After The Match 


Sunderland-Liverpool 0-1 (0-0)       16.8.08                         PL
Goals: Torres (83)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Dossena, Carragher, Hyypia, Benayoun, Kuyt, Gerrard, Plessis, Torres, Keane
Subs: Alonso (Plessis 45), El Zhar (Keane 77),
Aurelio (Benayoun 81)
Not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Skrtel, Ngog
Yellow: Arbeloa (56), El Zhar (90)
Red: None
Referee: Alan Wiley
Attendance: 43,259
Shots on target: 3-3
Shots off target: 3-5
Blocked shots: 1-8
Fouls conceded: 13-12
Corners: 1-8
Offsides: 2-0
Possession: 4.4-59.6
Yellow: 0-2

HEADLINES "The difference at the end of
the game
was Torres."

Rafael Benitez

1806: Sami: We must get better
1608: Rafa hails match-winner Torres
1608: Alonso & Torres rescue Liverpool 


Torres and Aurelio celebrate at Sunderland. (Photo: Reuters)

Sami: We must get better

By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo

Sami Hyypia has warned Liverpool they must up their game if they are to entertain any thoughts of challenging for the Premier League.

The Reds again had Fernando Torres to thank for getting their season off to a perfect start with a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, but Hyypia was far from impressed with the team’s performance.

But he did single the Spanish striker out for special praise for the 25-yard strike which proved the difference between the two sides at the Stadium of Light.

“The first half in particular was not good enough, we know that,” said the Finn.

“It was tough for us at the start of the game. They came out of the blocks really quickly and set a really high tempo, which you’d expect because it was their first home game of the season.

“They put us under a lot of pressure and maybe we were a little bit slow to get going.

“It was certainly not the best game we have played, but the important thing was that we got better in the second half and at the end Fernando popped up with a goal and that was enough to win the game.

“The most important thing is that we got the win. It was good to get three points and keep a clean sheet.

“We have to be happy with that but we have to look at what we can do better because there are many, many things that we can do better.”

After being left out of Rafa Benitez’s starting line up forLiverpool’s goalless draw at Standard Liege last week, Hyypia returned to the side at the expense of Daniel Agger at the weekend and the 34-year-old hopes he did enough to impress his manager.

“It was good to be back,” he said. “That’s why I’m here, whenever the manager needs me I will do my best. He asked me to do a job against Sunderland and hopefully I did that.

“We are lucky enough to have so many good defenders at this club so when you play you have to give everything if you want to keep your place.”

Both Jermaine Pennant and Andriy Voronin were left out of the squad on Saturday as Benitez looks to tie up deals that could see the pair depart Anfield this week.

Rafa hails match-winner Torres

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez saluted the goalscoring prowess of Fernando Torres after the Euro 2008 hero ensured Liverpool's 2008-09 Barclays Premier League campaign got off to a winning start at Sunderland.

El Nino pounced in the 83rd minute of the game to seal the three points for Liverpool against Roy Keane's resilient Sunderland.

Benitez admitted the Black Cats made things tough for his side, especially in the opening period of the game.

He said: "I think it was a difficult game first half. They controlled the game in the opening 45 minutes but didn't have clear chances other than one. We were a little under pressure but the second half was different.

"We were controlling it and the quality of our passing was much better. We had plenty of possession and were much better going forward.

"The difference at the end of the game was Torres. We know he can score these kind of goals but the team as a whole needs to play well.

"It was also important that we kept a clean sheet."

Explaining his decision not to start with Xabi Alonso, Benitez added: "Xabi had a dead leg and we needed to protect him. Plessis was injured too with a knock on his lower back, so I needed to bring Xabi on for the second half.

"We knew Xabi could be only 80 per cent but he played well. Xabi is our player and he is playing well. If he continues to play like this I will be really pleased."

Another positive Benitez took from the game was the return to the squad of Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio, with the latter featuring as a second-half substitute after recovering from a shin injury.

He said: "All the managers want their squad ready for the beginning of the season but we have some players in the Olympic Games and some have been injured. It was important for me to have Gerrard available and see Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio back in the squad toady."

Alonso & Torres rescue Liverpool

By Gill Clark -

A moment of Spanish magic from Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres saw Liverpool come away from the Stadium of Light with a fortuitous 1-0 win against Sunderland.

Benitez started the match with his new strike partnership of Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane up front, whilst Xabi Alonso was left on the bench with the youngster Damien Plessis partnering Steven Gerrard in midfield. Sunderland, meanwhile, gave debuts to new signings Pascal Chimbonda, Teemu Tainio, Steed Malbranque and El-Hadji Diouf.

Yet Liverpool began the game in shaky fashion, particularly at the back where Sami Hypia was especially nervy. An early weak header back to goalkeeper Reina almost putting in Diouf. Fortunately for the visitors, the Senegalese hesitated and a covering Jamie Carragher managed to clear.

The home side, by contrast, were knocking the ball around confidently, particularly in midfield with Reid, Richardson and Malbranque looking good on the ball and attempting to find Diouf, who was making a nuisance of himself up front.

The home side’s best chance of the first half fell to Daryl Murphy. Richardson and Diouf combined well on the left, with the former Bolton man managing to whip in a decent cross which Murphy managed to connect with, however his header lacked power and failed to really trouble Reina.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were struggling to create any real chances although they did grow into the game as the match wore on. The much vaunted partnership of Torres and Keane saw little of the ball in the first half and it fell to captain Steven Gerrard to try and rouse his side.

The closest Benitez’s men came to a goal was minutes before the interval. New signing Robbie Keane brought the ball down well on the edge of the box before firing a low shot well wide.

Benitez changed things at half time with Xabi Alonso replacing the youngster Damien Plessis and Liverpool gradually began to apply some pressure and dominate possession.

Yet the first real chance of the second half fell to the home side and once again, Diouf. Richardson on the break, slipped in Murphy whose cross was met by the forward but, again, his header couldn’t beat Reina when well placed.

Roy Keane opted to change things, replacing Tainio with Whitehead on the hour mark and the game began to open up. Steven Gerrard was driving his side forward but Sunderland were defending well and managing to get bodies back and shield Gordon.

However, their defensive shield almost conspired to give Liverpool the lead with twenty minutes to go. A Kuyt shot was deflected and almost fooled goalkeeper Gordon. However, a decent parry by the Sunderland stopper fell to Fernando Torres whose tap in was blocked by Robbie Keane.

That was the last of the action for Keane, whose disappointing debut was ended early, the Irishman replaced by El-Zhar.

And with ten minutes to go the game looked to be heading for a draw but Fernando Torres, so often Liverpool’s match winner last season, decided to intervene despite having been quiet for much of the game.

Substitute Alonso put the ball through to his compatriot who controlled it on the edge of the box before firing a low shot into the corner and past Gordon to give Liverpool the lead.

The home side were stunned and were unable to respond yet despite the result manager Roy Keane will be pleased with the performance. Although Sunderland still look a little lightweight up front, they do appear to have improved on last season.

Benitez, however will be delighted with the victory especially when it had looked as though the afternoon would end in frustration for Liverpool.

Last season, draws were the problem for the Anfield side, 13 in total which quickly put them out of the title race. Whilst the performance was far below what Benitez will be demanding from his team, today’s victory suggests they may just be ready to move on.

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Thor Zakariassen ©