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
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
"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
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,"
"The goals were both mistakes by us that could have been
"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
"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
"We will bounce back, we have to. But we know that competing
well is not enough, we must score goals when the chances
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
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
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
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
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
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.