After The Match 

            


Charlton-Liverpool 0-3 (0-1)           16.12.06                      PL
Goals: Alonso (pen. 3), Bellamy (82), Gerrard (88)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Gonzalez, Bellamy, Kuyt
Subs: Garcia (Gonzalez 67), Aurelio (Kuyt 77),
Crouch (Pennant 83)
Not used: Dudek, Agger
Yellow: Garcia (73)          Traore (3)
Red: None
Referee: H Webb
Attendance:
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 1-7
Shots off target: 5-11
Possession: 43-57
Fouls conceded: 9-5
Corners: 2-8
Offsides: 4-5
Yellow: 1-1
Red:

 

0-0
HEADLINES  "We have
the balance now to defend properly and attack well."
    Rafael Benitez

1812: Reina I'm in no rush to exit Anfield
1812: Benitez still believes title is in reach
1612: Benitez buoyed by Reds display
1612: Reed looking for positives
1612: Reds stroll to Valley victory


 


DECEMBER 18
Reina I'm in no rush to exit Anfield

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Pepe Reina today eased fears about of homesickness may prompt an early return to Spain at the end of the season.

The Spanish keeper is consistently being linked with a summer move to Valencia - much to the annoyance of manager Rafa Benitez who's determined to keep his number one.

Negotiations over a new contract are planned in the New Year, and although Reina insists he's in 'no hurry' to thrash out fresh terms, he's dismissed rumours he's unsettled on Merseyside.

"As the manager keeps saying, we don't know where these stories keep beginning," said Reina.

"I'm really happy here at Liverpool. It's a big club and I have a good relationship with all the people. I have two and a half years left of my contract, so I'm in no hurry.

"I don't know if now is the right time to be talking about a contract because I like to focus just on the games. There will be plenty of time to do this.

"I'm not homesick. Obviously there are things in Spain we all miss because our family and friends are all back there, but that's normal.

"There are things which are not the same, but that's what you expect as a foot-baller.

"I have a very happy life here with my wife and a daughter which is on the way, so there's no problem for me here."

Reina's form certainly isn't being affected by the speculation, as he helped Liverpool to another clean sheet at the weekend.

That's the club's tenth in their last 12 games.

"I'm happy with another clean sheet, but even happier with the victory," said Reina.

"We have some momentum away from home now.

"The beginning of the season wasn't the best for us, but we always said it would improve.

"The schedule wasn't easy forus. It seemed we had to go to all the most difficult stadiums first. But now we're playing more away games where we know the chances of winning for us are much better."

Liverpool returned to training yesterday, but were given the day off ahead of tomorrow's League Cup quarter-final with Arsenal.

The competition is often considered low on the priority list, but with such illustrious opponents heading to Merseyside, both Benitez and Arsene Wenger are expected to field strong sides at Anfield.

Reina is in no doubt of the significance of the fixture.

"It's Arsenal and it's a cup game, so of course it's important," he said.


DECEMBER 18
Benitez still believes title is in reach

By Christopher Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post Staff

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has not given up hope of capturing an unlikely Premiership title triumph after his side climbed to third in the Premiership table.

Less than a month ago, his side were without an away victory and languishing in mid-table but following 4-0 thrashings of Wigan Athletic and Fulham, Liverpool's latest comprehensive success - 3-0 at Charlton on Saturday - has convinced the Spaniardthat there is still time for his team to play catch-up.

He said: "When I was at Valencia we were seven points behind Real Madrid at Christmas time and I said to some of my players at a hotel 'Keep going because we will win the league.'

"Afterwards they said to me that they were laughing at the time but we won the league and we were seven points ahead.

"Maybe it's not the case when you have two teams at the top of the table because you cannot change the things they are doing."

However Benitez added: "The only thing you can do is keep winning, keep the team with the same mentality and keep the team playing as well as possible, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets and afterwards you will see - you cannot keep looking at the table every day.

"It's a long race. To be ahead or below for one week is not a big difference. The question is to see if we can keep the team winning and the performance is similar."

With 11 goals in their last three Premiership matches, including seven in two away games, and no goals conceded, Liverpool are enjoying their best form of the season, but Benitez reckons that is a reward for the hard work his side put in earlier in the campaign when they did not get the end result.

He said: "I've said before, maybe it was bad luck (earlier in the season). We were creating chances a lot of times away from home and we could not win.

"When you have 20 attempts which we had in some of the games against Middlesbrough or Everton were losing 3-0 or drawing, people were saying 'bad performance' but I said 'no'.

"As a manager you must give the team the idea and they must play well and create chances - and after you need to score.

"We've now scored three against Charlton and last week four against Fulham but we keep creating chances and I am very pleased with this."

Meanwhile, man-of-the-match Craig Bellamy, who netted his 50th league goal as well as laying on several good opportunities for his team-mates was delighted to get another comprehensive win.

He said: "I'm delighted to have scored my 50th league goal, but it's even better to get the three points and keep our run going.

"We knew the second goal was vital. It took us a while to get it, but when we did we knew it was all over.

"While there was only one goal in it, it didn't matter that we were dominating and Charlton missed agood chance just before I scored."

Bellamy was ruled onside by an eagle-eyed linesman to score the important second, but had no doubts over the validity of his goal.

"It is going pretty well for us lately and I thought we dominated it against Charlton," he added. "We just couldn't get the second goal until late on but I was happy with it and knew I was not offside."

Benitez added that he would continue to rotate his strikers, wanting a look at Robbie Fowler alongside Kuyt at the next possible opportunity.

He also offered rival manager Les Reed and Charlton some hope, saying: "They must try to stay calm when the matches they are capable of winning come around, but they couldn't stop us from the start.

"I have got to be pleased with 3-0 away from home because that's 11 in three games."


DECEMBER 16
Benitez buoyed by Reds display

By Mark Kendall - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted by his side's display in the 3-0 win over Charlton, but admitted they were fortunate not to be punished for their profligacy in front of goal.

The Reds created a veritable feast of chances, but had to wait until the final ten minutes to add to Xabi Alonso's early penalty.

By that time Charlton had missed a couple of chances of their own and Benitez insists his side must be more clinical.

"It was a good game, we were creating a lot of chances and had a lot of opportunities to score two or three more goals," he stated.

"But we made mistakes and they could have scored. In the first 15 minutes we had five chances, we needed to score the second goal.

"The second half was the same and when you make mistakes sometimes you pay for them."

But the Spaniard is pleased with how his side is developing, adding: "We have the balance now to defend properly and attack well. We are creating chances up front.

"We made one or two mistakes but normally we don't now."


DECEMBER 16
Reed looking for positives

By Mark Kendall - Sky Sports

Charlton manager Les Reed conceded his side had been outplayed by Liverpool, but still felt they could have snatched something from a one-sided encounter.

Having taken an early lead, the Merseysiders could not find a second goal to kill off the game and were nearly made to pay as Charlton created a couple of decent second half chances.

"We had a 10-minute spell before the end when it was 1-0 when it looked like we might create something," Reed opined.

"We created a couple of chances, didn't take them and got punished. They made it 2-0 and out of our grasp."

The Addicks chief admitted his troops were down on confidence but felt misfortune also played a part in their downfall.

"They say nothing goes for you when you are at the bottom," he continued.

"A penalty two minutes in is the first knock, then enforced substitutions, you pick up injuries, those things don't help.

"That knocks your confidence. I'm not making excuses but we did lack confidence today."


DECEMBER 16
Reds stroll to Valley victory

By Mark Kendall - Sky Sports

Having failed to win any of their first seven matches away from home in the Premiership, Liverpool made it two from two after a comprehensive 3-0 triumph over Charlton at The Valley.

In truth the scoreline did not the reflect the gulf between the two teams with The Addicks booed off by their own fans after an incompetent display.

Liverpool were ahead early courtesy of a Xabi Alonso penalty, but somehow spurned a plethora of chances before finally making sure of the result with two goals in the final ten minutes through Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard.

The tone for an incredibly open first half in which Liverpool carved their hosts open seemingly at will was set after just two minutes as the Merseysiders were awarded a penalty.

Djimi Traore was the Charlton villain, the former Red attempted to meet Mark Gonzalez's cross from the left with a boot when his head seemed the obvious option and succeeded only in nearly decapitating Jermaine Pennant.

Referee Howard Webb had no hesitation in pointing to spot and also showed Traore a yellow card for his troubles. The defender's woes were then compounded as Alonso effortlessly dispatched the spot-kick, stroking down the middle with Thomas Myhre diving to his left.

The pace of Bellamy appeared to be all too much for a nervous-looking Charlton backline with the Welshman creating no end of problems.

He should have doubled the lead on ten minutes as he sped clear and into the box, but having rounded the advancing Myhre was denied by a fantastic last-ditch block by Luke Young as he prepared to tap into empty net.

A lovely interchange between Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt on the edge of the box soon produced another gilt-edged opportunity, twice the strike partners exchanged passes with Bellamy releasing the Dutchman who dragged his shot wide of goal from when he should have done better.

Pennant was much more clinical when Bellamy laid on yet another opening after getting to the by-line, but saw his goal-bound left-footer cleared off the line by Traore who went some way to atoning for his earlier blunder.

For all their dominance Liverpool could have paid for their profligacy in front of goal as Talal El Kharkouri picked out Andy Reid on the right in yards of space with a raking ball from the back. The Republic of Ireland international had time and space and unleashed a measured shot that Jose Reina could only push out to Hermann Hreidarsson, but the Icelander will want to forget his attempt as he blazed over from six yards with goal at his mercy.

It was, though, an isolated scare as the visitors promptly reasserted their stranglehold on proceedings, carving out several more chances before the interval.

Gonzalez saw a header well saved and Bellamy was caught in two minds having seen a cross-cum-shot fall into no man's land and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez must have been asking himself just how the lead stood only at one as he made his way down the tunnel at half-time.

Somewhat strangely Charlton opted to sacrifice arguably their brightest spark at the interval as Darren Ambrose was introduced to replace Reid, however, the swap did little to change the flow of the game as Liverpool took up where they left off before the break.

A rapid counter saw them create a three on two breakaway and although Charlton regrouped to cover the danger, Steven Gerrard laid the ball back to Alonso whose measured strike from 25 required an alert save from Myhre.

The home fans were becoming increasingly vocal in showing their displeasure at Liverpool's domination with Faye the scapegoat following a couple of clumsy touches and it was no surprise to see Les Reed haul the Senegalese midfielder off on the hour mark.

But it was the whole Charlton team who seemed to be suffering from a lack of confidence and belief, summed up when a long throw from Riise was allowed to float over a host of defenders and into the path of Bellamy who teed up Kuyt to strike the woodwork with a precise effort from the edge of the box.

As the game entered its final quarter it remained an utter mystery how Liverpool remained only one ahead, but the fragility of their lead was underlined 20 minutes from time as Charlton manufactured their first meaningful attack of the second period.

Rommedahl made tracks down the left and his flighted cross looped over everybody to Darren Ambrose at the far post whose rasping volley flew narrowly over the bar.

The incident provided the lift the home side had so desperately needed and a second chance to draw level arrived almost instantly as Darren Bent found space in the box, but the England international snatched at his shot and failed to get his effort on target.

It proved to be a false dawn as Benitez's men got the second goal their play richly deserved nine minutes from time. Bellamy's clever run into the box went untracked and on meeting's substitute Luis Garcia's clever pass he produced the clinical finish that had been missing for so much of the afternoon to put a one-sided game to bed.

Still there was time for a third to give the scoreline a more realistic look, Gerrard stamping his class on an afternoon where he had been unusually quiet by curling a delicious third from just inside the box after some more ponderous defending from a beleaguered home defence.


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Thor Zakariassen