After The Match 

            


Derby-Liverpool 1-2 (0-1)          26.12.07                            PL
Goals: Torres (11), Gerrard (90)         McEveley (67)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Aurelio, Carragher, Hyypia, Gerrard, Alonso, Babel, Riise, Voronin, Torres
Subs: Benayoun (Hyypia 53), Kuyt (Babel 71), Lucas (Voronin 90)
Not used: Itandje, Mascherano
Yellow: McEveley (71)
Red: None
Referee: Alan Wiley
Attendance: 33,029
 
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 4-6
Shots off target: 6-14
Blocked shots: 1-3
Fouls conceded: 11-12
Corners: 2-7
Offsides: 7-2
Possession: 37.6-62.4
Yellow: 1-0
Red:
 
0-0
HEADLINES "At the end, Gerrard's inspiration
was the key."
Rafael Benitez

2712: Alonso: Fighting spirit saw us through
2612: Rafa hails Gerrard influence
2612: Jewell: We showed some guts
2612: Rams raided by last-gasp Gerrard

 



Steven Gerrard celebrates his goal
and three points. (Photo: AFP)

DECEMBER 27
Alonso: Fighting spirit saw us through

By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo

Xabi Alonso today insisted Liverpool's never say die attitude was behind their last-gasp win at Derby.

After going a goal up in the first half, Liverpool were pegged back by rock bottom Derby and looked set to drop two vital points.

But Steven Gerrard popped up in the 90th minute to give them a hard earned victory which keeps them in touch with the Premiership leaders.

And though disappointed with Liverpool's second half performance, Alonso was delighted with their fighting spirit and their refusal to accept a draw which would have left their title hopes hanging by a thread.

"We never gave up hope," he said. "Whether it was Stevie or whoever we knew that we could win the game.

"We kept going forward and pushing and time was running out but we got the goal.

"We had had chances before that though and it is important that we do not put ourselves in that position again by taking our chances.

"It was a great effort by Stevie and it was very important for the team and now we have to look forward to the next game."

Alonso was at a loss to explain Liverpool's Jekyll and Hyde performance which saw them dominate the opening 45 minutes only to then struggle to impose themselves on the second half.

But he believes one of the main reasons was their failure to keep possession as much as they would have liked.

He said: "The first half was a good one in terms of the football we played and we probably should have scored more goals and killed the game.

"But in the second half we struggled a bit. We should have kept the ball a bit more and we conceded a bad goal."

Alonso was one of the Redsí star performers on his return to Premier League action after a metatarsal injury.

"It has been frustrating for me to be sat in the directors box watching games instead of taking part, but now I am happy to be involved again and I am looking forward to the next few games."


DECEMBER 26
Rafa hails Gerrard influence

By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez praised
the 'inspiration' of Steven Gerrard in keeping his side's Premier League title challenge alive.


The Reds appeared to be heading for a 1-1 draw with Derby at Pride Park after Fernando Torres' opener was cancelled out by James McEveley.

However, Liverpool captain Gerrard was on hand to strike a 90th minute winner and Benitez believes the victory will give his side confidence.

Liverpool travel to Manchester City, who have won all their home league games this season, on Sunday and Benitez is eyeing another three point haul.

"We conceded in the second half from a mistake and from then on it was really difficult," said Benitez.

"At the end, Gerrard's inspiration was the key.

"We have three points, we have to think about City and see where we are after this period.

"We know they (Man City) will be difficult but we have confidence. They have a very good record at home but we will try to change that."


DECEMBER 26
Jewell: We showed some guts

Sky Sports

Derby boss Paul Jewell still had something to cheer about at Christmas despite seeing his side go down
2-1 to a late Steven Gerrard winner at Pride Park.


The Liverpool captain deflected in a clearance in the 90th minute to deny the hosts what would have been a deserved point for a battling display, particularly in the second half.

A rare goal from defender James McEveley had cancelled out Fernando Torres' early opener as The Rams battled back after the break.

Despite Gerrard's late goal Jewell insists there are positive signs for the future, even if Derby are rooted to the foot of the table.

"I was disappointed at half time because I felt we were scared of Liverpool," the former Wigan manager said.

"But in the second half we showed some fight and some guts. In the second half we got amongst them, you're never going to 'out football' Liverpool but we can make it difficult for them. The crowd really appreciated that.

"We got the ball in the box and we scrapped and we harried and got a goal from it. At 1-1 we had a few half chances, Giles Barnes heading just over, so there's a lot to be pleased about.

"Since I've been here our performances have improved, though we've got a long, long way to go.

"We're not anywhere near where we should be, but that's why I'm here for the long term."

Derby also suffered injury blows in the game, losing Stephen Pearson to a shoulder injury in the first half while Darren Moore had to be replaced at half time.

With Robert Earnshaw then picking up a knock after coming on as a sub, Jewell admits he will have to survey the walking wounded before picking a team to face Blackurn on Saturday.

"We've lost three players today, and with the size of our squad we just can't afford that," he confessed."

"We'll be counting bodies tomorrow ahead of the Blackburn match."


DECEMBER 26
Rams raided by last-gasp Gerrard

TEAMtalk

Steven Gerrard rammed home a late winner for Liverpool as Rafa Benitez's charges edged out battling Derby 2-1 at Pride Park.

Liverpool had been comfortably the better side in the first half and Fernando Torres scored his 15th goal in 18 games.

But following on from their outstanding efforts to force a draw at Newcastle at the weekend, injury-ravaged Derby showed magnificent spirit to force their way back into the game with a second-half equaliser from Jay McEveley.

They battered away at Liverpool for much of the second period, with rookie goalkeeper Lewis Price outstanding even if his side finished with 10 fit men - Robert Earnshaw was by then a limping passenger.

Liverpool at times were dreadful, but captain Gerrard showed how to fight by instigating an 80-yard move, finishing it off by bundling the ball past Price in the dying minutes.

Derby believed they had good shouts for two late penalties, but they ended with nothing.

Derby's cause was not helped when they were hit by the late loss of goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, who suffered a shoulder injury in the draw at Newcastle at the weekend.

Liverpool made five changes from the side that beat Portsmouth on Saturday, with Steve Finnan, Andriy Voronin, Fabio Aurelio, Ryan Babel and Xabi Alonso coming into the side, but it was still awesome opposition for young Price.

A string of free-kicks, planted into the box by McEveley, caused some concern for the visitors.

And when Gary Teale fired in a left-wing cross on seven minutes, Steve Howard's aerial pressure created a chance for Kenny Miller to fire over from an acute angle.

But one flash of genius after 12 minutes saw Liverpool go ahead.

Torres took a pass from Babel, pushed the ball through Darren Moore's legs before side-stepping Dean Leacock and blasting a 15-yard strike past the helpless Price.

But Derby's injury woes soon got worse. Two home players collided on 24 minutes, leaving Stephen Pearson hurt. Liverpool stormed away and Babel should have scored when John Arne Riise's cross reached him at the far post. But the effort finished in the crowd.

Pearson eventually received treatment was led away with a damaged right arm, Michael Johnson coming on as substitute, slotting in as centre-back with Leacock moving into midfield.

Derby replaced Moore with American midfielder Benny Feilhaber at the break, another injury problem for Jewell.

But after 53 minutes Liverpool lost Sami Hyypia, the big defender limping away, Yossi Benayoun coming on. Riise moved into the centre of defence, and with Daniel Agger still not fit, Liverpool now could have serious problems in central defence.

Jamie Carragher was then felled by a poor Howard challenge, and Jewell almost immediately sent on striker Earnshaw to try to exploit the problems now at the heart of Liverpool's back line with his pace.

Derby had dominated the opening exchanges of the second half with Giles Barnes coming into the game.

Price saved well to his left from an Alonso effort, but Derby still came forward with belief and a ferocity in the challenge that forced Liverpool back.

And from a 67th-minute free-kick, Derby were level to send Pride Park wild. Eddie Lewis lifted a free-kick into the box from the right and it was allowed to bounce around before McEveley fired past Jose Reina.

McEveley was then booked for a foul on Voronin before Liverpool sent on Dirk Kuyt for Babel. Gerrard fired wide from the edge of the box, before more injury problems hit Derby with Earnshaw's injury.

Price made a stunning save to turn away an Alonso 30-yard strike after 82 minutes, and then Torres fired high over as Liverpool continued to come forward.

Barnes missed with a close-range diving header, the game now on a knife-edge as Liverpool came forward in desperation.

Gerrard hit the bar from 20 yards before he put Liverpool ahead in the 89th minute.

Price made another fine save from Torres, but the ball bounced out for the Liverpool skipper to force home, having started the move 80 yards away in his own half.


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