Kuyt nets: Complete round-up
Liverpool's international stars enjoyed a night of mixed
fortunes as preparations for the World Cup were stepped up
on Wednesday evening.
Dirk Kuyt wore perhaps the biggest smile of the night as he
netted a 40th minute penalty in Amsterdam to help Holland on
their way to a 2-1 victory over USA,
Anfield teammate Ryan Babel was introduced to the action ten
minutes from time as the Dutch ran out winners against the
country England will kick off their World Cup campaign
against in the summer.
England, meanwhile, eventually cruised to a 3-1 victory over
Egypt at Wembley - although they had to recover from going a
goal behind before claiming
a confidence boosting success thanks to a brace from Peter
a Shaun Wright-Phillips strike.
Steven Gerrard wore the captain's armband for his country,
and stayed on the field for 72 minutes before being replaced
by James Milner.
Elsewhere, Fernando Torres was a second half substitute for
Spain in their 2-0 victory over France in a glamour friendly
in Paris. David Villa, who was replaced by Torres at the
break, and Sergio Ramos grabbed the goals for the current
In another clash of the heavyweights, Javier Mascherano
played all 90 minutes as Argentina secured an impressive 1-0
success over Germany in Munich.
It was a bad night, though, for Sotirios Kyrgiakos who
completed the match for Greece against Senegal, but couldn't
prevent his country going down to
a 2-0 defeat.
And despite not qualifying for the World Cup, Israel enjoyed
an impressive 2-0 victory in Romania with Yossi Benayoun
netting the first goal of the night.
(LFC Official Website)
Kjaer courting Liverpool move
Palmero want to keep hold of star defender Simon Kjaer,
despite the player admitting he would like to leave the club
at the end of the season.
Kjaer has conceded he wants a move to one of the bigger
clubs in European football - highlighting Premier League
giants Liverpool as his preferred choice.
The 20-year-old - who joined Palmero just over two years ago
- says he is seeking a new challenge in his career, but
insisted any switch would have to be to an "attractive
The central defender still has over two and a half years
left on his current deal at the Stadio Renzo Barbera,
however the Dane is eager to finalise a transfer before he
turns his attention to World Cup duties with his national
Kjaer said: "I will take a step towards the dream or I will
stay in Palmero. I would prefer to have it sorted out before
the World Cup. I am ready for a new challenge, but is has to
be an attractive club.
"(The) Premier League is the best league in the world and
then there is Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain.
"England and the physical playing style would probably suit
me better. In case the right offers come, it would be
exciting to form a pair with (Daniel) Agger
Reds rocked by new Aurelio blow
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes defender Fabio
Aurelio could be sidelined for three weeks with a thigh
The Brazilian was forced off midway through the first half
of Sunday's victory over Blackburn after straining
quadriceps in his right leg.
Aurelio has not had the best luck with injuries, having
missed the start of the season after sustaining a freak knee
problem in a kickabout with his children during the summer.
Since then he has struggled with a few niggling injuries but
appeared to be ready for a longer run in the team before
this latest setback as Benitez was keen for young left-back
Emiliano Insua to have a break.
"It's not good news and we think he is going to be out for
maybe another two or three weeks - Fabio has had really bad
luck," said Benitez.
"It all began at the start of the season, when he suffered
the injury during the summer with his family, and it's like
there has been something every month
"It is a shame because he is a top footballer and a really
nice person but him being out leaves us with a problem
because we wanted to play him, so we could give Insua a
Keegan honoured by Shankly gong
Kop legend Kevin Keegan spoke of his delight after receiving
the prestigious Bill Shankly award at the Liverpool Echo
Sports Personality of the Year event earlier this week.
The former Reds striker, who was signed by Shankly from
Scunthorpe in 1971 and went on to make 323 appearances for
the club, admits he felt humbled to win the gong named after
the legendary Anfield boss.
"It's a great honour," said Keegan. "Watching the clips of
this guy made us all very emotional. He would have been
nearly 97 this year, had he still been with us.
"He was an inspiration to me from the day I first walked
into the club. When he left, for me, a little a bit of the
club died because he meant that much
"It was a very special night and receiving the award made me
very proud, particularly when you see some of the people who
have won it in the past."
Asked what qualities he tried to take from Shankly into his
own managerial career, Keegan replied: "Not enough of the
winning, that's for sure, but you can't have everything!
"He respected players, he treated them properly and he
always made it clear that the fans were always the most
important things about the club.
"Players come and go - look at the table I was sat on. We
have all long since left but the club will always be there
because of those fans. That's what makes it
(LFC Official Website)
Riera facing uncertain
Liverpool FC future
Albert Riera is facing an uncertain Anfield future – as Pepe
Reina agreed to extend his Liverpool FC career.
Riera has not even made the bench for the last two games
after some under-par performances following his return from
six weeks out with a hamstring problem
With Yossi Benayoun again fit, the arrival of Maxi Rodriguez
increasing competition and Ryan Babel back in favour, Riera
has slipped down Rafael Benitez’s pecking order.
Having been strongly linked with a return to Spain last
summer, the winger has been hampered by niggling injury and
loss of form, and so far making only
That lack of action threatening Riera’s place at this year’s
World Cup, with the 27-year-old absent from the Spain squad
for tonight’s glamour friendly in France.
And Riera will also have a fight to avoid being moved on
from Anfield at the end of the season as Benitez looks to
shake up his squad after an underwhelming campaign.
Lucas: Gerrard better than Kaka
Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva rates Liverpool team-mate
Steven Gerrard higher than his compatriot Kaka.
Lucas, who has been capped four times by his country, has
been a mainstay in the centre of Rafa Benitez's midfield at
Anfield this season, with Gerrard operating in an advanced
role ahead of him.
Real Madrid forward Kaka, meanwhile, is beginning to find
the kind of form which prompted the Bernabeu club to pay
£59million for his services from AC Milan
Reds captain Gerrard, who has also played down the entire
right flank in his Liverpool career, has struggled to live
up to his expected level this season but having played with
both players, Lucas is in no doubt who is the more
"There are similarities with Kaka and Stevie but Stevie
makes more of a contribution all over the pitch," said the
23-year-old when comparing Gerrard
to his compatriot.
"Stevie is more complete in that sense because he can attack
but also defend just as well. This is probably because
Stevie has experience playing in a number of positions
earlier in his career."
Lucas added in LFC Weekly: "Even now, he is so good, he
could probably play anywhere."
Garner blasts 'disgraceful' Rafa
Former Blackburn striker Simon Garner has labelled Liverpool
manager Rafael Benitez's comments about Rovers "a complete
Benitez continued his running fued with opposite number Sam
Allardyce after the Reds' 2-1 win at Anfield on Sunday as he
criticised the visitors' playing style, sarcastically
suggesting Barcelona were planning to copy it.
But Garner, Rovers' record goalscorer, said Benitez is a
"Who is he to say that? I can't imagine Barcelona are
falling over themselves wanting to copy the way Liverpool
play at the moment. Those comments are completely
unnecessary and a complete disgrace," he told
the Lancashire Telegraph.
"If you look at the amount of money Rafa has spent since
coming to Liverpool then you would be worried if they
weren't beating Blackburn Rovers. The fact is this season
they have struggled to beat them in two games, with the home
game a draw.
"Perhaps he is having a go at Sam to try and deflect the
pressure because they look to be fighting a losing battle
for fourth place. I don't really care why he is saying it
but there is no room for personal attacks like that."
Reina agrees new
long-term Anfield deal
Liverpool were today given a massive boost after Pepe Reina
agreed a new long-term deal – now the club are hoping Javier
Mascherano will follow suit.
Rafa Benitez has been desperate to get the future of his
influential goalkeeper sorted out and he will be delighted
that talks with Reina’s advisors have now reached a
Signed from Villarreal in the summer of 2005, the Spanish
international has been one of Benitez’s biggest success
stories and is currently on course to win his fourth ‘Golden
Gloves’ – the Premier League award for most clean sheets
in a season.
There has never been any suggestion that Reina, 27, was
looking to move away from Anfield – on more than one
occasion he has reiterated his commitment to the club – but
Benitez wanted him to have a deal that recognised his
That is now the case and once Reina returns back to
Merseyside following Spain’s friendly with France tomorrow
night, the formalities of putting pen-to-paper on the
contract that will take him through to the end of 2014/15
Liverpool bid to tie down Mascherano
Liverpool are set to offer Javier Mascherano a two-year
contract extension that would keep him at Anfield until
2014, as they try to stop him going to Barcelona.
Mascherano has been the subject of long-standing interest
from the Spanish and European champions; last year, Barca
manager Pep Guardiola identified the Argentina captain as
the perfect foil for his attacking midfield duo, Xavi and
In keeping with his policy of tying up key players to
long-term deals, Reds boss Rafael Benitez wants Mascherano
to follow in the footsteps of Fernando Torres, Steven
Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Yossi Benayoun, who
have all signed contract extensions in the past 12 months.
Preliminary talks have been held with Mascherano's
representatives and Liverpool are hopeful that the
25-year-old will sign an extension to his present deal,
which expires in February 2012.
Liverpool FC all geared up
for a battle to the bitter end
Better football last year, better at grinding out result
this year – Liverpool’s win over Blackburn was not for the
purists but its importance should
not be dismissed.
It was hard work but when you come up against a side like
Blackburn, the first thing that you must do is fight and it
was really encouraging to see Liverpool roll their sleeves
up and battle.
With Tottenham and Manchester City winning, we had no other
option but to do likewise to keep ourselves in the running
for fourth place; our two main rivals are refusing to go
away and the remainder of the season is going centre on
which team can hold their nerve.
There is some speculation that it will take a tally of
around 80 points to win the title, so what do you imagine it
will need to clinch the final Champions League spot? Looking
at it from this distance, with 10 games left, I’d say 68-70
points will be enough to achieve that goal, which
effectively means Liverpool need to win another seven times
before May 9.
With games against Chelsea and Manchester United impossible
to predict, you are working on the basis that we need to win
every other fixture to get to where we want to be.
(Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo)
Skrtel out for eight weeks
Liverpool have confirmed Martin Skrtel will be sidelined for
eight weeks after suffering a broken metatarsal in his right
Skrtel picked up the problem during Liverpool's 3-1 away win
over Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League last Thursday.
Scans confirmed the nature of the injury, but the Reds were
awaiting further X-rays to determine how long the Slovakia
international would be out of action.
Those tests have now shown that the centre-half will be
absent for two months, although he will not require an
Skrtel's absence has been compounded by an injury worry over
Daniel Agger, who suffered severe bruising to his knee in
Sunday's 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.
Agger is undergoing treatment at the club's Melwood training
ground this week to give him every chance of being fit for
next Monday's Premier League game at Wigan Athletic.
Jamie Carragher partnered Agger at the heart of the defence
against Blackburn having been generally deployed at
right-back in recent weeks.
Carragher welcomes return of Torres
Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher hailed the “special”
talents of Fernando Torres, expressing hope the player would
come through Spain’s midweek friendly against France
unscathed to spearhead the club’s bid for Champions League
football next season.
Torres marked his first start since January 13 with the
winning goal in the bruising 2-1 victory over Blackburn at
The Spain international has now scored 13 goals in 17
Barclays Premier League appearances and despite having
missed nearly six weeks after a knee operation he is still
the club’s top scorer.
Liverpool remain sixth, a point behind fourth-placed
Tottenham, but Carragher believes a fit Torres will give
them an extra dimension in their final 10 Barclays Premier
“Fernando has come back in and it goes without saying how
much we have missed him,” said the defender.
“He is still our top scorer, the kind of special player who
will make a difference."
Torres plays down Spain fears
Fernando Torres is delighted to have joined up with the
Spain national side and insists he is raring to go.
The Liverpool striker has only recently recovered from a
lengthy spell on the sidelines and has made just two
appearances for the Reds since suffering from a knee
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has expressed concerns in the
past about Torres' commitments with his country, in the wake
of previous injuries, but the 25-year-old hitman insists he
is back to full health and ready for action.
"Rafa has enough to deal with, with what he's got," Torres
said as he reported
"It's normal that he's thinking about his interests but he
knows that all the players want to go to the national team.
"For us it is an honour to be here, to play as much as
possible and to return as fit as possible to our teams.
Torres, who helped Liverpool to a 2-1 victory over Blackburn
on Sunday on his first start since returning to the side,
admits he is drained after so long on the sidelines but is
gunning for revenge against France after Les Bleus dumped
Spain out of the 2006 World Cup in the second round.
"I'm tired after playing nearly 90 minutes after two months
of not doing so,"
"But I'm ready for as much as the coach thinks is right.
"These games are always special for Spain. We can't wait to
play against them, especially after they knocked us out of
the last World Cup.
"We always have it in for them."
Agger undergoes scan
Daniel Agger underwent a scan on an injured knee today after
leaving Anfield on crutches following the 2-1 win over
Doctors discovered severe bruising to the Dane's right knee,
and he will now undergo treatment at Melwood.
A club spokesman said: "Daniel underwent a scan this morning
which has shown severe bruising to the bone in his right
knee. The knee is still very swollen and he will continue to
receive treatment at Melwood this week."
Agger was one of several Liverpool players to pick up knocks
a physical encounter.
Fabio Aurelio suffered a strain in his quadriceps, while
Maxi Rodriguez was left with stud marks just below his
(LFC Official Website)
Reina backs Torres
Pepe Reina has backed Fernando Torres to fire Liverpool into
the Champions League.
Reina believes a fit again Torres can get the vital goals to
help the Reds in their battle for a Champions League
"It was great to see Fernando score because he is a key
player for us,"
said the goalkeeper.
"We have 10 league games left now and it can make a big
difference with him back in the team. He is an important
player for us and hopefully he can keep scoring goals now
and help us end the season with a winning run."
all that matter at Anfield
Three points gained, 90 minutes for Fernando Torres and Sam
Allardyce sent home in a huff; for Rafa Benitez it was,
clearly, a case of mission accomplished.
When Blackburn Rovers come to town, the prospects of
witnessing a classic game of football are as realistic as
their manager – not someone who is familiar with the concept
of self-effacement – winning a shrinking violet competition.
It will never happen.
We have reached the stage of the season, though, where
classics are games not required; some, inevitably, will
throw their hands in the air and say Liverpool have a duty
to start playing with a swagger but all that matters now is
they keep their points tally ticking over.
So while Allardyce ranted and raved about how Blackburn
deserved to win as “they created the most chances”, Benitez
was able to afford himself a wry smile, as Liverpool kept
themselves in Champions League contention with
a crucial triumph.
(Dominic King - Liverpool Echo)