Morientes congratulates Mr. Hat-Trick - Steven
Gerrard. (Photo: AP)
running out for goal-shy Mori
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Liverpool satisfied a remarkable capacity crowd at
Anfield on Wednesday by kicking off their new campaign
the way they ended the last one.
But worryingly - so did Fernando Morientes. And his
performance wasn't so satisfying.
While the Reds scored three times in a Champions League
clash to begin their defence of the trophy, the Spanish
striker drew another Anfield blank.
Now it would be absurdly harsh to criticise a striker
for fluffing a few chances in a glorified pre-season
friendly, less than a fortnight after reporting back for
But after six months of largely goal-free activity at
Anfield, Morientes does not have time on his side - and
the early weeks of this season could be crucial for his
long-term Liverpool livelihood.
He arrived at Anfield last January with the reputation
of a man who had just finished top scorer in the
Champions League the season before.
But if Real Madrid rued letting him join Monaco on loan
and fire the French club to the Champions League final,
he did nothing on his return to suggest their decision
had been premature.
That's literally nothing. Absolutely nothing. No goals
In 16 appearances - admittedly many as substitute - he
failed to score a single goal. Real are not exactly
quick at offloading stars past their prime . . .
Ronaldo, Beckham, Zidane and Roberto Carlos are all
shadows of their former selves, yet all still playing
regularly at the Bernabeu.
Morientes, however, was offloaded sharpish. Which makes
me wonder why?
The two beauties he flashed into the Fulham and the
Charlton nets soon after arriving at Anfield were false
In a further 10 matches he managed just one more goal -
and worse, rarely looked like scoring.
Pre-season is all about fitness and sharpness, and
Morientes has the best part of a month to find both. But
added to that, he could do with a healthy injection of
The good news from Wednesday is that at least he found
himself on the end of three clear-cut chances. He didn't
finish any of them, but he has to hope the goals flow
Because with Peter Crouch hovering about as effectively
as a six feet seven inch striker can, with Djibril Cisse
raring to go after his injury heartache and with Milan
Baros refusing to go quietly, Rafa Benitez has other
options available. And that's without considering the
currently injured Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama
Pongolle, or Anthony Le Tallec.
Fernando Morientes is currently the man in possession.
But once the season proper gets underway, he must start
producing - and quickly.
Gerrard: I had
nothing to prove
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored all the goals
in his club's 3-0 Champions League first round, first
leg victory over Total Network Solutions - and then
insisted he had not needed to prove a point to the fans.
Last week Gerrard had said he wanted to leave Liverpool,
alienating some fans, before changing his mind and
signing a new deal.
"I didnít want to get into that situation, I wanted to
sign a contract after the [European] Cup final," said
"But now that trouble is behind me and the fans reacted
He added: "I am pleased about that and I am proud to
carry on as captain of Liverpool Football Club.
"I donít think I had to prove anything [to the fans] but
I have to keep proving things to myself as I want to be
The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, praised Gerrardís
"We said before he was a good player for us," said
"He scored three goals, he played well, he is our
captain and we always said we wanted to build a team
Liverpool endured a frustrating second half as they
sought to get more goals in the bank ahead of the return
leg. But Gerrardís third goal a minute before time gave
him a hat-trick and his team a comfortable if not
Benitez added: "We shot many times, we crossed many
times but at the end they were well organised and it was
difficult to find space."
He will now take his squad to a training camp in
Switzerland before the second leg on 19 July.
"Maybe we can switch some players (in the second leg)
but the most important thing is to see if our players
are fit or not," said Benitez.
"We will train hard in the week, we will wait to see."
By Patrick Goss - Sky Sports
European champions Liverpool started the defence of
their title with an underwhelming 3-0 win against Welsh
Champions Total Network Solutions, and somewhat
inevitably it was Steven Gerrard to the fore as the
captain bagged a hat-trick.
After declaring that he would leave Anfield, and then
changing his mind, Gerrard showed no sign of
relinquishing his grasp of the summer headlines -
slotting home after just seven minutes as The Reds
failed to run up the rugby score that some had
There was a sense of inevitability when John Arne Riise
cut inside ominously and fired a low ball across the
Anthony Le Tallec and Fernando Morientes took touches,
but it was captain Steven Gerrard - buoyed by the very
voices that had been left angered by his decision to go
and mollified by his about turn - that was in the right
place to slot neatly home for the opener.
It should have been two six minutes later; Gerrard clean
through but not quite capable of beating Ged Doherty and
Morientes surprised by the goalkeeper's spritely
recovery to clear the rebound off his feet.
If the Spaniard was under any illusion that he was in
what amounted to a pre-season match, an awful challenge
by Phil Baker reminded him that the
Liverpudlian-dominated TNS side were not merely awaiting
the chance of a post-match souvenir when shirts were
Mike Wilde was given a chance to warm debutant Jose
Reina's hands when Xabi Alonso clumsily presented him
with the ball, and Morientes gave a note of warning with
a header that was only narrowly over.
Seconds later and the second goal finally came, Gerrard
again on hand to canter clear of the defence before
calmly lobbing Doherty to double their advantage.
The TNS keeper produced another fine reaction save when
a mis-hit Riise shot was headed towards goal by Le
Tallec, and denied Morientes for a second time as he was
put clean through with a flowing move.
Two goals was never likely to appease a crowd hungry for
goals after the summer lay-off - however truncated it
may have been - and the slow start to the second half
did not help.
Bolo Zenden was handed his competitive debut to try to
mix things up but it failed to fire Liverpool, and only
the arrival of Djibril Cisse finally brought some bite.
The French striker was given a wide role and immediately
injected pace, unlucky not to keep the ball in when his
cut-back for Le Tallec was converted.
Morientes had two quickfire chances, denied by a fine
challenge from Michael Jackson for the first and not
finding the target with the second - but the final word
belonged to Gerrard - already worming his way back into
the affections of a Liverpool faithful that may not
tolerate another summer such as this.
The captain was given far too much space and, with the
crowd already rising to celebrate, dispatched a low
drive accurately into the left hand corner to seal his
They may not be dancing on the streets of Total Network
Solutions after this defeat, but they gave a good
account of themselves and once more the Kop were left
saluting a player that can quickly become their hero