Steven Gerrard celebrates his goal
and three points. (Photo: AFP)
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
After going a goal up in the first half, Liverpool were
pegged back by rock bottom Derby and looked set to drop two
But Steven Gerrard popped up in the 90th minute to give them
a hard earned victory which keeps them in touch with the
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
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
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."
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."
Jewell: We showed some guts
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
A rare goal from defender James McEveley had cancelled out
Fernando Torres' early opener as The Rams battled back after
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
"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
Rams raided by
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
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
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
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.