After The Match 

            


Liverpool-West Ham 2-0 (1-0)    29.10.05                            PL
Goals: Alonso (18), Zenden (82)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Garcia, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Cisse, Morientes
Subs: Zenden (Cisse 73), Crouch (Morientes 90)
Not used: Carson, Warnock, Hamann
Yellow: Morientes (50), Finnan (71)
Red: None
Referee: Uriah Rennie
Attendance: 44537
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 7-1
Shots off target: 8-2
Possession: 51-49
Fouls conceded: 16-13
Corners: 10-5
Yellow: 2-0
Red:

 

0-0
HEADLINES "I felt 'Nando' did a good job..."
    Rafael Bernitez

3110: Alonso: Spanish lads feel hurt too
3110: Cisse Factor in winning formula
3110: Sweet Alonso is Spanish high among the sighs
3010: Xabi underlines Reds desire
3010: Defiant Reds answer critics
3010: Pardew: I didn't feel we hurt them enough
2910: Reds enjoy welcome win

 


OCTOBER 31
Alonso: Spanish lads feel hurt too

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Xabi Alonso insisted Liverpool's Spanish stars feel the pain of defeats as much as the Kop's local heroes after helping the Reds to victory over the weekend.

The club's La Liga imports had their attitude and purchase questioned in several newspaper and TV reports on Saturday morning, but responded in the right way.

Alonso, Luis Garcia and Fernando Morientes shone in the 2-0 victory over West Ham.

Midfield playmaker Alonso said criticism was inevitable after successive defeats, but he didn't entirely agree with it.

He said: "You have to be calm. We are a big club and if you have a bad performance then you know you will be criticised.

"It is best to concentrate on improving and not to bother with what is written about you. But we all care. We all feel the disappointment, we all wear the shirt and know what that means.

"That is why we are all committed to the club and trying to do things as well as possible and to climb the table.

"You should have seen the dressing room after the Fulham game. Everyone was feeling down and that should end any suggestion we don't care. We know about the red shirt. We know the responsibilities about playing for the club and don't take them lightly.

He added: "It is my second season here but I really feel the pride of wearing a Liverpool shirt, I am fully committed to the club.

"Always there is something to prove. When situations like this arise you always have to show you are a good team, you understand that people will criticise and you accept it.

"So now after this win everyone is feeling better and we are aiming to win on Tuesday in the Champions League, and that will be two very important victories and will hopefully change peoples' opinion about us.."

Dutchman Bolo Zenden bagged his first goal for the club to kill the game in the final minutes.

Zenden said: "You have to give credit to West Ham because they came here with a very offensive attitude. Their full-backs came forward, and midfielders went forward.

"You must give them credit for coming here and trying. Too many sides just put everyone across the box and try to stop you getting a goal while hoping to grab something on the counter."

He added: "That win was a big boost for our confidence and I was pleased to get my first goal. We needed that second goal to finish the game off, we created a lot of chances but again couldn't convert them into goals.

"It was special to get my first in front of the Kop, it was good for me and good to settle the match that way.

"The critics labelled us with the tag that we can't do it in the domestic league and we are only good in Europe. It is up to the players to make sure that doesn't happen.

"By the end of the week we could be in the last 16 of the Champions League, that is how quickly things can be turned around. If we get a run now and wins under our belts, things will look a lot different in a few weeks time."


OCTOBER 31
Cisse Factor in winning formula

By Nick Peet - Liverpool Echo

It was hardly his greatest performance yesterday, in fact some may even say he was awful, but the Cisse Factor ensured that Liverpool picked up three essential points at Anfield.

There was a time when the Hammers' visit to the red half of the city was a formality.

Indeed, the last time the Londoners took all three points away from Liverpool was two months before JFK was shot in 1963!

Yet even the most ardent of Kopites wouldn't have gambled more than pocket change on Rafa Benitez's shot-shy European champions winning on Saturday.

Coming in off two disastrous results - where they conceded four goals and bombed out of the League Cup - it was no surprise that Benitez brought fit-again Steve Finnan straight back into the fray and returned John Arne Riise to defensive duties.

Priority number one it seemed was to keep a clean sheet. Mission accomplished.

Now that back four shouldn't change any time soon.

On to priority number two. Finding the back of the opposition net.

Goals? Liverpool haven't been able to buy them away from the European stage this campaign.

After splashing out on Peter Crouch during the summer, and with Fernando Morientes' reputation as one of the finest ever Spanish match-winners assured, Benitez has tried every permutation to allow his first choice pair to lead the line.

But at the end of the day it's not holding up the ball, winning goal-kicks or even link-up play with team-mates that win football matches.

It's putting the ball in the onion bag - and for that reason only, Cisse's inclusion up front is producing the right results.

While Crouch and Morientes - who deserved his standing ovation on Saturday after a tireless performance - both like to come short and meet the ball, Cisse sits on the last defender. The West Ham defence simply couldn't get out of their own half on Saturday.

Practically camped on their own penalty area, Alan Pardew's side found themselves stretched across the park as they desperately tried to shore up at the back, while also support target-man Marlon Harewood in attack.

It meant that there were acres of space for Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia to roam. Space for Xabi Alonso to pick holes in the Hammers midfield, and space for Liverpool to pick up all three points.


OCTOBER 31
Sweet Alonso is Spanish
high among the sighs


By Len Capeling - Daily Post

Some respite for Rafael Benitez after a week spent swapping punches with critics of his shapeless, sloppy side.

This was better, though not by much, a brisker second half lifting fears that wilting West Ham might sneak a thoroughly undeserved point.

In truth, that never looked likely. Alan Pardew's team erected a containing 4-5-1, gifting the initiative to Liverpool, and hardly forcing Pepe Reina to take more than a passing interest in proceedings as Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia mopped up in front of him.

There was early irritation as the Hammers exploited softness down Liverpool's left - where the speedy David Bellion and adventurous Tomas Repka were prominent - but Benitez corrected this at the break, and that was that.

"We didn't do nearly enough," Pardew admitted later. "They took control and we couldn't do much about it."

A good summation of the 90 minutes, which Liverpool spent prising openings without ever giving the impression of knowing who exactly was going to put the ball in the net.

Fernando Morientes spent the opening half showing why so many questions are being asked about his present and future.

And even a livelier second half didn't for a moment dispel the doubts, even if his use of the ball was crisper.

A wonderful cross from Steve Finnan straight on to his head ended with a tame nod straight at Shaka Hislop and the Spaniard's body language wrote a graphic picture of a player whose confidence has fallen headlong down the cellar steps.

His alleged partner, Djibril Cisse, might just as well have spent the time packing his bags such was his impact, or lack of it, on the afternoon.

Possessing only one trick - his pace - he isn't anywhere near a Liverpool player if the yardstick is the two men who looked on from the main stand.

Access to the thoughts of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush would have been priceless.

Another suspect, Peter Crouch, made only a fleeting appearance as Liverpool eased any trembling with a second goal from substitute Bolo Zenden, adding to the sweet shot from Xabi Alonso - deflected by Repka - that gave Liverpool the lead.

Like Morientes and Cisse, he forms part of a love-hate triangle from which little has so far emerged.

Benitez is right to insist that Liverpool win control in many of their matches, and their possession here was eventually greater than West Ham's, even though the Londoners seemed to play the slicker football.

They also carve out a lot of chances.

What they don't do is terrorise teams by scoring lots of goals - like Chelsea or Arsenal and Manchester United at their very best.

And until that potentially fatal flaw is addressed - hopefully in January - Liverpool will fail to inspire or excite, especially away from home where clinical finishing is a prerequisite for great soccer sides.

Here, a stumbling start was followed by a more promising middle period when Luis Garcia became more prominent and Morientes shook some of the lead out of his legs.

Garcia brought a fine save from Hislop and headed narrowly over the angle while Hyypia brought a double goalline clearance from defender Paul Konchesky.

Skipper Steven Gerrard did well enough down the right - something I suggested a couple of weeks back - and Alonso prospered in a more advanced position, his goal just reward for a tireless performance.

Alonso has bucked the trend. He is the pick of Benitez's Spanish signings and as Liverpool's joint leading Premiership goalscorer this season, he at least is doing his job. Something for which the demanding Gerrard will be grateful.

The downside is that Alonso's tally is a mere two strikes, further evidence of inadequacy further forward.

He and Gerrard apart, Liverpool look as blunt as their neighbours, Everton, a link that no-one wants to make.

Least of all with so much still to play for.

And so much still to lose.


OCTOBER 30
Xabi underlines Reds desire

TEAMtalk

Xabi Alonso has brushed aside claims that Liverpool's imports are not up to the required standard by insisting: "We all wear the shirt with pride."

Liverpool's stars had had their character, commitment and desire questioned in a humiliating week for the champions of Europe following disastrous defeats at Fulham and Crystal Palace.

But the answer was emphatic as Liverpool turned in their best Premiership performance of the season against an energetic and determined West Ham to stem the flow of criticism that had threatened to overwhelm them and their manager Rafael Benitez.

They never looked like losing, even if all their problems have not been erased by one highly professional, efficient performance. But if they beat Anderlecht on Tuesday in the Champions League and reach the last 16 of Europe's elite, 'Rafa's revolution' will be back on track.

The goals came from Alonso and Bolo Zenden in each half, and both goalscorers underlined the desire to prove critics wrong from within the Anfield dressing room.

The Spanish midfielder brushed aside the theory that Liverpool's imports were not up to the job.

He said: "You have to be calm. We are a big club and if you have a bad performance then you know you will be criticised.

"It is best to concentrate on improving and not to bother with what is written about you. But we all care. We all feel the disappointment, we all wear the shirt and know what that means.

"That is why we are all committed to the club and trying to do things as well as possible and to climb the table."

He added: "It is my second season here but I really feel the pride of wearing a Liverpool shirt, I am fully committed to the club.

"Always there is something to prove. When situations like this arise you always have to show you are a good team, you understand that people will criticise and you accept it.

"So now after this win everyone is feeling better and we are aiming to win on Tuesday in the Champions League, and that will be two very important victories and will hopefully change peoples' opinion about us."

Dutchman Zenden bagged his first goal for the club to kill the game in the final minutes as West Ham threw extra men forward and took the risk of playing with only three defenders.

Zenden said: "You have to give credit to West Ham because they came here with a very offensive attitude. Their full-backs came forward, and midfielders went forward.

"You must give them credit for coming here and trying, too many sides just put everyone across the box and try to stop you getting a goal while hoping to grab something on the counter."

He added: "That was a big boost for our confidence and I was pleased to get my first goal. We needed that second goal to finish the game off, we created a lot of chances but again couldn't convert them into goals.

"It was special to get my first in front of the Kop, it was good for me and good to settle the match that way.

"The critics labelled us with the tag that we can't do it in the domestic league and we are only good in Europe. It is up to the players to make sure that doesn't happen.

"By the end of the week we could be in the last 16 of the Champions League, that is how quickly things can be turned around. If we get a run now and wins under our belts, things will look a lot different in a few weeks time."


OCTOBER 30
Defiant Reds answer critics

Sporting Life

Rafael Benitez believes that his troubled Liverpool rose to the occasion and met their critics head on in defeating West Ham
2-0 at Anfield.


Goals in each half from Xabi Alonso and Bolo Zenden gave Liverpool only their third league win of the season and lifted the Anfield gloom after desperately disappointing defeats at Fulham and Crystal Palace in the Premiership and Carling Cup respectively.

Benitez said: "We looked organised, compact in defence and scored two good goals. People said we needed to score and we managed that in front of the Kop, I think we did all the things people are asking of us."

Benitez accepted that once again his strikers failed to score and Djibril Cisse and Fernando Morientes were taken off near the end.

But he insisted: "I was happy with the way the strikers worked. They created a lot of space for their colleagues and I don't care who scores in the end. It could be Jose Reina for all I care."

He added: "I felt 'Nando' did a good job, it was an important game for him and he played well, was always involved and helped the rest of the lads with his movement."

Benitez explained his reasoning for playing Steven Gerrard on the right, saying: "The idea was to get him more on the ball and able to link with the strikers. He switched continually with Luis Garcia and it is possible we will be doing something like that again."


OCTOBER 30
Pardew: I didn't feel we hurt them enough

Sporting Life

West Ham manager Alan Pardew conceded that his side ran straight into a side with a point to prove and on their game.

He said: "I didn't feel we hurt them enough. We worked hard and there were some fine individual performances but in the end there was not that real belief that we could upset them, and the lads are disappointed with that.

"A fresh Steven Gerrard made a massive difference and we found ourselves facing a top six side who gave us no space at all and were on their game from the start.

"But you must not forget what a big step up this is for us. We are playing against a top six side and it was hard for us.

"We conceded an early goal and were then always chasing them, and chasing the European champions on their own pitch is not easy. In the end we didn't have the belief to really challenge them.

And Pardew accepted the blame for the late substitution of Tomas Repka - putting James Collins on up front - that left the back door open for Zenden to score the second.

He said: "You can blame me for that, I was making a substitution intended to put them under pressure in the air at the back and the first thing that happened was for them to score in the gap we left.

"Maybe I was a bit impatient. Maybe next time I will wait a bit longer to do something like that. But we are all learning, including me."


OCTOBER 29
Reds enjoy welcome win

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Liverpool enjoyed a welcome return to form with a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham at Anfield.

The European champions had endured a nightmare week but Rafa Benitez's side were bright and sharp against the newly-promoted Hammers who hardly had an effort on goal throughout the game.

Xabi Alonso gave The Reds an early lead on 18 minute but the hosts failed to convert a host of chances until substitute Bolo Zenden wiped out growing frustration by sealing the points eight minutes from time.

Liverpool began with a high tempo and were dominating the early passages of possession, and did not look like a side bereft of confidence.

A typical flowing move involving Fernando Morientes saw Luis Garcia skip into the box before watching his shot blocked by a desperate Danny Gabbidon dive.

The early pressure told in the 18th minute when a corner was cleared to Xabi Alonso, who stroked his 25 yard effort past Shaka Hislop, with a slight tough off Thomas Repka's head along the way.

Garcia did well to combine with John Arne Riise down the left, but the Norwegian's cross was well cut out at the near post.

Liverpool continued in the same vein in the second half, with Djibril Cisse producing a good cross from the right after a powerful run, but no red shirt was near enough to convert.

A second Liverpool goal almost came on the hour mark as Sami Hyypia fired in a shot after a corner had found its way to him, but Paul Konchesky was on the line to hack the ball away.

Morientes spurned another great chance on 70 minutes when he got in between the Hammers centre halves to connect with Steve Finnan's inviting cross, but planted his header too close to Hislop.

The Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper again thwarted The Reds as he dived low to his left to fend away Garcia's powerful drive from the edge of the box with a strong left hand.

A rare West Ham attack came from a strange free kick awarded by Uriah Rennie on the left, and Riise had to rise high at the far post to flick the ball away from Anton Ferdinand.

Garcia went close again when substitute Bolo Zenden's cross found him at the near post, but his clever header sailed inches wide.

The lively Morientes combined with Steven Gerrard inside the final 15 minutes, but again Hislop was there to block the Spaniard's effort bravely.

With so many chances gone begging, the final ten minutes could have proved edgy for The Reds, but Zenden calmed the crowd by grabbing a deserved second eight minutes from time.

The Dutchman benefited from a Gabbidon touch to get in down the left, and he rattled his shot in past Hislop off the foot of the far post for 2-0.


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Thor Zakariassen