Torres and Aurelio celebrate at Sunderland. (Photo:
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
“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
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."
Torres rescue Liverpool
By Gill Clark - Goal.com
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
Benitez changed things at half time with Xabi Alonso
replacing the youngster Damien Plessis and Liverpool
gradually began to apply some pressure and dominate
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
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
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
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
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.