After The Match 


Portsmouth-Liverpool 2-1 (2-0)      28.4. 07                        PL
Goals: Hyypia (58)            Benjani (27), Kranjcar (32)
Team: Dudek, Insua, Hyypia, Paletta, Arbeloa, Zenden, Alonso, Sissoko, Gonzalez, Bellamy, Fowler
Subs: Pennant (Gonzalez 66), El Zhar (Sissoko 82)
Not used: Hobbs, Kuyt, Padelli
Yellow: Alonso (45)           Hughes (43)
Red: None
Referee: P Walton
Attendance: 20,201
Shots on target: 5-3
Shots off target: 2-6
Blocked shots: 2-2
Possession: 51-49
Fouls conceded: 12-9
Corners: 7-6
Offsides: 7-5
Yellow: 1-1
HEADLINES "The first half performance was very disappointing."
    Rafael Benitez

3004: Hyypia keen to prolong his Anfield career
2804: Redknapp: Reds team a boost
2804: Rafa bemoans mistakes
2804: Pompey punish rotated Reds 


Hyypia keen to prolong his Anfield career

By Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post

Sami Hyypia revealed that his determination to continue being a Liverpool player was the motivation behind his performance at Fratton Park in Saturday.

The Finn’s 400th game in English football since joining Liverpool in 1999 ended in a 2-1 defeat but Hyypia marked the occasion with what turned out to be his side’s consolation goal.

And it was his desire to make the most of what this season has become an increasingly rare first-team opportunity that lifted the 33-year-old’s game to a level few of his team-mates could match in a game that quickly pales into significance ahead of the Champions League semi-final decider against Chelsea tomorrow.

“I was very fired up,” said Hyypia. “I have not been in the team regularly, so it was a chance for me to show I still belong in the club.

“But it only takes a few people not being up for it from the start, then you don’t play well.

“I enjoyed scoring, but you can’t be happy that you have lost.”

Hyypia was one of seven players brought in from the side that lost 1-0 to Chelsea in Wednesday’s first leg but he insisted Rafael Benitez fielded a side good enough to take something from the game.

He added: “The two semi-finals are much more important than this game, but we still wanted to win, and I don’t think the manager fielded the kind of side he thought would lose.

“There was no disrespect to Portsmouth, but that is how it is, and I am sure the boys back home enjoyed their rest. Now they will be fired up for Tuesday.

“Chelsea rested some players as well, but they are fighting with United for the title, so it was different for them. But Benitez fielded the side he thought would win the game and I am sure Mourinho felt the same.

“Hopefully we can learn from the mistakes in this game and concentrate of Tuesday. Yes, we can score two goals. It is going to be tough, and Chelsea have a little bit of an advantage, but if we score one, and then still have to play half for half an hour or more, then anything can happen.

“If we can create the same atmosphere that was there when we last played Chelsea in the semi-final then we have a good chance to win the game, and give something back to the fans.”

Former Chelsea man Bolo Zenden, one of only four survivors from the first leg who played at Fratton Park, added: “We are concentrating on the game on Tuesday but it doesn’t man you want to come here and get beaten.

“It was difficult in the first half for a few of the players who came in.

“Maybe they were a little bit nervous, knowing it was a big opportunity for them. Maybe some of them thought it was their first and last chance to impress, so there was a lot of pressure and it doesn’t make it easy for them.”

Redknapp: Reds team a boost

By Chris Stanton - Sky Sports

Harry Redknapp was delighted to see Rafa Benitez field a weakened Liverpool team at Portsmouth, as Pompey kept up their European charge with a 2-1 win.

Reds deputy Jerzy Dudek was at fault for Benjani Mwaruwari's opener before Niko Kranjcar doubled Pompey's lead.

Redknapp admitted it was a backs-to-the-wall performance after Sami Hyypia's second half goal had halved his team's arrears.

"Of course I was pleased to see the side Liverpool put out," said Redknapp.

"You are pleased not to be facing the likes of Gerrard and Carragher and Kuyt but he (Benitez) has finished with Pennant and Sissoko wide, Alonso and Zenden in the centre and Sami Hyypia is still a very good centre half.

"We've had some big home wins but we had to hang on a bit today in the second half when Liverpool used Bellamy and Fowler up front.

"Until they pushed Bellamy through the middle, though, I didn't think we had many problems."

The win means Pompey remain in seventh - a position that would be good enough to ensure automatic qualification for next season's Uefa Cup.

"It is still going to be very close. Tottenham are favourites for seventh spot with the game in hand and we have two tough games to finish [away to Everton and home to Arsenal]. Whatever happens it will be a great season for us."

Rafa bemoans mistakes

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez blamed two mistakes for his side's 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth.

First-half goals from Benjani Mwaruwari and substitute Niko Kranjcar gave Portsmouth a commanding lead.

Jerzy Dudek was to blame for Benjani's opening goal, while the Liverpool defence was all at sea as Kranjcar was afforded too much time and space to score

Sami Hyypia pulled a goal back in the second half for a much-changed Liverpool line-up, but they could not find an equalising goal as they fell to defeat.

Benitez was unhappy with the manner of the goals his side conceded as they went down to Pompey.

"The first half performance was very disappointing," said Benitez. "We were controlling things in the first 20 minutes and we had chances on the counter attack, but we conceded two stupid goals from two big mistakes."

"The first goal was unbelievable. It was just a long goal kick forward and we have to analyze what went wrong. In the second half we showed a lot more character and desire and we were much better.

"We were doing the right things and creating chances and maybe we deserved something out of the game. But you can't afford to make some of the mistakes we did today.

Liverpool improved in the second half and Benitez was happy with his side's showing in the second period.

"We said to the players before the game it was a chance for some of them to show what they can do and it was pleasing to see a much better second half display," added Benitez.

Pompey punish rotated Reds


Goals from Benjani Mwaruwari and Niko Kranjcar gave Portsmouth a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in Saturday's Premiership clash at Fratton Park.

Although Sami Hyypia netted for Liverpool, manager Rafael Benitez's decision to rest seven stars did not help their cause.

Harry Redknapp's team boosted their own European ambitions with this win over Benitez's men, who play the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.

Pompey are up to seventh place in the league - and if they finish there, they will earn a UEFA Cup place next season.

Benitez's men are in danger of being overhauled for third place by Arsenal - as he turns his attentions to Europe and hopes his first-choice team can come from behind against Jose Mourinho's men at Anfield.

Despite the absence of Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise and goalkeeper Jose Reina, Benitez's policy seemed to be paying off in the opening 20 minutes.

Pompey - minus Achilles victim Sol Campbell - failed to live up to a vibrant start when their visitors looked vulnerable in the air to high crosses.

Although Robbie Fowler was denied by an offside flag after latching onto Boudewijn Zenden's pass and clipping the ball over David James, Liverpool's deficiencies and lack of individual Premiership experience began to show.

A near-miss by Gary O'Neil should have been a warning as Jerzy Dudek went full length to keep out the midfielder's curling low 26th-minute shot - with on-loan Argentinian Emilanio Insua left on his backside on his debut.

But it was Dudek's hesitancy which handed the outstanding Benjani the breakthrough for Portsmouth a minute later.

A big clearance from former Liverpool goalkeeper David James bounced outside the Reds penalty area and stand-in centre-back Gabriel Paletta appeared to let it go.

But Dudek had not come quickly enough off his line and Benjani bravely stuck his head in and nodded the ball over the goalkeeper for his sixth goal of the season.

It was 2-0 five minutes later.

Kanu did well to feed Lauren out on the right and the Cameroon player's long crossfield ball put in substitute Kranjcar as Liverpool appealed for offside.

The Croatian, who had come on 11 minutes earlier for the injured Matthew Taylor, advanced and stroked the ball past Dudek with his right foot just before Alvaro Arbeloa could get in a recovery tackle.

Liverpool camped in Pompey's half for the rest of the first period but Zenden's half-volley from 25 yards cannoned back off the crossbar after beating James in the 44th minute.

Liverpool's anguish was underlined when Xabi Alonso was booked for dissent at a free-kick in first-half stoppage-time.

But it looked like they might save the game when, after a brighter start to the second half, Finnish defender Hyypia headed in a Fowler corner at the near post in the 59th minute.

Dudek's save two minutes earlier had denied Benjani a second goal after he pounced on another error by Paletta.

Pompey never quite settled for complete caution after the break as a clearly-chastened Liverpool finally stepped on the gas.

The scorching south-coast temperatures, touching 72 Fahrenheit at the start, dragged energy from legs and the game never really developed as a classic.

But James had to make a typically brave save at the feet of Fowler just before the end - after substitute striker Lomana LuaLua had a debatable penalty claim turned down at the other end.

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Thor Zakariassen ©