The smile has now returned to Gerrard's face...
predicts top-class Gerrard
By Ken Gaunt - PA Sport
Liverpool are about to see the resurgence of Steven
Gerrard, who is finally "up and running" after scoring his
first goal of the season and steering the Reds to the last
16 of the Champions League.
You could almost reach out and touch the relief around
Anfield when he found the target against Bordeaux - at the
15th attempt in Liverpool's colours.
Gerrard's goal was sandwiched between two from Luis Garcia,
and it was little wonder he celebrated in style.
It was first goal for the club since the FA Cup final
triumph against West Ham in May - when he scored twice.
Gerrard's finish was emphatic following a cross from Bolo
Zenden as Liverpool secured their passage into the next
Leading the praise for the 26-year-old England midfielder
was his close pal Jamie Carragher.
"Stevie is up and running now, and it was a great relief for
him to get that goal," said the Liverpool defender.
"He scored 23 last season, which is tremendous for a
midfielder - and it will be difficult to better that.
"You cannot expect him to repeat it every year, but I am
sure he will get into double figures.
"Stevie was a bit unfortunate before his goal. He had quite
a few opportunities but did not hit the target.
"I know him well and how he would have felt if he had not
Liverpool face PSV Eindhoven, who have also qualified, at
home on November 22 in a top-of-the-table showdown.
The teams drew 0-0 in Holland, and Carragher is expecting
another close match.
He said: "Obviously we are delighted get through to the next
stage. The aim now is to finish top of the group.
"We have a decent defensive record in the Champions League,
and I hope we can keep that going.
"Some great teams may finish second in their group, but the
main thing is we are through.
"Now we have to take advantage of playing PSV at home. It
will be very difficult, because they have great experience
in the Champions League and are doing very well in the Dutch
Next up are Reading on Saturday, and the debate has already
started about whether boss Rafael Benitez will return to his
For the first time in 100 games, Benitez named an unchanged
side for the Bordeaux match.
Carragher quipped: "It was a bit strange he decided to quit
on 99. You have a bit of laugh about it. Didn't [former
England cricket captain] Mike Atherton go out on 99 a couple
But Carragher was quick to praise Benitez.
"He is the manager; he picks the team, and the success he
has had speaks for itself.
"We knew the team an hour before kick-off. Of course, you
are wondering whether you are going to play.
"But the manager has his way and is doing an excellent job."
team made us smile
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
John Arne Riise has revealed how Rafael Benitez's
decision to name the same team for the first time in 100
games brought smiles to the Liverpool dressing room last
The Liverpool boss surprised everybody by sticking with the
players who had defeated Aston Villa on Saturday and sending
out the same starting eleven to face Bordeaux.
Riise admits there was a relaxed atmosphere in the minutes
leading up to the game anyway before Benitez's shock
announcement took everybody by surprise.
"We didn't know what the team was going to be when we
arrived at the stadium but I think we all hoped it would be
the same because we played well against Aston Villa, we were
all fit again and we all wanted to help the club qualify for
the next round," he said.
"When he told us it would be the same team as Saturday we
just looked at each other and started smiling. This was the
hundredth game - he couldn't be keeping the same team, could
"There was a great atmosphere in the dressing room before
the game anyway, but this just added to the fantastic
feeling we all had. It was a nice moment and good fun.
"To be honest we're bored of reading about rotation. We know
what our manager stands for and we support him one hundred
per cent. He's one of the best around, he's so tactical and
so thorough in his preparations and he knows what he's
"He wants every player to be fit for every game and it's
just not possible to keep using the same players over and
showing true character
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Character is one major asset Liverpool teams have shown
down the decades.
But this current team has revealed in the past week that
they have it in abundance, too.
It is often said that football is a funny old game, and how
true that has been with the events on and off the pitch at
Anfield since that disappointing defeat at Old Trafford.
I was highly critical of the team over their performance
against Manchester United - but if you were looking for a
positive response from that setback it has come in the best
Ten goals, three victories and enough good football to
suggest that the Reds may finally be getting to grips with
The Reading cup result certainly boosted morale, even if it
was not quite as emphatic as it should have been, and then I
thought the demolition of an Aston Villa side which had been
unbeaten was the best football Liverpool have produced this
Then, to cap it all, Rafa Benitez's side moved relatively
smoothly into the knockout stages of the Champions League
last night with a 3-0 success over Bordeaux.
In between, we've had an Anfield director criticising the
manager over his rotation system and moves in the transfer
market, and his subsequent resignation. What a week!
But I think the Villa match gave clear evidence that this
Liverpool team can be a force this season if it can produce
consistent performances like that one.
Martin O'Neill has exerted his influence on Villa since his
arrival and they look a far more solid proposition, as their
displays had proved, and they came to Anfield full of
confidence. But the rampant Reds shattered that in a first
half show that was top class from start to finish, with fine
goals to go
That set them up perfectly last night and, with the manager
sticking with an unchanged line-up, they were soon
confidently sweeping the ball around the pitch.
Patience is often essential in Europe and the first goal
didn't come until midway through the half, but what a superb
one it was as link-up play on the right resulted in Steven
Gerrard's perfect cross being volleyed home by Luis Garcia.
The Spanish midfielder has often infuriated me with his
ability to give the ball away, but I have to admit he is
turning into a good player, getting far more involved in the
inter-play, and his finishing can be exquisite, as his
second one showed, too.
The early part of the second half saw the French in a more
positive mood and they threatened on a few occasions, but
any hopes they had faded immediately Fernando put his head
into John Arne Riise's face and the red card was immediately
Gerrard, roaming all over in the later stages, was a big
influence once again and delighted in his goal in front of
the Kop, while Momo Sissoko again looked a terrific player
and continues to impress despite his tender age.
The Reds' form had been patchy up to the past week but, even
so, director Noel White's criticism of a manager that has
won the Champions League and FA Cup in successive seasons,
was totally over the top.
It's not the Liverpool way - but at least he made the right
decision with his resignation!
Stevie: The spark is back
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard believes the 'spark' has returned to his
game after admitting he'd not been producing the goods
The skipper was relieved to claim his first of the campaign
in the 3-0 win over Bordeaux, as Liverpool secured their
last 16 Champions League place.
And now Gerrard senses a definite shift in momentum as the
Reds seek to maintain their winning streak.
"It was a weight off my mind to get the goal," he said.
"I had a few chances before and you could see I was getting
too anxious. But I just had a feeling it was going to come
"My form has been a lot better in training and I knew it was
just a matter of time before I took it onto the pitch.
"The most important thing for me is always going to be the
team, but I know if I'm playing to my best I can have a big
influence on our form.
"I've been missing something since the start of the season.
I've not had the spark to my game, and I definitelythink
coming back from the World Cup has been a factor.
"It's more to do with missing pre-season. You're never as
sharp if you don't get the full pre-season training, and
it's no coincidence as far as I'm concerned that if you look
around Europe a lot of the major players haven't started the
season that well."
After the disappointing Premiership defeat to Manchester
United on October 22, Gerrard felt it was essential the
With three wins, and ten goals, he's confident the side is
starting to move into a higher gear.
"When we were on the bus home from Old Trafford, we were all
down," he said.
"We knew we'd let ourselves and the club down and we got
together as a group and said to ourselves there had to be a
"I think in the last few games you've seen that, and now
it's important to keep that going."
The smile has now returned to Gerrard's face, and he
couldn't resist an extra swipe at the ongoing obsession with
how 'happy' he is at Anfield.
"What gets me down is losing games and hearing so much
rubbish about me," he said.
"I could go on for several paragraphs about what was written
last weekend, but I think in this case I summed it up well
enough in one sentence on Monday.
"We're all a bit sick of reading the same things. I'm sick
of it, the players are, the fans and the manager is.
"I feel really sorry for the fans that they have to see the
focus put on me again in those stories, but what can I do
"I think from the reaction of the supporters last night,
it's clear to me they're not taking any notice of that stuff
any more and that's exactly how I want it
explains change of tactic
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has explained why he
unusually opted for an unchanged line-up in Tuesday's 3-0
win over Bordeaux in the Champions League.
It was the first time in 100 games that Benitez had not made
an alteration from the previous team he had selected.
He said: "The players were physically strong enough to play
and had the motivation for the Champions League.
"So, I thought if we are playing well, we have the
confidence and we have time, then we can use the same team."
The victory, achieved through Steven Gerrard's first goal of
the season and two from Luis Garca, sent Liverpool into the
knockout stages of the competition.
Benitez has already stated he will revert to ringing the
changes for Liverpool's next Champions League game - at home
to PSV Eindhoven on 22 November.
Now that progress to the next round has been assured,
Benitez said he will use the match to allow some younger
players to gain European experience.
Gerrard loving Anfield life
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has brushed aside any
talk of his unrest at Anfield, as he bagged his first goal
of the season in a 3-0 UEFA Champions League victory over
The Reds' 3-0 success was enough to secure their place in
the last 16 of the competition with two games to spare, and
Gerrard's goal was a huge bonus on the night.
Gerrard banged in 23 goals for Liverpool last season but has
not yet found top gear this term and his goal against
Bordeaux was his first since his heroics in the FA Cup final
back in May.
His lack of goals has been part of the reason some have
speculated that he has become unhappy with Rafa Benitez's
rotation policy and his decision to play Gerrard on the
right instead of central midfield.
However, Gerrard has never complained and simply laughed off
any talk of him being unsettled at Anfield and says he is
still loving life at his hometown club.
"You look at my performance tonight, it didn't look
unsettled," insisted Gerrard.
"I will be at Liverpool for many years to come and I'm
loving every second."
As Benitez finally named an unchanged line-up, Gerrard
admitted that the team were surprised when they heard the
Although Benitez's rotation policy has come under fire in
some quarters, Gerrard insists the players have belief in
their manager and says it is their own performances that
have been a problem.
"He named the side an hour before kick-off and the lads were
looking around in astonishment," admitted Gerrard.
"You have to believe in what he says, whatever team he puts
"Our form has been inconsistent and it is up to the players
to improve that."
targets top spot
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has now set his sights on
winning their UEFA Champions League group after his
unchanged line-up secured a place in the knockout stages.
Benitez surprisingly kept the same side which dispatched
Aston Villa at the weekend, as Liverpool remained unchanged
for the first time after 99 games of change.
The Reds were hardly troubled as they beat Bordeaux 3-0 at
Anfield to ensure their progress from the group with two
games to spare.
Rafa thanks his captain.
Liverpool now face fellow qualifiers PSV Eindhoven at
Anfield in their next match when they can seal top spot with
a victory against the Dutch side, and take any pressure off
their trip to Istanbul.
"This is important for us, and it gives us the chance now to
go on and win the group in our next match here against PSV
Eindhoven," said Benitez.
"Then we can maybe make changes for the last game and give
young players European experience."
Bordeaux were already 1-0 down and struggling when Fernando
Menegazzo was sent off for an outrageous headbutt on John
"After the sending off it was easier for us to press and
chase the ball and we had more space for us to work in.
"I was on the other side of the pitch and I did not see
clearly but I saw John's head with blood and the red card
was the right thing.
"It was a headbutt and you could see the blood. You do not
like to see things like that on the pitch, you prefer to
talk about good football."
Benitez's Bordeaux counterpart Ricardo Gomes was not happy
with the build-up to Menegazzo's dismissal, as he believes
Liverpool should have returned the ball instead of taking a
quick free kick.
"The sending-off for Fernando was the turning point, we were
disappointed that Liverpool raced away from a throw and did
not give the ball back to us after a stoppage," said
"That was not fair play.
"But it was an incident that you cannot condone, in the end
it gave Liverpool the extra man and the incentive to go on
and win the game. Beforehand we certainly had a chance of an
"Our plans to attack were not helped by losing (Marouane)
Chamakh early on, it meant an inexperienced player going
into a very important game.
"Now we are out of the Champions League, but we have two
games left in the group and we must make sure that we
qualify for the UEFA Cup by taking third place in the group.
"The fact that we have not scored in the Champions League
shows that we are not quite ready yet for the higher level,
but I feel that with some adjustments we will be much better
in a couple of seasons."
Benitez was happy with his side bagging three more goals,
with Steven Gerrard's goal drought coming to an end an
"We wanted to see more good football, some good passing and
more goals," added Benitez.
"We could have scored maybe one or two more goals but it's
good to see three goals and its good to see us playing well
and creating chances.
"I think it was really good for Steven because when you have
finished one season with 23 goals and not scored for a few
games, it does become something that prays on your mind.
"Steven Gerrard scored a lot of goals last season but has
not scored this season and he wants to score because he is a
winner and so now maybe after this goal he will be calmer in
front of goal."
double as Reds go through
Liverpool secured their place in the next stage of the
Champions League with a convincing 3-0 victory over 10-man
Bordeaux at Anfield.
This win, coupled with PSV Eindhoven's triumph over
Galatasaray, means Liverpool have qualified from group C
with two games to spare.
Luis Garcia scored in each half - taking his Champions
League tally for Liverpool to 10 - and Steven Gerrard
finally grabbed his first of the season to settle things.
Garcia and Gerrard - the goalscorers - celebrate.
But had it not been for a crazy headbutt by Fernando
Menegazzo on John Arne Riise on 66 minutes, with the score
at 1-0, Bordeaux may well have grabbed something from the
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez sprung the ultimate surprise
when he named an unchanged side to face the French league
After 99 successive matches tinkering with his side, the
Liverpool boss opted to retain the team which beat Aston
Villa at the weekend.
Bordeaux made five changes from the team which lost 1-0 to
Liverpool a fortnight ago, but Vladimir Smicer, a Liverpool
hero of Istanbul now with the French side, failed to make
the 18 and took up a seat in the directors' box after a
rousing ovation from the Kop.
Liverpool showed their intent with an opening minute move
down the left which saw Gerrard hook over from Riise's
Bordeaux needed to win to have any chance of going through
themselves and opted for twin strikers and a more
But that was upset on just 11 minutes when striker Marouane
Chamakh limped off with a knee injury, Edixon Perea coming
on as substitute.
The French were still keen to come forward and Menegazzo ran
from midfield to fire just wide from 20 yards.
Liverpool found it difficult to break through the French
back line until the 23rd minute and the goal came from a
Luis Garcia has a habit of scoring in the Champions League
and he was there just beyond the far post to meet a Gerrard
cross with a left-foot volley which bounced away from Ulrich
Rame into the far corner.
Gerrard's flick then gave Dirk Kuyt a sight of goal from 30
yards and he held off two defenders to send a shot fizzing
wide of a post.
It was not until the 41st minute that Liverpool came close
again, a Kuyt header just over from another Gerrard cross.
Bordeaux were first to threaten in the second half when on
47 minutes Florian Marange sent in a swerving 25-yarder that
Jose Reina touched over.
Three minutes later Reina was in action again when
Jean-Claude Darcheville was put clear, the Spanish
goalkeeper blocking the close-range effort.
Mohamed Sissoko was booked on 55 minutes for a foul on
Pierre Ducasse, and two minutes later Liverpool sent on Bolo
Zenden in place of Alonso.
Bordeaux continued to make life uncomfortable for Liverpool,
Micoud pulling the strings, the threat of an equaliser
always there. The French team then replaced Darcheville with
Gerrard fired wide from a good position and a misplaced pass
soon after showed that the Liverpool skipper was not quite
on his game.
Then what had been a tepid game produced a red card and a
row over a Sissoko tackle.
Referee Markus Merk calmed the uproar and opted to take no
further action, with Liverpool taking a quick throw and
racing away before Merk pulled them back and awarded the
throw to Bordeaux.
But the French were furious and Menegazzo lost his cool and
headbutted Riise on 66 minutes, Merk immediately waving the
That was the incentive Liverpool needed to take control, and
on 71 minutes Gerrard scored his first goal of the season
when Zenden put him clear down the middle.
Rio Antonio Mavuba then came on for Micoud and on 76 minutes
Liverpool had their third. Mavuba made a dreadful error to
gift the ball to Luis Garcia who raced into the box to blast
home his second of the game.