delighted by Voronin impact
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was full of
praise for Andriy Voronin after he starred in the 3-1 Asia
Trophy win over South China in Hong Kong.
The Ukraine international, a free transfer from Bayer
Leverkusen this summer, completed his first full 90 minutes
for his new club in front of 36,000 fans.
He won a penalty, put away by Xabi Alonso, and produced a
work rate in intense heat that impressed Benitez, who
witnessed further goals from Daniel Agger and John Arne
Benitez said on Sky Sports 1: "Voronin has started well for
us. He has 'game', intelligence and he has fitted well into
"It is early for him, but we knew he was a very good player
and, when you have better players around, normally you play
Benitez also accepted second-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson
could have done better with the first-half goal he conceded
from fully 40 yards, while maintaining a 'wait and see'
stance in the saga over the possible signing of Manchester
United full-back Gabriel Heinze.
Benitez added: "Their goal was strange, Scott Carson was not
expecting it, a shot from so far out that hard. It was a
surprise, and I am sure he will be disappointed with that.
"As a keeper, when you concede any goal you are
disappointed, but particularly when it is that kind of goal.
"I am sure he will bounce back from that, it is just one
mistake, nothing important."
On the Heinze situation, with Liverpool having had a
£5.8million offer rejected by United, Benitez said: "We sent
in an offer for Heinze, and they rejected it. Now the
lawyers have to talk. The agent has called in the lawyers,
everybody knows the situation now all around the world."
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been critical of the part
played in the proposed deal by Heinze's agent, with the
player and Liverpool claiming a letter exists stating the
defender can leave Old Trafford if anyone makes a
United do not want to sell to their biggest local rivals,
and Benitez said: "I would rather now wait and see what
Liverpool play Portsmouth in the final on Friday, the
Hampshire club having won their match 1-0 against Fulham.
Victory and Final in Asia
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo with the Reds in Hong
Liverpool maintained their one hundred per
cent pre-season record with a hard-working 3-1 victory over
South China in Hong Kong today.
Goals from John Arne Riise, Xabi Alonso and Daniel Agger
secured Rafa Benitez’s side a place in Friday’s Asia Trophy
final against Portsmouth.
However, there was disappointment for the legions of Hong
Kong fans who were denied a chance to see the club’s
multi-million pound new signings due to red tape.
Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel were forced to sit out the
game because they’re still awaiting international clearance
to play in a Premier League endorsed tournament.
Liverpool were also without skipper Steven Gerrard, who’s
nursing a stomach injury.
There was a surprise recall, however, for Harry Kewell who’d
joined the squad straight from the Asia Cup in Vietnam.
Riise maintained his impressive summer form with a trademark
free-kick on eight minutes.
The Norwegian blasted into the roof of the net from 20
yards, giving keeper Zhang Chunhai no hope.
When Alonso coolly converted a penalty after the tireless
Andriy Voronin was dragged down in the box on 27 minutes, a
rout looked possible.
But the plucky Hong Kong champions stunned Liverpool with a
40-yard free-kick from skipper Li Haiqiang, embarrassing
Scott Carson with a goal reminiscent of Ronaldinho’s against
David Seaman in the 2002 World Cup.
The hosts enjoyed much of the possession for an hour as the
humid conditions clearly took their toll on Benitez’s side.
The Liverpool boss tried to freshen his team up ten minutes
into the second half when Dirk Kuyt and Jermaine Pennant
replaced Crouch and Kewell. The changes worked.
Kuyt should have made an instant impact but shot wastefully
over the bar after being found by Alvaro Arbeloa’s right
Then the Dutchman nearly created a deserved strike for
Voronin who headed over Kuyt’s cross from close range on 70
Although 95 per cent of the enthusiastic crowd was
supporting Liverpool, they displayed signs of fickleness as
the game progressed.
Poor Sissoko was given an especially hard time after
squandering possession on several occasions, and was
eventually subbed for Sami Hyypia, playing an unfamiliar
central midfield role.
Liverpool managed to put the game safe with the move of the
match on 74 minutes. It was started and finished by Agger,
who sent Riise clear on the left after dribbling the ball
Riise’s cross was neatly teed up for the Dane by Kuyt, and
Agger hit an unstoppable left footer to secure Liverpool’s
Kuyt, Voronin and Pennant nearly added goals in the closing
stages as the gulf in class grew towards the final whistle.