable against clubs fighting for Europe and also in the Champions League, when teams come simply to defend the Reds require a little more invention in the middle of the park.

Both Mascherano and Lucas are international midfielders buoyed down with qualities in almost every area although perhaps both are a little lacking in creativity.

Lucas has enjoyed a tremendous start to the new campaign and is growing in confidence and stature with every performance.

But he’s a young man who’s own game appears to be going through a positive transition right now.

Benitez is converting the Brazilian into an all round midfielder and forcing him out of his comfort zone as one traditionally best suited to simply guarding the back four.

It’s no coincidence Lucas’ best game of the season so far on Saturday was when he was deployed specifically in the anchorman role.

It is vital for Benitez against sides with no more ambition than to concede as few goals as possible at Anfield to select a player capable of taking control of these game with the ball at his feet and his head in the air.

Xabi Alonso performed that role for the Reds last season and, when he’s eventually available, perhaps Alberto Aquilani will perform in it going forward.

But Benitez already has arguably the best playmaker midfielder in the world wearing the captain’s armband.

In deploying Gerrard back in the centre on Saturday he handed the skipper an access all areas pass to simply pick Burnley apart.

Gerrard was given the freedom to really express himself and orchestrate the play from midfield.

After his return to form in helping England qualify for next summer’s World Cup finals in midweek the Reds skipper was clearly champing at the bit to really get Liverpool’s title challenge up and running.

It’s been a relatively slow start to the new campaign for both Gerrard and Torres and so firing four past The Clarets will have given both a big lift, even if Torres failed to add his fourth goal in successive games.

Gerrard was cruelly denied the goal his game deserved against Burnley when he fired against the post in front of the Kop.

But in what looks like a decent run of fixtures coming up, where points could easily be collected, perhaps retaining Gerrard in the middle of the park is the key to keeping the goals tally ticking.

The in-form Yossi Benayoun clearly revelled in being given a much more significant attacking role and has to be the first name on the teamsheet right now.

While Dirk Kuyt’s tireless running style left doors open across the Burnley back line which allowed full-backs Glen Johnson and Emiliano Insua to penetrate on the overlap.

Even Albert Reira was spoilt for options cutting in from the left flank as Gerrard spread the play one way then the next.

Debrecen will undoubtedly attempt to apply the same tactics as Burnley when they arrive on Merseyside for Wednesday night’s Champions League clash.

But Saturday’s free-flowing display proved once again with Gerrard holding the keychain he has the ability to unlock all the doors, both at home and in Europe.

Benitez hits back
at Carra critics

Sporting Life

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has hit back at critics who have targeted Jamie Carragher.

The Reds have made a stuttering start to the new Premier League season, losing 2-1 to Tottenham on the opening weekend and slipping up at home to Aston Villa.

They have conceded seven goals in five games but Benitez believes it is unfair for the defenders to be blamed for poor performances.

Carragher has been singled out by some pundits who have suggested the 31-year-old no longer has the pace and fitness to perform as consistently as he has in the past.

However, Benitez has no such doubts and maintains that Carragher will continue to play a key role this term.

"When the team hasn't done well it is the defenders who take the rap," Benitez said in the Daily Star Sunday.

"When you are losing, they will get criticised more than the strikers.

"Jamie is still a top player. He's training as always. He's fit and quick and he will always be the same.

"He's a professional who has taken care of himself, so I don't see him slowing down quickly."

Benitez accepts that Carragher has perhaps had to shoulder too much of the responsibility in terms of making the team a cohesive unit and he has called on other players to do more.

"It depends now on the team. If they help the defenders it will be easy for the defenders to play well," he explained.

"It's more difficult for Carragher because he's been playing with a lot of team-mates.

"He likes to talk but the other players around him are important too. If he doesn't need to be talking much it's easier for him to focus on his own game."

Benayoun: It was a perfect day

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

Yossi Benayoun believes his match-winning display in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Burnley was his best in a red shirt.

The Israeli star netted a superb hat-trick to lead Rafael Benitez's men to their third win of the new campaign and later admitted it was the highlight of his Reds career so far.

"It was a good day for me and it was great to score three goals," he said. "But the most important thing is the three points. We played a lot of good football at times and won the match - that is more important to me than scoring goals."

With Javier Mascherano out injured, Benayoun was given a more offensive role just off the striker, a position he feels brought out the best in him.

"I started on the right but Rafa told me to move around and try and get in between the lines," he said. "Every time I did that I found space so I could turn and go forward.

"I was lucky because the rest of the team provided me with good passes to score.

"It was the perfect day for me."

The win over Owen Coyle's side means Liverpool have now won back-to-back Barclays Premier League matches for the first time this season.
Benayoun acknowledges that the Reds were not at their best during the opening month of the season but is hopeful they are now back on the right track.

"We didn't start the season too well," he said. "We didn't expect to lose two matches so early on, but I think the international break came at the right time for us.

"We came back stronger and hopefully we will now go on a winning run and boost our confidence even more."

Asked what he thought about those who have already written off Liverpool's title chances, he added: "Maybe it's better for us.

"There will be less pressure. We can build our confidence slowly and when we win games like this, I think everyone can see we have the quality to be up there in the race.

"We need to take it a game at a time and hopefully at the end of the season we will be up there."

Rafa: Yossi is an example to others

By Jimmy Rice at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez labelled Yossi Benayoun an example to the rest of his squad after the Israeli struck a hat-trick to sink Burnley on Saturday.

Dirk Kuyt was the other scorer in a deserved 4-0 win - but it was Benayoun who Benitez singled out as an example of how those on the fringes can go on to play a crucial role.

The No.15 spent the first half of last season on the peripheries but is now a central figure at Anfield.

Benitez said: "We know he's a player with quality. We have seen how good he is coming from the bench and we were talking about whether he could start or not.

"Today he was very, very good and his movement was fantastic for the team.

"During the internationals I was talking with some players about how they could change things, and it was just to work hard.

"Yossi was away but he wanted to play, and when a player wants to play it's very easy: you have to prove these things in every training session and in a game if you get the opportunity.

"Yossi is someone with experience and he knows the best way to fight for your position is doing something well on the pitch."

Despite Benayoun walking away with the match ball, Benitez believes another player was key to the 4-0 victory.

"Lucas supported and managed in the middle and kept everyone else going forward," said the Spaniard.

"For me he was the key player today. We can talk about Yossi but it was thanks to Lucas. One thing everyone told me when I came here was that if you work hard the fans are with you.

"They could see again today that Lucas is a worker who has quality. He can challenge in the air, tackle and pass the ball.

"He worked so hard in different positions and allowed the other players more freedom. For me he was a very important player for us today."

On why Javier Mascherano was not in the squad, Benitez revealed the midfielder was still in South America after representing Argentina this week.

He explained: "Mascherano was not available. He still hasn't arrived. He is coming back on Sunday. He had some problems, and our doctor was talking to their doctor.

"Now I think he's okay but he's coming back later because he had to do some tests over there.

"Don't be worried, it's not serious!"

Yossi hits hat-trick in Reds romp


Liverpool's season is firmly back on track after Yossi Benayoun netted a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-0 Premier League home win over Burnley.

The top-flight new boys had started the season so well with wins over Manchester United and Everton but have now suffered successive defeats at Chelsea and now Liverpool - conceding seven in the process.

They could not live with a vibrant Liverpool, who kept up an impressive high tempo throughout and are slowly wiping away the memory of those two early league defeats to Tottenham and Aston Villa.

Benayoun scored his first from the edge of the box, and saw his shot parried by the overworked Brian Jensen for Dirk Kuyt to add the second before the break.

Steven Gerrard's pass set up Benayoun for his second, a close-range tap-in, before the Israeli was sent clear by substitute Andriy Voronin for his third and Liverpool's fourth.

Rafael Benitez made two changes from the side which won at Bolton a fortnight ago, with Martin Skrtel returning to central defence in place of Greece international Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

With Javier Mascherano suffering a muscle injury while on international duty with Argentina and not arriving back until late Friday, Benayoun came into the side.

And what a tremendous impact he made, with a goal and a display of running power that Burnley never came to terms with.

The Clarets, in their first league visit to Anfield for 33 years, retained the side that lost at Chelsea last time out, with new loan signing David Nugent - a former Liverpool trainee - on the bench.

The absence of Mascherano meant that Steven Gerrard played in a much deeper role, alongside Lucas in the centre of midfield, with Benayoun and Kuyt left to play just behind Fernando Torres.

Burnley started brightly with Martin Paterson firing wide from the edge of the box, while Kuyt produced a low shot at the other end that produced the first of many saves by Jensen.

Liverpool slowly built up possession, moving the ball quickly and Torres saw a curling 20-yard shot clear the far post.

But Burnley had Steven Fletcher and Paterson interchanging positions up front and the visitors were quick and dangerous on the break.

Liverpool's best early chance came when Emiliano Insua's chip was headed a foot wide by Benayoun, the beginning of a purple patch from the 29-year-old.

The lively Israel captain broke the deadlock with a gem of a goal after 27 minutes.

He surged from midfield, turned away from Graham Alexander and moved into the box to fire across Jensen and into the bottom corner.

Benayoun almost added another a minute later when he met Albert Riera's cross with a low header that Jensen blocked, the Burnley goalkeeper also keeping out Kuyt's follow-up.

Jensen had to keep out drives from Benayoun and Lucas before Paterson forced his way past Gerrard to unleash a rising drive that was held by Jose Reina.

But Liverpool went further ahead after 40 minutes with a dynamic five-man break from defence.

Torres and Insua combined to set up Benayoun for a 20-yard shot that Jensen blocked, but only as far as Kuyt who clipped home from five yards.

The increasingly busy Jensen had to produce the save of the half to keep out a Gerrard 20-yard drive before the break.

Liverpool kept up their assault after the interval with Riera seeing two efforts blocked while Jensen saved from a Kuyt flick.

Stephen Jordan was booked for a block on Torres before Burnley sent on Chris Eagles to replace Robbie Blake.

Torres was starting to stretch a tiring Burnley defence by now and only Tyrone Mears' fine saving tackle stopped the Spaniard in full flow.

But after 61 minutes Torres' pass played in a fiercely determined Gerrard, who battered his way past two men in the box to find Benayoun on the far post for a tap-in.

Liverpool sent on Swiss defender Philipp Degen for Glen Johnson and Voronin for the hard-running Kuyt, the game well won by now, and Burnley responded by giving Nugent his debut for Paterson.

Benayoun had an effort ruled out for offside and Gerrard forced his way through again to hit a post, before David Ngog took over from Torres.

There was still time for Benayoun to secure his hat-trick after 81 minutes. Voronin's pass sent him clear in the box - played onside by Jordan - and he side-footed the ball past an exposed Jensen.

Eagles was booked for a foul on Benayoun, Jensen saved again from Gerrard and Voronin missed when clear, with Burnley just wanting it all to end.

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