Cisse and Riise in seventh heaven. (Photo: Reuters)
Luck has returned
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez was pleased to see the luck run for his
strikers after his Liverpool side blew Birmingham City away
in a 7-0 FA Cup quarter final victory.
St Andrews witnessed the full power of the Reds attack as
Fernando Morientes, Djibril Cisse and Peter Crouch found
themselves amongst the scorers, putting to bed the myth that
Liverpool are goal-shy up front.
Explaining why his front-men have now hit the goal trail
after a barren start to 2006, Benitez blamed bad luck in the
early part of the year.
"I'm delighted with the final result and also the
performance of the players," Benitez told Sky Sports.
"They worked really hard played well and scored goals.
"Sometimes you cannot score goals after 30 attempts, as
against Charlton for example, today every time we shoot, it
was a goal.
"We had some players with fresh legs and we say to them we
need to keep going and they were thinking about the clean
sheet and also to score more goals, if possible.
"I say always sometimes it is luck, we have quality the
strikers are really good, but sometimes you need luck and in
this case, we had a lot of luck."
With The Premiership seemingly out of sight and his side
already out of the UEFA Champions League, Benitez also
insisted the club were determined to claim another piece of
silverware under his guidance.
"It's important for us to win trophies and if you can play
well and go forward in a competition like this, it's very
important for us," Benitez added.
"We know it is important for them (the fans) and the players
want to win another trophy and they will try."
Gerrard: Now bring on Everton
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard says Liverpool will go into Saturday's
derby full of confidence after their magnificent seven
against Birmingham in the FA Cup quarter finals.
The Reds recorded their best ever victory away from Anfield
in the competition as they comfortably saw off the challenge
of Steve Bruce's men to secure their place in the semi-final
With Everton due at Anfield in just four days time, Gerrard
insists this result and performance couldn't have come at a
He said: "I was listening to some of the Everton players
saying they were happy to be coming to Anfield full of
confidence, but I think it's the same for us now.
"We've been getting criticised for not scoring goals of late
but hopefully we have proved the critics wrong. We're really
pleased with our performance tonight.
"Nothing has changed in terms of why we're suddenly scoring
goals. I just think we're getting more luck now. We've
always been playing well but the strikers hadn't been having
much luck. Now they're starting to go in and we're
Reds run rampant at St Andrews
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Birmingham City's terrible season plumbed new depths, as
a first-half capitulation resulted in a 7-0 destruction at
the hands of Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter finals.
The cup had provided the only respite for Blues in what has
been a shocking campaign for manager Steve Bruce, but their
run came brutally to an end at the hands of Rafa Benitez's
Two goals inside the first five minutes from Sami Hyypia and
Peter Crouch ended the tie as a contest, and Liverpool
powered their way to join West Ham United in the semi-finals
- thanks to further goals from Crouch, Fernando Morientes,
John Arne Riise, Djibril Cisse and an own goal from Olivier
It was a memorable night all round for Benitez, as he
welcomed Mohamed Sissoko back to the starting line-up for
the first time since his serious eye injury sustained
against Benfica, but for Bruce, with the club's owners
recently admitting their patience is waning, it was clearly
an evening to forget.
Suffering a dismal run of form and contending with a number
of injuries the last thing Bruce's team needed was a
terrible start, but within 60 seconds, Birmingham's
confidence took another killer blow when Hyypia beat Maik
The architect was Steven Gerrard, as the England star swung
in a free kick that Sissoko flicked on to the back post with
the back of his head, and Martin Taylor let Hyypia out of
his sights to allow the Finnish stopper to direct his header
down and past the Birmingham keeper.
Incredibly, just three minutes later, The Reds doubled their
advantage, and any late arrivals at St Andrews would have
been blinking in disbelief at the scoreboard after Crouch
Gerrard again supplied the ammunition from out wide, as he
collected a pass from Sissoko and curled in an inch perfect
cross. Crouch eagerly accepted the opportunity to grab his
ninth of the season, as he nodded home but Maik Taylor had
two attempts to stop the ball crossing the line after
getting a hand to the header.
Liverpool were forced to withdraw Djimi Traore after the
defender sustained an injury in a challenge with Damien
Johnson, but the introduction of Harry Kewell would hardly
have given Bruce a lift, as his side continued to bring
little to the contest.
Despite being involved in the two early goals, Sissoko's
return was not all going according to plan as his fetching
Edgar Davids-style eyewear was causing him a condensation
problem, and Liverpool's bright start was also temporarily
clouded, as they settled into a more pedestrian stride.
However, on 38 minutes, the spark was back as Luis Garcia
drove across the penalty box before holding off Kenny
Cunningham, and when Martin Taylor tried to intervene, the
ball merely fell to the accepting feet of Crouch, who
side-footed home for a three-goal lead.
The England international could have had a hat-trick before
half time, as he fired wide after dispossessing Marcos
Painter in the box before also heading straight at Taylor,
as he climbed high to reach a corner.
Only Jermaine Pennant posed a real threat for the
beleaguered home side, and when he had the chance to unleash
his pace and crossing on the right, he called on both Jose
Reina and Jamie Carragher to supply timely interventions to
deny Forssell a sight at goal.
David Dunn and Jamie Clapham also offered ambitious
attempts, but the locals' discontent was evident at half
time with the chorus of boos that rang out around St
No doubt acutely aware that their remaining pride was on the
line, Birmingham came out of the half-time break a more
improved unit, at least initially, and Johnson sliced an
effort wide from the edge of the box within 60 seconds of
However, despite the neat build-up involving David Dunn and
Pennant, Jose Reina was a virtual bystander in the Liverpool
goal and The Reds began to search for an even more
Riise saw a set-piece gathered by Taylor at his left-hand
post, and a cheeky lofted lob from Xabi Alonso nearly caught
the Northern Ireland international napping, as he tipped
over a bit too casually.
With Crouch looking dangerous and in search of a hat-trick,
it seemed a puzzling decision when Morientes was summoned
from the bench to replace the England man on 56 minutes,
however Benitez's choice was inspired, as within three
minutes the Spaniard was also on the scoresheet.
Gerrard was released inside the box by a glorious dummy from
Garcia, and the task for Morientes could not have been
simpler, as he tapped home the square ball from his captain.
Although Mikael Forssell offered a rare shot on goal, as he
took down Pennant's chipped cross and fired down Reina's
throat, it was game over for Bruce's side and damage
limitation thoughts came into play.
However, they were not to be so lucky as on 70 minutes, the
best goal of the night arrived after Gerrard flicked a pass
to Riise with the outside of his boot.
The Norwegian steadied himself on the left corner of the box
and unleashed a trademark rocket of a shot that seared past
Taylor for a five-goal lead.
To heap on further embarrassment, substitute Olivier Tebily
left his manager with his head in his hands, as he clumsily
turned a Harry Kewell cross past his own keeper to make it
Just when they thought things could not get any worse, and
with the locals departing in their droves, Birmingham's
red-face turned a deeper shade of claret when Cisse picked
up the ball from Garcia, made space to the right of Painter
and saw his speculative effort creep under an unconvincing
dive from Taylor to apply the coup de grace.
For Liverpool, the St Andrews' massacre was a further
riposte to critics of the Reds' sharp shooters, but for
Bruce, the main concern will be avoiding the firing squad
after an embarrassing and morale-destroying defeat.