After The Match 


Liverpool-Wolves 2-0 (0-0)            26.12.09                        PL
Goals: Gerrard (62), Benayoun (70)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Aquilani, Lucas, Benayoun, Gerrard, Aurelio, Torres
Subs: Kuyt (Aurelio 76), Pacheco (Aquilani 84),
Spearing (Benayoun 88)
Not used: Cavalieri, Ngog, Darby, Skrtel
Yellow: Ward (48, 53)
Red: Ward (53)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 41,956
Shots on target: 8-1
Shots off target: 5-4
Blocked shots: 5-0
Fouls conceded: 9-10
Corners: 7-1
Offsides: 3-0
Possession: 67.5-32.5
Yellow: 0-2

HEADLINES “It was just all about waiting for that breakthrough."
Steven Gerrard
2612: Morgan blames Moores for Anfield chaos
2612: McCarthy grumbles at dismissal
2612: Rafa: Record breaker can turn season
2612: Gerrard relieved after win
2612: Win over Wolves gives Reds relief

Morgan blames Moores
for Anfield chaos

By Chris Bascombe - News of the World

David Moores has been accused of triggering the Anfield chaos by 'putting his own interests before
the club'.

Wolves owner Steve Morgan, whose side faced the Merseysiders yesterday, laid the blame for the current turmoil on Liverpool's Life President for selling to the American owners.

Morgan's efforts to buy Liverpool for £100million were rebuffed in 2004 before then-chairman Moores sold to Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr.

And the resentment between the former rivals is still simmering.

Morgan blasted: "I've no wish to get involved in a slanging match with David Moores, but the fact is he wanted the best for David Moores and not for the club.

"He was entitled to do that but it's his decision which has led to the situation Liverpool are in now.

"What I find unfortunate is I saw what could happen and predicted it. That's all on record at the time. You can't have that level of debt and move a football club forward.

"My fear is if they miss out on the Champions League they'll be even more short of money.

"The best players like Fernando Torres will want to leave. And even Steven Gerrard, who has given everything for the club for the last 10 years, will be considering his future.

"It was an emotional day for me to go to Anfield yesterday, especially with my son as a mascot, but I'm 100 per cent committed to Wolves now."

One of Morgan's backers when he made his bid five years ago was Anfield's new managing director Christian Purslow.

The Scouse-born Molineux chief reckons Purslow offers the best hope of resolving the on-going ownership crisis. He said: "Christian and I have been friends for the last six years. I remember he spoke very well at an AGM and we met up afterwards.

"From a business point of view, they couldn't have found anyone better to try and sort out their problems. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for them, except when they're playing Wolves, of course."

While Liverpool struggle to keep pace with the Champions League contenders, Morgan has set his own boss Mick McCarthy the ambition of a mid-table finish.

"I wouldn't be happy finishing fourth from bottom," said Morgan.

"I'll be happy with a mid-table position. I'd consider that a success.

"The last thing I want is an exciting last weekend where we are in the mix to stay up. I hope by the end of the season we're involved in boring games where relegation is not an issue."

McCarthy grumbles at dismissal

By Elliot Ball - Sky Sports

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy did not agree with Rafa Benitez that Stephen Ward deserved to be given his marching orders in the Boxing Day 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

McCarthy did not echo the views of his Spanish counterpart as Ward saw red for a tug on Lucas Leiva in the second half which saw him given a second yellow card amidst plenty of controversy.

Originally referee Andre Marriner gave Christoph Berra the yellow card, but after appeals - including a 90-yard dash from Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina - Marriner consulted his assistant and sent the Wolves left-back on his way.

Although McCarthy confessed the West Midlanders were "masters of their own downfall" the he still lamented the decision.

"I've just had a look at our replay and I don't think it's a sending-off," he said. "I don't think he caught him. I think he's running out of space and he's fallen over.

"I don't know if he got any help from the fourth official, from Phil Dowd, but if he did I just wonder about getting a bit of help for the Irish team in France, because I didn't think you could do it.

"I guess once he's made up his mind it's a booking for Berra he's got to get the book out for Ward. I've seen it, I just don't think he caught him."

McCarthy was proud of his players' performance despite the defeat.

"I'm really proud of the way we played," added McCarthy of his side, who defended resolutely until the 62nd minute when Steven Gerrard grabbed the lead before Yossi Benayoun wrapped up the three points eight minutes later.

"I think the fans showed they were proud of the effort. It's all hinged on a decision that's really changed the game.

"You need a break sometimes. Liverpool were desperately in need of a break and I think they've been given one because we were down to 10 men.

"We contained them. We didn't look in any danger. It's hard work playing against them (even) with 11."

Rafa: Record breaker can turn season

By Jimmy Rice at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez claimed an in-form Steven Gerrard can transform Liverpool's season after the skipper fired himself into the history books with a goal in the 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Boxing Day.

It was Gerrard's 75th league goal of the decade - lifting him above Michael Owen on 74 to become Liverpool's top scorer in the Noughties.

Benitez is hopeful his No.8 will now embark on a purple patch to get his tally for the next decade up and running.

He said: "It was very important for us and for him. If he can score goals again he will have more confidence and that will be really good for the team."

The result gives Liverpool some momentum heading into a crunch clash at Villa Park on December 29.

Benitez added: "We have to win, we won. We kept a clean sheet, scored two goals and created chances. We have to go forward now.

"The main thing was to get three points and now we have to be ready. The fans can enjoy three or four days and we can see if we can beat Aston Villa. Then we'll be closer.

"The second half we started really well, pressing and some corners. We were doing the right things, especially at the beginning of the second half.

"We know it's a long race but we have to start winning games in a row. We have won today and hopefully we can win the next one, then it'll be easy to keep the confidence high."

Alberto Aquilani started his first Premier League game, spraying some lovely passes around the Anfield turf before being substituted with 10 minutes to go.

Benitez said: "Aquilani was okay. He was trying to be involved, trying to receive the ball and pass the ball.

"The match fitness is something that will improve with games and the Premier League is also difficult so he'll settle down little by little."

The Italian is likely to be given more pitch time thanks to Javier Mascherano's suspension.

And Benitez is now assessing his midfield line-up for Villa, with Lucas playing on Boxing Day despite a slight knock.

"We had some problems before," said the gaffer. "We will see because some of them were a little bit tired. We have three days - sometimes that's enough, but when people are tired you have to manage carefully.

"Mascherano is not available for three or four games so maybe Aquilani will have more time."

Gerrard relieved after win

Irish Examiner

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admitted his relief after his fine opening goal set up a 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Wolves.

Second-half goals from Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun gave nervy Liverpool a victory that was only secured once Wolves had been reduced to 10 men.

Gerrard told ESPN: “Wolves come here organised, they were always going to be difficult to beat.

“It was just all about waiting for that breakthrough. We were nervous at times, the crowd were getting on our backs at times. But we knew if we had the belief it would come, and it did.

“When you’re not getting the results you expect it’s always going to affect confidence.

“But we want to put it right. The players are hurting at the moment. If we keep showing the attitude we did today we’ll move up to where we want to be.”

Defender Jamie Carragher conceded the dismissal of Stephen Ward had assisted the Reds’ cause.

Ward was eventually penalised for a second bookable offence, referee Andre Marriner at first getting the wrong man and cautioning Christophe Berra.

Liverpool players persuaded the official to check with a linesman, the error was corrected and the hosts were able to take full advantage of the situation.

Carragher said: “Wolves played very well first half, were very well organised and caught us on the counter-attack a couple of times. The sending-off obviously gave us a helping hand.

“Once you get the first (goal) it settles people down but I think the second one killed the game, especially when they had 10 men. That’s what we needed because we’re not fully confident at the moment so it certainly settled the nerves.”

Win over Wolves gives Reds relief


Liverpool scrambled their way to a much-needed 2-0 home win over Wolves on Boxing Day as the pressure lifted slightly from the Anfield club.

It was never going to be simple against an organised Wolves side, with the three Premier League points only being secured after the Midlanders were reduced to 10 men when defender Stephen Ward was sent-off.

Even that was a bizarre decision, with referee Andre Marriner at first getting the wrong man, booking Christophe Berra before his error was pointed out by a pack of Liverpool players who made sure that Ward was punished for a second bookable offence.

From that point Liverpool took over, and goals from Steven Gerrard - only his fifth of the season - and a deflected Yossi Benayoun effort gave them victory.

Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani was finally included in a Liverpool league starting line-up, his previous apperances having been from the bench.

The £20m international had recovered from a calf injury, with Liverpool also recalling Fabio Aurelio and Benayoun.

Javier Mascherano was suspended, while Dirk Kuyt was rested on the bench with Andrea Dossena dropped from the match day squad.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, who controversially made ten changes from his team at Manchester United last month, this time fielded an unchanged team from the one that beat Burnley last weekend to vindicate that Old Trafford decision.

More through luck than design, this was Liverpool's most attacking line-up in ages with Benayoun wide, Aquilani providing neat touches from midfield and only Lucas Leiva as a holding player.

After the abject defeat at Portsmouth last weekend, Liverpool needed to do something to restore any level of belief in their fans.

And they started well with Aurelio's free-kick testing Marcus Hahnemann, before Glen Johnson chipped wide of the far post.

Steven Gerrard had a go from 20 yards and Fernando Torres, only eight yards out, kept the American goalkeeper on his toes.

But Wolves, growing in confidence now in the top flight, are organised, compact and resolute. And they slowly imposed themselves on a game that became increasingly difficult for Liverpool.

On the break Wolves were always dangerous. Jose Reina needed to be alert to keep out a shot on the turn from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and had to touch over a Nenad Milijas free-kick.

Anxiety is never far from Liverpool's defence these days, and Kevin Doyle's header wide from a corner and a 20-yarder from Milijas had the hosts worried.

Wolves could sense the unease, and Liverpool were failing to keep possession as they tried to put together quick-passing moves.

Hahnemann saved well when Johnson found space in the box for a low drive, but generally Liverpool struggled desperately to create significant openings.

Liverpool started the second period with greater resolve and one decent passing movement created space for Gerrard to let fly, Hahnemann saving to his left.

Then six minutes into the half came the key moment in the match when referee Marriner got himself into a terrible mess after a second foul in quick succession by Ward.

Firstly he was booked for pulling back Benayoun after 48 minutes, then three minutes later he hauled down Lucas.

But the West Midlands official initially booked Berra for that second offence before a posse of Liverpool players persuaded him to consult a linesman, who pointed out the error.

Reina was booed from then on by the Wolves fans for racing 80 yards to get involved in the debate.

Ward was eventually called forward and shown a second yellow card and a red, putting Wolves down to ten men.

And it did not take Liverpool to take the lead. It came after 62 minutes when Emiliano Insua got down the left to cross for Gerrard to climb above Milijas and head powerfully past Hahnemann.

The Serbian was replaced before the restart, Michael Mancienne coming on to further re-enforce Wolves' defence, with striker Chris Iwelumo replacing Ebanks-Blake.

But the balance had swung now to Liverpool, and even a home side still way short of their best were not going to waste this opportunity for a much-needed win.

Benayoun settled the issue with a deflected drive off Karl Henry for the second after 70 minutes.

Kuyt came on for Aurelio with 14 minutes left, with teenager Daniel Pacheco replacing a tiring Aquilani after 84 minutes.

Jay Spearing then took over from Benayoun, a relieved Liverpool having secured a much-needed victory.

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