Hat-trick Milan celebrates at Anfield. (Photo:
bear the Reds' burden
Analysis By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Milan Baros performed like a man
making up for lost time.
Which is exactly what he was doing for 92 fascinating
minutes at Anfield on Saturday.
Like a man handed an unexpected 15-game opportunity to
impress a hitherto sceptical manager, but who had seen
two of those games already whipped away by injury.
Baros' season so far can be neatly pegged into two eras:
There's Baros BC, Before Cisse sustained his cruel
break; and AD, After Djibril suffered his awful
Left out of the starting line-up on five occasions BC,
substituted in a further five, it was fair to say that
Rafael Benitez still hadn't decided on whether Baros
could be an integral part of a regular Liverpool strike
Now he has little option. Baros has to shoulder the
burden of Liverpool's goalscoring responsibility alone
until January - and on Saturday he showed he is more
than willing to have a go.
When his turbo-charged burst into the Crystal Palace box
was illegally halted by Mikele Leigertwood, a man who
tackled as clumsily as his name, he bounced up like a
weeble, demanding the ball. His penalty kick was
The second goal was more of a true striker's goal,
poaching decisively inside the six yard box to finish
off what would be Harry Kewell's second goal-creating
pass of the day.
Whisper it quietly, but the personal conditioning regime
handed to the Australian by his boss may be showing
signs of reward, because it was also his piercing pass
into the Palace box which induced Popovic into making
another disastrous challenge on Baros in the final
minute of the match.
Baros' nerve and technique from 12 yards was faultless.
It may sound a little churlish to introduce a 'but'
after a striker has just scored a hat-trick, one a
nerve-shredding last minute match-winning penalty.
But, with Baros, there usually is one. His ability to
unsettle opposition defences with his random, harem
scarem runs - like a bee with its backside burned by a
magnifying glass - is obvious.
But his ability to act in tandem with his team-mates, as
part of a cohesive team unit, is less evident.
It is for that reason that many people consider him to
be a more effective super sub, a Fairclough for the
millennium, if you like, than a man to build your
forward line around - and while his long term future as
a forward at Anfield will remain shrouded in doubt.
For Baros, a pass always seems a last resort, when one
of his mazy, complicated dribbles has finally run out
space or been closed down.
And if a team-mate ever receives the ball from the
Czech, he can rest assured it is usually because he
either has his back to goal or that every possible angle
for a shot or a run has already been thwarted.
That selfishness can be admirable in a striker, but not
when you have to play alongside him - and Kewell,,
Garcia and finally, Mellor, were given that poisoned
chalice on Saturday.
But whether Baros can forge a full-time striking
partnership with somebody is for the future.
For now, the young Czech has the heady responsibility of
ensuring Liverpool's season still has something to play
for come January.
Still handily placed in the Premiership - three points
from their game in hand would see the Reds ahead of
fourth placed Middlesbrough - but their home games so
far might have been hand picked.
Arsenal, Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester United are
among the next six visitors to Anfield and that will
provide the acid test of whether Baros can become a long
term fixture or a temporary fitting in a Liverpool
And whether Liverpool can still make a serious challenge
for Champions League places in what is undoubtedly a
season of transition.
Hat-trick hero Milan thanks his team-mates
By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website
Milan Baros basked in the glory of his first ever
hat-trick for Liverpool and thanked his team-mates for
him achieve it.
Baros was the Reds' hero in Saturday's thrilling 3-2
victory over Crystal Palace but he admits that three
points are more important to him than personal glory.
"This victory was not just down to me," he told
Liverpoolfc.tv afterwards. "Together as a team we played
good attacking football and I managed to score the three
"For that it will be my name in the headlines but I
appreciate the work of my team-mates. Without them my
hat-trick would not have been possible.
"But the most important thing is that Liverpool got
three points, not that I scored three goals, and we are
all happy about that."
Two of the Czech striker's three goals came via the
penalty spot and he has no doubt that referee Phil Dowd
made the right decision on both occasions.
"They were definite penalties in my eyes. We had claims
for another one but the referee said no. Fortunately it
didn't matter in the end."
The winning penalty came in the very last minute and he
reveals that stepping up in front of the Kop to seal
victory was a tense moment.
"I was very nervous before taking the winning penalty
because I knew how important it was for us to win the
match after the defeat we suffered against Birmingham
last week. Of course, it was also the first time I have
scored three goals in a game for Liverpool."
Relief swept around Anfield at the final whistle and
Baros was delighted to have marked his return from
injury in style.
"Because I'd missed the previous to games I was really
looking forward to this one. It's difficult for me to
watch from the stands, so it was felt good to be back
out there. I just want to be playing football."
Baros has now scored 10 goals this season and is just
two away from emulating his personal best for the Reds
With Djibril Cisse out injured the main attacking onus
has been thrust upon him, but he doesn't necessarily see
it that way.
"I always do my best for Liverpool. It's unfortunate
that Djibril (Cisse) is injured but I don't feel any
added pressure because of this. Neil Mellor did well in
midweek when he scored two goals and Sinama-Pongolle is
playing well also, so I'm not the only striker," he
hat-trick delights Benitez
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised Milan Baros
after the striker's hat-trick sealed a 3-2 victory over
Crystal Palace at Anfield.
"He plays very well around and in the box. It's a
fantastic day for him," said Benitez.
"To score three goals is important for all the players.
With Djibril Cisse injured, it's important to have all
our strikers in good condition.
"The players are very, very happy and the supporters
Liverpool looked to be heading for a frustrating draw
after goals from Joonas Kolkka and Michael Hughes
cancelled out strikes from Baros.
But Baros won his second penalty of the match in the
90th minute and kept his cool from the spot to seal the
"We fought right until the end and that was important,"
"We knew it would be difficult but I thought we played
as we had to. The only thing was that we crossed many
balls at the end of the game and didn't get anything.
"But we had the opportunity. In my opinion the penalties
were right and I thought it was just that we won."
Benitez said the squad would be boosted by the imminent
return of injured captain Steven Gerrard.
"He will play on Monday with the reserve team and we
hope he could play with us next week," he said.
"Difficult to stormach"
Iain Dowie admitted that Crystal Palace's last-ditch
defeat at Liverpool was "difficult to stomach" after he
had seen Milan Baros score a hat-trick in a 3-2 Anfield
triumph that included two penalties won by the Czech
The Palace boss said: "Baros was their most outstanding
player and he hurt us.
"I don't want to get embroiled in any debate over
whether he goes down too easily, that is for other
people to decide. But it was hard to take - a bitter
pill to swallow.
"They hardly had a shot in the second half and we scored
two 'stand out' goals and frankly conceded three sloppy
"I would contest the free kick (won by Baros) that got
them the free kick which saw them reclaim the lead just
before the break, and I would like to see the penalties
"What is frustrating is the way they did us at the end.
My players are stunned after that but we must take the
positives from games like this.
"Ben Watson and Wayne Routledge were outstanding for us
and it is from games like this that players and teams
gain the character, that X-factor, you need to become
top class performers in the Premiership.
Baros treble downs Eagles
By Paul Higham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
A last minute Milan Baros penalty earned Liverpool a
3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield, with the Czech
Baros underlined how important he is to The Reds with a
sparkling performance and a hat-trick, including two
penalties, to deny a battling Palace side a point on
Joonas Kolkka cancelled out Baros' early penalty with a
thunderbolt just before half time, but there was still
time for Rafa Benitez's side to go ahead when Baros got
on the end of Harry Kewell's cross in first half
Liverpool dominated the game but missed too many chances
and were punished when Michael Hughes' header made it
2-2 six minutes after the break in a rare away attack,
but it long looked like enough to earn a point.
Palace defended with great spirit and Liverpool were
running out of time when Baros was again felled in the
box and he kept his nerve to just about beat Gabor
Kiraly and earn a vital three points for the hosts.
Palace tested Chris Kirkland early when Ben Watson fired
in a shot and the big goalkeeper needed a second attempt
to gather the ball.
Liverpool soon got into their stride and it was Jamie
Carragher who popped up inside the box to bring down
Xabi Alonso's long ball, but the centre half could not
get a shot in on target.
The Reds got the breakthrough on 23 minutes when Mikele
Leigertwood brought down Baros inside the box and
referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot.
The Czech Republic forward picked himself up to coolly
dispatch the penalty past Gabor Kiraly for 1-0.
Baros was sent tumbling inside the box a few minutes
late but this time Dowd waved away Liverpool's penalty
Palace then stunned the Kop be levelling a minute before
the break when Kolkka picked up the ball on the left of
the box and unleashed a wonderful strike which flew past
The home side's response was instant, and Baros restored
their advantage in first half stoppage time when Harry
Kewell raced into the box down the right to square
Alonso's free kick for Baros to bundle in.
Incredibly, Liverpool could have gone in 3-1 ahead at
half time when John Arne Riise squared a ball from the
left for Luis Garcia, but his effort was clawed away by
Kiraly right on the goal line.
The Reds started the second half brightly with Baros
looking desperate to grab a hat-trick, but was denied a
chance when adjudged to have handled when galloping
Baros then had a near post header well saved by Kiraly,
before firing just wide from the edge of the box when
Luis Garcia's original shot had been blocked.
Liverpool were left to rue their missed chances when
some slack play led to another shock Palace equaliser.
Kolkka was allowed far too much time and space out on
the left and his good ball in found Michael Hughes
totally unmarked and able to head in past the helpless
Kirkland from ten yards.
Liverpool went in search of a third goal, with Alonso
firing a free kick just wide and Riise having two
ferocious efforts fly just wide.
The home side piled forward in search of a winner but,
as Palace were forced further and further back, they
defended desperately at times but always did enough to
prevent a clear shot at goal.
A frustrated Liverpool looked like having to settle for
a point but Baros was still full of running, and was
awarded another penalty in the 90th minute when Tony
Popovic brought him down after another purposeful run
from the Czech.
Kiraly was booked for his antics before the spot kick,
and it nearly worked as he got a firm touch on Baros'
penalty, but it was not enough to stop him collecting
his hat-trick and earning three points for Liverpool.