After The Match 


Liverpool-Newcastle 2-0 (2-0)         26.12.05                     PL
Goals: Gerrard (14), Crouch (43)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia, Kewell, Crouch, Morientes
Subs: Pongolle (Kewell 67), Cisse (Crouch 72), Josemi (Finnan 79)
Not used: Carson, Warnock
Yellow: Crouch (66)
Red: Bowyer (66)
Referee: Mark Halsey
Attendance: 44,197
Shots on target: 9-1
Shots off target: 10-0
Possession: 62-38
Fouls conceded: 9-13
Corners: 7-4
Yellow: 1-0


HEADLINES "I am happy with the performance of the team..."
    Rafael Benitez

2612: Souness: Bowyer risked red card
2612: Benitez satisfied with victory
2612: Reds make it magic eight


Reason to celebrate - but not for Owen.

Souness: Bowyer risked red card

Sporting Life

Graeme Souness refused to defend midfielder Lee Bowyer after the former England international was sent off in Newcastle's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.

Bowyer was sent off in the second half for a bad foul on Xabi Alonso, and after referee Mark Halsey had calmed down a melee of players, he sent off Bowyer and only booked Liverpool's Peter Crouch who had shoved the Newcastle man to the floor.

Souness said: "I am not ducking the issue because I have not really seen everything that went on.

"But I am being told by others who have seen it that there should have been more than one red card in that incident.

"My only thought is that when you raise both your feet off the ground these days in a tackle, then you are facing trouble.

"I think, especially away from home, when you lift your feet and launch yourself at someone you are risking everything. That's the game today. Especially away from home."

But although Souness declined to specifically name Crouch, he was clearly concerned that other players in the incident and melee that followed, escaped serious censure.

He said: "I don't think that Bowyer was the only one who should have had a red card.

"I am not referring to anyone, I did not see it clearly. But some of the guys sitting near me on the touchline who did see it felt that there should maybe have been another seeing the red card.

"But that has not affected the outcome. I've not seen it, I know people will say it was only a few yards away but when you're looking at other things in the game it's not always easy."

Owen, on his first game back at Anfield since his departure to Real Madrid 18 months ago, and his summer decision not to return to Merseyside, suffered some booing from the Kop and did not get the expected ovation from his former fans.

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard said: "I am disappointed with that, he should be a legend here for all the goals he has scored for Liverpool in the past.

"He got a mixed reception, which is disappointing. I do not think they were booing him much but he deserves a standing ovation for the goals he has scored."

Souness added: "I wasn't too aware of any crowd reaction to Michael, but if you went out on the street you will know that Liverpool supporters love Michael Owen."

On the game Souness added: "In the first half Liverpool were magnificent and we were poor. They had outstanding performances in the centre of midfield and they dominated.

"Our game plan didn't work and we were hoping, just maybe, that they would have a reaction to all the travelling they'd done to Japan and back. But it didn't happen.

"We were over-run in the first half and 2-0 at half time certainly didn't flatter them."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez's view on the incident was: "I was happy to see Xabi Alonso walking properly after that tackle, I didn't really see it because I was planning to change a player at the time.

"I didn't think what Crouch did was really important. For me what is important is to stop dangerous tackles.

"I didn't take him off to protect him, it was just to give him a rest. He is not the sort of player to get involved in things.

"I have also seen the TV pictures of his goal, I think it is his and not an own goal, he had the ball, tried to score and it went in."

Shay Given tipped Crouch's header onto the post and the ball rebounded only to hit the back of the Newcastle keeper's head and trickle over the line.

Benitez satisfied with victory

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez declared himself very satisfied with the performance of Liverpool in their 2-0 win over Newcastle and said the team is playing with a lot of confidence.

Benitez felt Liverpool should have scored more goals but was happy with another clean sheet and a good performance.

Benitez said: "I thought we played really well in the first half and created a lot of chances and we didn't give a chance to the opposition.

"I am happy with the performance of the team but we should have scored more goals and their goalkeeper played very well. I told the players at half-time to finish the game off but we couldn't get the third goal.

"We have confidence and we are playing really well and creating a lot of chances. In defence Sami, Carra, Steve Finnan and John Arne Riise did a good job but we are thinking always about winning and not about clean sheets and records. If you keep a clean sheet then you always have a chance for winning the game."

Reds make it magic eight

By Simon Yau - Sky Sports

Liverpool made it eight wins in a row in The Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle, who ended the match with ten men at Anfield following Lee Bowyer's dismissal.

Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch ensured The Reds suffered no ill-effects from their World Club Championship trip to Japan, with goals in the 14th and 43rd minutes earning Liverpool their 250th win in The Premiership, and also maintaining a run of eight clean sheets.

There was to be no fairytale return for England striker Michael Owen, who has enjoyed great success in this fixture in the past, but in the colours of The Reds.

Reds manager Rafael Benitez preferred the Crouch-Fernando Morientes axis in attack and the duo's blossoming partnership almost paid dividends in the opening minutes when they combined to set up Harry Kewell on the edge of the box. However, the Aussie lashed his shot high over the bar.

The Newcastle defence gifted an opening moments later when Celestine Babayaro's stray pass was pounced on by Morientes. The Spaniard burst past Jean-Alain Boumsong but saw his shot saved by the legs of Shay Given.

The Reds continued to dominate the early exchanges and on six minutes Given produced a brilliant reaction save to deny Kewell from close range. Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso dinked the ball into the box and Crouch's knock-down found the unmarked Antipodean, but his volley was palmed away instinctively by the Irish shot-stopper.

Newcastle's midfield found it difficult to get a foothold in the match and it was significant that Amdy Faye found himself hustled off the ball by Gerrard, and then later hacking down the England stalwart.

Liverpool's early dominance was finally rewarded on 14 minutes through another typical barnstorming run from captain Gerrard. The England powerhouse latched onto a neat lay-off from Crouch to blast past the helpless Given.

There had been early success for The Reds down the right flank through Luis Garcia and Steve Finnan, but Peter Ramage went to ground too early to let in Kewell on the opposite wing on 21 minutes. Crouch though could not apply the finishing touch to the move as his header was cleared from the six-yard area.

Newcastle's forays into the Liverpool half were few and far between but Ramage's raking ball beat the offside trap and Albert Luque's cross was tantalisingly over the head of Owen before John Arne Riise nodded over for the corner.

Luque caused discomfort for Jose Reina momentarily with his inswinging flag-kick before The Magpies were dealt a further blow when Steven Taylor came off worst from an aerial challenge with Morientes. Titus Bramble was thrown on as his replacement midway through the first period to mocking cheers from the Kop.

Babayaro, who only returned to the starting line-up after injury, fouled Garcia on the edge of his own box. And he was again thankful to his goalkeeper who palmed away Gerrard's resultant free kick that was arrowing in for the bottom corner.

The confidence that The Reds had gleaned from their winning run in the league became more evident after another flowing move. Gerrard produced another marauding run down the left wing before picking out a free Garcia, but he snatched at his shot.

There was brief retaliation once again from The Magpies but it was only from a long-range effort from Charles N'Zogbia.

Liverpool rounded off the first half in fine style when Given unluckily pushed a Crouch header onto the post but the ball rebounded into the net off his back.

Newcastle's defence continued to miss the runners and Garcia wasted a gilt-edged opening when he ballooned over from close range after good work from Morientes.

Nolberto Solano was drafted on for the ineffective N'Zogbia for the start of the second half. It would be defensively that Solano would make his first contribution as it was Liverpool who were on the offensive again.

Morientes leapt well to meet Gerrard's corner, however Solano blocked the header on the line with the aid of his arm, but official Mark Halsey waved away the following appeals.

The Magpies had more attacking intent in the second half but it was symptomatic of their day when Boumsong unwittingly deflected Shearer's goal-bound effort on 54 minutes. And Shearer was again frustrated moments later when he whipped the ball into the box but his strike partner Owen was nowhere near.

And things got worse for Newcastle when an opposing player was sent off for the second successive game at Anfield, (Chris Riggott from Middlesbrough the first) when Bowyer was given a straight red for a late lunge on Alonso.

Confrontations ensued following the tackle with Crouch shoving over the former Leeds player and he promptly received a yellow for his actions.

With the game beginning to peter out, Benitez opted for several changes with French duo Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Djibril Cisse coming on for Kewell and Crouch respectively. And later Josemi would come on for Finnan.

Late on Gerrard found Cisse free on the edge of Newcastle's penalty area but his shot was parried away by Given.

With the game stretched at the end Gerrard did not quite have his shooting boots on as he blazed over initially and then slashing wide.

There was even time in injury time for one last Morientes header but the effort was easily handled by Given.

The win keeps Liverpool in third place but 15 points behind leaders Chelsea.

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Thor Zakariassen