After The Match 


West Ham-Liverpool 1-2 (0-0)        30.1.07                         PL
Goals: Kuyt (46), Crouch (53)      Blanco (78)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Hyypia, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard, Alonso, Crouch, Kuyt, Bellamy
Subs: Pennant (Crouch 70), Gonzalez (Bellamy 85),
Fowler (Kuyt 90)
Not used: Dudek, Zenden
Yellow: Alonso (79)        Reo-Coker (65)
Red: None
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 34,966
Shots on target: 6-6
Shots off target: 7-7
Blocked shots: 0-2
Possession: 43.9-56.1
Fouls conceded: 12-10
Corners: 4-8
Offsides: 1-5
Yellow: 1-1
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES "We have confidence at the moment."
     Rafael Benitez

3101: It’s quality street Reds
3001: Benitez beaming after Reds win
3001: Liverpool edge closer to Chelsea


Gerrard celebrates with the two goalscorers - Kuyt and Crouch. (Photo: EPA)

It’s quality street Reds

By James Pearce - Liverpool Echo

Rafa Benitez hailed the quality of the strikes from matchwinners Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch after Liverpool closed the gap on Chelsea to two points at Upton Park last night.

Kuyt fired the Reds in front with a spectacular 25 yard shot just 10 seconds into the second half. And seven minutes later Crouch celebrated his 26th birthday in style by finishing off a stunning team move with a clinical drive from the edge of the box.

West Ham debutant, Spanish striker Kepa Blanco, pulled one back with 14 minutes to go but the Reds deservedly held on to notch a fifth straight Premiership victory.

Boss Benitez said: “I think they were two great goals. The finish of Kuyt was good and I think the second goal was really good play.

“We regained the ball deeply, we got forward, passed between the lines and the finish of Crouch was really good.

“I think that was the difference. It was important we scored before them and then we started to have more confidence.

“After that they needed to score and were under pressure. Only when we conceded the goal were we a little nervous.

“I didn’t know it was Crouch’s birthday - one day before the transfer window shuts I’ve been focusing on other things.

“But I will go and say happy birthday to him. I’m sure he’s happy with the man of the match award and maybe he’s drinking his champagne.”

Victory cranked up the pressure on second-placed Chelsea ahead of their home clash with Blackburn Rovers tonight and Benitez has challenged his players to maintain their high standards over the coming months.

“We’re on a good run, we have confidence and a winning momentum, but we need to keep it going because it’s a long race,” he said.

“I prefer to be under this pressure. Now we must think about the next game and the next three points.

“Then we will see where we are in two or three weeks.

“Maybe we will be closer and then we can start talking about possibilities.

“Chelsea have experience and quality. If they lose some points then perfect, but if not we know we must keep going.

“We’re in a positive position and it helps with motivating the players.

“People talked about how we couldn’t beat the top sides, but we beat Chelsea, we were better than them and now we’ve continued winning.

“We’ve shown we have the quality to at least get closer to them.”

The result completed a league double for the Reds to deepen the lowly Hammers’ relegation fears.

Manager Alan Curbishley said: "It was a real blow to lose a goal right after half-time. But our season was never going to be decided by this game.

"The real disappointment is that we have been in winning positions against Fulham and Newcastle in recent weeks and didn't hold on. Four points from those and we would be out of it.

“We just can't keep a settled side. We had to throw the back four together over the last couple of days.

“They were competing and battling away, but that first goal gave Liverpool a real lift and obviously set us right back."

Benitez beaming after Reds win

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Rafa Benitez says his Liverpool side are full of confidence after they continued their fine Premiership form with victory
at West Ham.

Two superb goals from Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch saw Liverpool win 2-1 at Upton Park and see The Reds record a ninth Premiership victory in their last ten games.

That run has seen them close to within two points of second-placed Chelsea and eight points behind Premiership leaders Manchester United.

"In the first half, we were trying to keep the ball," said Benitez.

"The game was balanced.

"In the second half, we got the ball and started controlling the game. It was only at the end where we were a bit nervous."

Both of Liverpool's brilliant goals came early in the second in the second half, with Crouch's sublime finish an appropriate end to a fine passing move from the visitors.

"It [Crouch's goal] was a fantastic play from all the team," added Benitez.

"We practice things like that in every training session and tonight it was a perfect finish.

"We have confidence at the moment."

Crouch's superb goal also gave him the perfect present for his 26th birthday.

"It was obviously always going to be tough against West Ham who are fighting for their lives," said Crouch.

"But it was important we got the result and scoring capped it off for me.

"Things weren't going for us in the first half. In the second half it clicked with Dirk scoring so early and it settled us down."

With Liverpool two points behind Chelsea and eight off leaders Manchester United, Crouch said they would just concentrate on keeping their own run going.

"It's going to be difficult," added Crouch.

"But we've said before we've got to keep this run going and hope the top two slip up."

Liverpool edge closer to Chelsea

By Phil McNulty - BBC Sport Online

Liverpool closed to within two points of Chelsea in second place and plunged West Ham deeper into trouble.

Dirk Kuyt fired Liverpool ahead with a spectacular 25-yard finish only 10 seconds after half-time.

And Peter Crouch's measured drive from the edge of the penalty area doubled Liverpool's lead seven minutes later.

West Ham debut boy Kepa Blanco, on as a substitute, scored with his first touch after 76 minutes, but Liverpool survived for a deserved victory.

Liverpool were in no mood to show troubled West Ham any mercy, with Kuyt, Crouch and Craig Bellamy forming a positive attacking formation.

And they exerted almost total domination of possession against a nervous Hammers' side in the early exchanges, with keeper Roy Carroll's jittery display hardly designed to spread confidence through the home side's ranks.

But it was Carroll's opposite number Pepe Reina who was in the more meaningful action, despite Liverpool showing the greater quality.

He dived well to his left to keep out Marlon Harewood's low 25-yard drive, then saved again from Yossi Benayoun after a neat exchange with Carlton Cole.

Hammers' boss Alan Curbishley will have drawn encouragement from the latter stages of the first half - but all the good work was wrecked within 10 seconds of the re-start.

Liverpool kicked off, and when Crouch laid the ball into Kuyt's path, he arrowed a 25-yard finish past Carroll into the top corner.

And Liverpool doubled the lead seven minutes later when a wonderful passage of play ended with John-Arne Riise setting up Crouch for a powerful side-foot shot that left Carroll helpless.

Liverpool were rampant and West Ham shattered - Bellamy almost adding the third with a shot that was inches off target on the turn from 12 yards.

Carroll saved West Ham from falling further behind after 63 minutes, saving a point-blank effort from Kuyt after he was played in by Bellamy.

West Ham had penalty appeals turned down with 20 minutes remaining, but Liverpool defender Riise clearly got a touch on the ball ahead of Harewood.

Curbishley made a double change, sending on Zamora and Blanco for Cole and and Harewood as time ran out.

And Spanish striker Blanco, on loan from Sevilla, scored with his first touch after 76 minutes, sliding in Zamora's cross.

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