After The Match 


Liverpool-Watford 2-0 (0-0)             23.12.06                      PL
Goals: Bellamy (47), Alonso (88)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Carragher, Agger, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia, Pennant, Bellamy, Kuyt
Subs: Gonzalez (Pennant 66), Crouch (Bellamy 82),
Aurelio (Kuyt 90)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: 42,807
Shots on target: 8-2
Shots off target: 5-3
Possession: 54-46
Fouls conceded: 12-18
Corners: 7-6
Offsides: 5-3
Yellow: 0-0


HEADLINES "Craig is showing
the sort
of quality
we bought
him for."
    Rafael Benitez

2312: Rafa: It was a difficult game
2312: Boothroyd: We can bounce back
2312: Bellamy and Xabi sting Hornets


Rafa: It was a difficult game

By Rob Lancaster - Sky Sports

Rafael Benitez admitted his Liverpool side had been forced to work hard for their 2-0 home win over lowly Watford.

The Reds sealed a fourth straight league success thanks to strikes from Craig Bellamy and Xabi Alonso.

Both goals came in the second half as The Hornets belied their lowly league position with a robust display in the opening 45 minutes.

"We deserved to win, but it was a difficult game," Benitez commented.

"We desperately needed that second goal to clinch the points, and it took a long time to get it.

"Watford were physical, and we expected that. And they were dangerous from set pieces.

"But we were able to hit them on the break and although the second goal was a long time coming, we deserved the points."

As well as scoring his sixth of the season, Bellamy proved to be a constant menace for the Watford defence before being replaced by Peter Crouch.

The Welshman is getting back to the form he displayed for Blackburn last year before sealing a summer switch to Anfield.

Benitez is certainly delighted with Bellamy's recent displays as he once again decided to pair him up front alongside Dutchman Dirk Kuyt.

"Craig is showing the sort of quality we bought him for," the Spaniard said.

"He has such pace and can get behind defences, while setting up chances for colleagues.

"His partnership with Dirk Kuyt is starting to get better and he is scoring goals. Strikers take confidence from goal and that is what we are now seeing from Craig."

Boothroyd: We can bounce back

By Rob Lancaster - Sky Sports

Adrian Boothroyd bemoaned too many missed chances after Watford slipped to a 2-0 defeat away at Liverpool.

The Hornets battled hard to keep it at 0-0 up until half time before allowing Craig Bellamy and Xabi Alonso to score after the break.

It could have all been so different for the visitors had Alhassan Bangura not failed to volley into an empty net in the first half.

"We competed well, but we are not taking our chances," Boothroyd admitted.

"The goals were both mistakes by us that could have been avoided.

"We are resilient and we could have come away from the game with something. The second goal finished it, but we had made chances before that and could have surprised them."

Now Boothroyd has to quickly lift his troops for the home clash against Arsenal on Boxing Day.

He insists his players can bounce back despite finding themselves eight points adrift on safety at the foot of the table.

"It would be easy to say that this has been a killer result for us, with Arsenal coming up on Boxing Day," he said.

"But it is only a killer if you allow it to knock you down for good.

"We will bounce back, we have to. But we know that competing well is not enough, we must score goals when the chances come around."

Bellamy and Xabi sting Hornets


Liverpool made hard work of beating Watford 2-0 at Anfield, where goals from Craig Bellamy and Xabi Alonso wrapped up the points.

Liverpool made it 26 home league games without defeat as they overcame the Hornets - equalling a run last accomplished under Kenny Dalglish in 1991.

Rafael Benitez's men may not quite be up to that vintage, but they are on the sort of run now - with four straight league wins - that at least should secure them another season in the Champions League.

Watford made them work hard. It was not until Bellamy broke the deadlock 62 seconds into the second period with a neat chip - his fourth goal in five games - that the Anfield men started to look comfortable.

Adrian Boothroyd's side are resilient, fit, organised and full of powerful players, but depend on set-pieces to carry their threat.

Liverpool were forced to concentrate against such a barrage, and it took them until two minutes from time for Alonso seal it with a fine 25-yarder.

Liverpool brought in young Danish defender Daniel Agger and midfielder Luis Garcia in place of Sami Hyypia and Mark Gonzalez from the side that won 3-0 at Charlton last weekend.

For Watford, there was a boost when goalkeeper Ben Foster was declared fit following a knee injury - and he was certainly a busy man.

The Anfield fans were expecting a convincing win but they found it tough getting space and time against Watford's renowned resilience.

Twice in the opening minutes Steven Gerrard was almost clear in the box but the giant frame of Danny Shittu managed to get in the way. That proved the story of the first period.

Watford have won praise for the work ethic and desire, and the ball spent an awful long time in the air as their set-piece routines fell into Liverpool's defence, who did not always deal well with the tactic.

But Bellamy was causing immense problems with his pace at the other end. He gave Jay DeMerit a torrid time but his efforts to set up colleagues failed to produce the breakthrough.

Bellamy saw a fierce shot strike DeMerit following a John Arne Riise run and cross before Dirk Kuyt was next into the act with a low drive that Foster pushed away.

But for all Liverpool's dominance, Watford missed a sitter on 39 minutes when Jose Reina fumbled away a cross from Ashley Young, and unmarked Alhassan Bangura scooped the loose ball over the bar from 10 yards.

Then Agger ran 50 yards from deep unchecked before firing in a drive that Foster fumbled, but Garcia could not guide the rebound into an empty net.

But Watford's resistance lasted just a couple of minutes of the second period when Kuyt's touch sent Gerrard storming through the middle, and his neat pass found Bellamy on the edge of the box.

He was fractionally onside and turned to control the ball and lift it over Foster for his sixth goal of the season.

Watford sent on Anthony McNamee to play on the left, Darius Henderson making way with Hameur Bouazza moving up front - the visitors looking for width and pace to try to salvage something from the game.

And it almost came on 63 minutes when Tommy Smith got down the right and fired over a cross that Young met with a flicked header, Reina touching the ball over the bar.

Liverpool then sent on Gonzalez for Jermaine Pennant on 65 minutes and with his first touch he sent Bellamy away, just failing with a header when the Welshman's shot bounced up off Foster.

Jamie Carragher, who scored his first league goal since 1999 last weekend, almost added another on 74 minutes when he peeled off at the back post on to a Gerrard corner. He hit a fierce volley that Foster somehow managed to palm over the bar from point-blank range.

On 81 minutes Bellamy was replaced by Peter Crouch, while Watford sent on Damien Francis for Bangura, and Crouch hit the post from a Garcia pass on 85 minutes.

It seemed Liverpool could not settle things but with two minutes left that elusive goal arrived.

Kuyt raced down the left and with his second attempt, slipped the ball back for Alonso fire in a spectacular 25-yarder into the top corner.

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Thor Zakariassen