Cisse celebrates his goal which gave
Reds 1-0 vs Blackburn. (Photo: AP)
Much to cheer.. everywhere
but Anfield, that is...
By Len Capeling - Daily Post
It says much about the desolate nature of this match
that two of the loudest cheers of the afternoon
accompanied joyful events away from a stressed-out
First there was cruel rejoicing over the downfall of
Michael Owen and Newcastle - beaten by Wigan Athletic.
Then, a little later, thunderous acclaim as Everton were
turned over at Tottenham.
In between times came the wildest applause of the day as
Djibril Cisse buried his own problems - for the moment,
anyway - under a fiercely-struck free-kick that earned
Liverpool a big, big three points.
For long periods of a ponderous, slipshod encounter, a
goal as sweet as this one appeared unlikely to decorate
Blackburn kept nine behind the ball and Liverpool met
dullness with dullness by firing a succession of high
punts in the general direction of Peter Crouch's head.
When Blackburn lost Georgian defender Zurab
Khizanishvili to a red card with only half an agonising
hour gone, we imagined space opening up and Rafael
Benitez's European champions capitalising.
Dream on. Blackburn simply ditched Paul Dickov, brought
on craggy centre-half Andy Todd and comfortably kept
Liverpool at bay.
Such was the level of entertainment at this stage that
only the miscalculations of referee Mark Halsey and the
attempts at flight by the armflapping Benitez made
things remotely bearable.
Halsey tied himself in knots when Khizanishvili sent
Cisse crashing to the ground. Penalty decreed Halsey,
before racing to consult his linesman, who clearly
A second consulation finally wiped out the penalty and
also wiped out the Blackburn defender, deemed to be the
last man even though Cisse was far from being denied a
direct run on goal.
A furious Mark Hughes harangued the fourth official, but
to no avail.
Liverpool, for their part, would probably have preferred
a penalty, taking account of the fact that the challenge
on Cisse was outside the area, his momentum carrying him
forward a further three yards.
What followed, apart from a bit of argy-bargy between
Hughes and the home bench - instantly defused by the
magisterial Benitez - was one of the worst exhibition of
passing I've ever seen from a Liverpool team.
Xabi Alonso remained above this carelessness until late
on, and so did Momo Sissoko, whose tackling and
distribution rarely failed him.
It didn't help that so much possession was squandered in
exasperating attempts to locate the Crouch Lighthouse,
or that the bulk of the rebounds fell to no-one in a red
Cisse, his supposed partner, entered the match at a low
ebb, missing a double hat-trick of chances for France,
and loudly claiming that Liverpool want him out.
He proceeded to demonstrate why he's so difficult to
cherish. Precision is not his forte, nor, apparently, is
Too often here he castigated colleagues, jabbing a
finger, or shaking his head, without once wondering
whether the move had broken down because of his own
Headers flew wide or over, and he resisted one goal
chance by attempting the foolishly acrobatic when a
simple nod might have beaten Brad Friedel.
With no link between the France striker and Crouch,
With no width in a puzzling 3-5-2 that asked Steve
Finnan and Stephen Warnock to be auxiliary wingers,
nothing happened that didn't slam into the Blackburn
barriers, where young Ryan Nelsen prospered.
Fernando Morientes, on for Crouch, brought some
much-needed awareness to Liverpool's frontline, which
would have been marvellous had Real Madrid's great
riddle not fluffed two simple chances from six yards
It didn't matter thanks to Cisse who at long last
produced a moment of magic after Robbie Savage - who
else? - tripped Bolo Zenden..
Alonso expertly rolled the free-kick into Cisse's path
and his 25-yard bullet defeated Friedel who, like his
opposite number Pepe Reina, enjoyed the easiest of
outings amid the autumn sunshine.
"When I saw Cisse was going to have a shot, I thought,
oh no," said one departing Liverpool supporter.
Happily, he got it wrong, and a year after the
goalscorer almost lost his career at Blackburn -
surgeons contemplated amputating his shattered leg - the
£14million misfit delivered a precious moment.
The handshake he then gave to Rafael Benitez was
probably more impudence than ebullience.
But Benitez made the best of it on a day when there was
too little else to dwell on without groaning and turning
to Steven Gerrard for future deliverance.
Cisse makes Anfield pledge
Djibril Cisse has underlined his commitment to
Liverpool after his Anfield winner - but was far from
impressed with Blackburn's fans.
The France striker scored the winner to lift the anguish
at Anfield and then pointedly ran to shake Rafael
Benitez's hand to publicly heal any rift after too many
words of complaint about his position at the club.
Cisse then pleaded for the speculation about his future
to stop, insisting: "Why should I want to leave this
He also revealed that the abuse from Blackburn fans over
the double leg fracture he suffered at Ewood Park last
season left him angry and determined to score.
His dance of triumph in front of the visiting fans after
driving home the winner was inadvisable, but he said:
"They were singing 'Cisse glass leg.' I was angry after
that and I just wanted to score because of those stupid
fans. And I want to say 'thank you' to the Liverpool
fans for supporting me after that.
"The goal was important to me because I broke my leg
badly at Blackburn last season, I am pleased with the
goals I have been scoring and have no problem with the
Cisse's winner prompted his theatrical sprint to the
dug-out, having spent the last fortnight moaning about
being on the Liverpool bench too much, which had
prompted suggestions he would leave in the January
transfer window to protect his World Cup finals place
But he said: "I ran across to shake hands with the boss
as a small message to show everyone there was no problem
between me and the manager. I wanted to show to the fans
that we have a normal relationship.
"The most important thing was the three points because
we are not in a good position. I really just want all
the speculation to stop now about problems between me
and the coach and me and the club. I am happy to stay
here - why should I want to leave?
"You could see the fans reaction to me. You won't find
fans like that anywhere in the world, so I don't know
why people say I want to leave. I want it all to stop
and for me to work for the club.
"The best way is to carry on scoring goals, I have had a
good season so far with goals, but we need points
because we can't stay in positions like 12 and 13.
"When I came back from France we just spoke normally as
player and coach, and did not talk about what has been
said. There are more important things to talk about."
happy for Cisse
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted to see
Djibril Cisse score the winner against Blackburn.
Cisse finally found a way past a resolute Blackburn
defence 15 minutes from time with the visitors having to
play for ten men for almost an hour after Zurab
Khizanishvili was sent off.
Benitez again rejected rumours of a rift with Cisse with
the Frenchman celebrating his goal by shaking hands with
the Spaniard on the sidelines.
"If you have opportunities you must think you will
score," said Benitez.
"It is good for him (Cisse) and for the team and I hope
he can score more goals in the future.
"We don't have any problems and we talked about the
situation at the end of the day.
"If the manager decides he understands."
Benitez also believes referee Mark Halsey got it right
with the sending off.
"He was the last man. I don't know (if it was a penalty)
the linesman was in a better position, but he was the
last man for sure," added Benitez.
The Spaniard also revealed that Sami Hyypia was left out
for tactical reasons.
The Finn was a surprise omission from the starting XI
and Benitez admitted he was left out and that the player
was not injured.
"He (Hyypia) is okay it was a team selection thing,"
Hughes fumes at dismissal
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes was left fuming by Mark
Halsey after his side's defeat to Liverpool.
Rovers saw their three-match winning streak come to an
end after a 1-0 defeat at Anfield.
The visitors were forced to play for almost an hour with
ten man after Zurab Khizanishvili was controversially
sent off for bringing down Djibril Cisse as he tried to
race clear on goal.
Hughes was incensed with the decision and believes the
sending off cost his side dear.
"We've worked really hard for long periods with only ten
men and the referee got it wrong," bemoaned Hughes.
"The incident he initially thought was a penalty, but he
was buzzed by his linesman and he told him it was
outside the box.
"At that point I thought it was possibly a yellow card
and he intimated that to our players and then he showed
a red card and we cannot understand that in that
"That was 30 odd minutes and it left us in a difficult
situation and we just tried to get through the game.
"I just think too many decisions by the referee affected
the outcome of the game.
"Initially I thought he had given a penalty, but then he
put it right with a free kick although he saw fit to
give a red card for a player running away from goal and
I felt it was harsh on our players.
"I thought we were excellent and stood up to the
challenge and Liverpool were hanging onto the 1-0 in the
end and that shows how determined we are to get results.
"Our fitness levels were fantastic and I am convinced if
we were able to keep everyone on the pitch today we
would have won easily."
Hughes also hinted that they may appeal Khizanishvili's
"We feel we have a strong case as it never merited a red
card," added Hughes.
"I hope the referee will look at it again and judge on
"My concern is the disappointment felt by my players.
They have worked hard and they have to put up with the
wrong decision in my mind."
Cisse sinks ten-man Rovers
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Djibril Cisse's late goal gave Liverpool a 1-0 win
over ten-man Blackburn at Anfield.
The Frenchman finally found the net 15 minutes from time
to end Blackburn's resilience after Zurab Khizanishvili
was sent off in the first half for taking down Cisse.
After a quiet start Liverpool created their first chance
on ten minutes when Xabi Alonso's corner found Cisse
unmarked inside the box only for the Frenchman to fluff
his acrobatic overhead kick.
Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher had the next chance
for the home side three minutes later when he flicked
Alonso's free kick just wide of the target.
Shefki Kuqi had a half chance for Blackburn on 18
minutes when he rose above Djimi Traore to meet David
Bentley's cross, but the giant Finn could not direct his
header on target.
A minute later Cisse headed Finnan's floated cross from
the right wide of the target.
Blackburn fashioned a good opening on 25 minutes when
Paul Dickov teed up Robbie Savage in the box, but Alonso
put the Welshman under enough pressure so that he could
not get a clean strike at goal.
The visitors suffered a blow on 33 minutes when
Khizanishvili was sent off for bringing down Cisse right
on the edge of the box as he ran clear on goal.
Liverpool felt the incident occurred inside the box and
Khizanishvili could count himself unlucky to be handed a
straight red card for the offence.
From the resulting free kick Boudewijn Zenden saw his
shot fly off the crossbar and into the Kop.
The sending off forced Blackburn into a tactical change
with Andy Todd coming on for Dickov to bolster the
Carragher had his second chance of the game on 38
minutes when he got on the end of Alonso's free kick to
prod a shot goalwards, but Brad Friedel kept out his
effort with his legs.
Cisse went close a minute later with a powerful header
from Josemi's cross which flew just over the crossbar.
Liverpool tried to take advantage of their numerical
advantage and Crouch and Cisse both saw efforts fail to
hit the target just before the break.
At the start of the second half Liverpool tried to make
any inroads in the Blackburn defence with Cisse trying
his luck with an ambitious volley which flew harmlessly
over the bar.
Liverpool had claims for a penalty rejected on the hour
when Tugay appeared to bring down Stephen Warnock inside
the box, but their appeals were waved away.
Cisse, who looked like a man with a point to prove, saw
a header from Alonso's free kick tipped over the bar by
From the resulting corner Crouch headed dangerously
across the face of goal towards Cisse, but Michael Gray
got back to hack clear.
Cisse missed a great chance to break the deadlock on 65
minutes when substitute Luis Garcia picked him out on
the edge of the box, but he dragged his shot wide of the
target much to the frustration of the home fans.
Liverpool finally broke the deadlock on 75 minutes when
Alonso teed up Cisse with a short free kick and the
Frenchman drove his shot past Friedel.
Substitute Fernando Morientes made a mess of a free
header from Finnan's cross ten minutes from time after
finding space in the box.
Kuqi missed a rare chance for Blackburn four minutes
from time when he beat the Liverpool offside trap to
meet Gray's lofted pass, but he got his header horribly
wrong heading well wide of the target.
Morientes should have made the game safe three minutes
from time when Friedel failed to hold a shot from
substitute John Arne Riise, but with the goal at his
mercy the Spaniard poked his shot wide.
The Spaniard, who was returning to action after six
games out through injury, then showed rustiness again
when he headed Riise's pinpoint cross header over the
top as Liverpool held on for their second Premiership
win of the season.