After The Match 


Luton-Liverpool 1-1 (0-0)         6.1. 08                         FA Cup
Goals: Crouch (73)                Riise (77 og)
Team: Itandje, Finnan, Riise, Carragher, Hyypia, Lucas, Alonso, Benayoun, Babel, Crouch, Kuyt
Subs: Voronin (Babel 70), Mascherano (Alonso 73),
El Zhar (Benayoun 85)
Not used: Martin, Hobbs
Yellow: Alonso (44), Riise (68), Hyypia (83)
Red: None
Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 10,226
Shots on target: 2-5
Shots off target: 8-10
Blocked shots: 2-1
Fouls conceded: 10-14
Corners: 4-3
Offsides: 2-2
Possession: 49-51
Yellow: 0-3
it could be
a tough game..."

Rafael Benitez

0801: Carragher confronted abusing yobs
0801: Liverpool canít afford to sit back and relax
0801: Liverpool average without dynamic duo
0701: Carragher: Hatters deserved win
0601: Rafa frustrated by Luton draw
0601: Blackwell proud of his players
0601: Own goal piles pressure on Benitez  

Carragher confronted abusing yobs

By James Carroll - Shankly Gates

Jamie Carragher was abused and showered with beer and spit as he went to sign autographs following the FA Cup tie with Luton Town on Sunday, Liverpool claimed today.

The Reds' vice-captain was photographed standing on a barrier confronting the supporters in the home section of Kenilworth Road.

A club spokesperson said today: "Jamie went to sign autographs for youngsters in the executive boxes.

"Unfortunately, he was subjected to a tirade of foul-mouthed abuse and also had beer thrown at him."

Carragher was chatting to 8-year-old Hamzah Ahmed when the incident occurred.

His uncle, Sim Hussain from Luton, told the Liverpool Echo: "It was awful. He was making the kids' day by coming over and meeting them. He was the perfect gentleman.

"They were swearing at him. The language was terrible and they were even making references to his mother.

"Even then, Jamie just told them to calm down.

"Then someone spat at him and a drink was thrown at him. We had to jump into the box so it all stopped.

"I'm from Luton and I thought what happened was disgusting. He didn't have to come over. But he did.

"There's banter. But that was something completely different.

"The lads who did it were aged between 18-22. We've been trying to call Luton FC to tell them what happened but they just put us on hold."

A Liverpool 'insider' added: "The players were warming down on the side of the pitch near the tunnel.

"There were family in the executive boxes and they were running up and down near those boxes.

"They were asked to go and sign some autographs which they did.

"But as they were jogging up and down they started to get a lot of earache from some supporters, some of which was quite nasty.

"Then somebody showered Jamie with a drink, possibly ale, which caused him to briefly react."

The matter is unlikely to be investigated by the Football Association.

Liverpool canít afford
to sit back and relax

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool might have breathed a sigh of relief at scrambling a fortunate replay at Luton on Sunday, but I hope that doesnít mean the players now think that the hard work has been done.

Luton will be just as fired up, just as enthusiastic and just as energetic next Tuesday Ė and if Liverpool approach the replay as sloppily as they did the first game they might suffer an even bigger shock than the one they experienced at Kenilworth Road.

Thereís no getting away from the fact that we were lucky to be in yesterdayís FA Cup draw.

But thatís the one quality you can always guarantee you will need if youíre going to have a good cup run.

Lower division teams always raise their game against top flight opposition. Just look at Huddersfield, Oldham, Sheffield United and Coventry at the weekend, while even Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal were lucky at Burnley.

For Premier League teams to get through, you have to work as hard as they do in order for your greater skill levels to show through.

That didnít look like it happened at Luton. The team Liverpool put out should have been good enough to beat a crisis-hit League One side, but in the event they were lucky to scramble a draw.

I would say that 99 per cent of foreign managers always look at the opposition before they name their team and pick a side accordingly.

But when youíre playing a side from a division below you I think that shouldnít be such a prerequisite.

Of course you should have the opposition watched, but I donít think they should dictate your team selection.

It will be interesting to see how Luton get on against Swansea this weekend. I wouldnít be surprised if they struggle because they will be physically and mentally shattered after the effort they put in last weekend.

But Iím sure the adrenalin will be pumping again next week which is why Liverpool will have to match their energy and commitment levels.

Forget any talk about the FA Cup being last on Liverpoolís list of priorities.

I watched the match on television on Sunday and all I could hear were Liverpool fans singing.

The FA Cup means a huge amount to the supporters and everybody would love to have a day out at the new Wembley Stadium regardless of what competition itís in.

Any team which walks out at Wembley will have experienced a slice or two of luck along the way. Hopefully that will go for Liverpool come May 17 this year.

Liverpool average without dynamic duo

By Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post

Same old story for Liverpool Iím afraid.

Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Jamie Carragher remain their only three top class players and without two of them on Sunday? Average.

They lacked direction, leadership, urgency. And while Luton played well above themselves as youíd expect, Liverpool didn't have anyone who seemed capable of changing the game.

I thought Xabi Alonso was outstanding in his first season but he just doesnít look the same player now and doesnít seem able to influence a game in the way he once did.

I donít think the other forwards have enough about them when Torres is out and I donít think they are players who any of the other top four would take in a hurry.

Javier Mascherano is a good signing but only for the specific job he does. He doesnít create, play players in or score goals Ė he does that midfield role that the likes of Makelele did so well for many years.

But Makelele had great players around him to make him look more effective Ė if you donít have that then you look more limited.

Itís not a situation that will improve much in this January transfer window either, with Rafael Benitez rightly prioritising a defender for the bulk of his spending.

But there is something fundamentally wrong at the club at the moment and I donít think itís the manager.

Things arenít right off the pitch and clarification from the Americans about what they want to do is needed soon.

Until we get that, I fear things on the pitch will continue to be as unstable too.

Carragher: Hatters deserved win


Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has conceded the Reds did not deserve to get past Luton at the first attempt in their FA Cup clash.

Liverpool must replay their third-round tie with the crisis-hit Hatters after being held to a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road on Sunday.

The result was another disappointing one for the club - who have slipped 12 points off the pace in the Premier League - and their under-pressure manager Rafael Benitez.

But defender Carragher admits the team can have few complaints after a spirited display by the League One club, who are currently in administration.

"Before the game, we wanted to come here and beat Luton and we should be beating them," Carragher said on the Reds' official website.

"But, after the 90 minutes, we're delighted to still be in the cup. We didn't play too well and if anyone deserved to win, it was Luton. We accept that.

"We didn't perform but, at the end of the day, cup competitions are all about results and we are still in the draw for the next round.

"We would have liked a better result because we are the favourites to go through."

Liverpool were given a stern test by Luton at the same stage two years ago but Benitez's side eventually prevailed 5-3 after a pulsating encounter.

Carragher says he always expected another tough tie and, considering a number of Premier League sides have already been knocked out, he is relieved Liverpool at least have their name in the fourth round draw.

They will play Swansea or non-league side Havant & Waterlooville if they progress.

Carragher added: "Luton is a tough place to come. We knew that from a couple of years ago and, if you look at some of the results from the weekend, maybe the gap between the Premier League and the other leagues is not as big as people think.

"There have been a few shocks and I suppose our result will go down as a bit of a shock because people expected us to win.

"I thought Luton were excellent and you have to give them great credit. They played very well the last time we were down here and they raised their performance again this time."

Rafa frustrated by Luton draw

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez reflected on his side's 1-1 draw with Luton Town and admitted he was disappointed that the Reds had failed to book their place in the fourth round of the competition at the first time of asking.

The Hatters more than matched their more illustrious opponents for most of the match but when Peter Crouch opened the scoring with less than 20 minutes remaining Liverpool were on course to secure a hard-fought victory.

However, within three minutes of taking the advantage the home side levelled and Benitez was quick to reveal his frustration at failing to see the game out.

"We knew it could be a tough game and it was a tough game," said Benitez.

"They (Luton) worked really hard. We also worked hard but the only thing is when you score a goal you need to use your experience and control the game. But we conceded within three minutes and that was really disappointing."

The League One side looked more than capable of causing a huge cup upset for long periods of the contest and while the Reds boss acknowledged that his side did not play with their usual quality, he believes Liverpool will complete the job in hand in the replay a week on Tuesday.

"I think that it was really difficult because they were physical and it was a tough game, but in terms of the workrate I am happy with that," he said.

"In terms of the performance we can do better for sure. At least we have the chance to play another game at Anfield in the replay and I think it will be different."

Benitez also defended his decision to rest the likes of Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres and felt the players on show were more than capable of taking on the Hatters.

"I think if you play Crouch who is the centre forward of the national team, Voronin, who is an international player, Benayoun who is an international player and Kuyt - you are giving the other team a message that we have very good players," he said.

"I think that the team scored a goal and then you need to use your experience and control the game. We couldn't. We had some chances, they had some chances but that is the nature of the FA Cup."

Blackwell proud of his players

Sky Sports

Luton boss Kevin Blackwell was proud of his players after they earned a 1-1 draw with Liverpool in their FA Cup third round encounter.

John Arne Riise's own goal gifted Luton a deserved draw after Peter Crouch had opened the scoring for Liverpool.

The draw earns the cash-strapped League One outfit a money-spinning replay at Anfield and Blackwell felt his side were unfortunate not to win at Kenilworth Road.

"I do think we could have won," Blackwell told Sky Sports 1. "I think we could rue the chances we missed, but what a fantastic performance from the players.

"To see a sloppy goal like that go in could have destroyed all the hard work we had done, but what a great response and we still had some chances after that.

"As a manager I'm very proud the way the players played today as we matched football for football with Liverpool and heart and endeavour.

"I think it would have been unjust [not to have got a draw] and people watching the game I am sure would concur with that.

Luton have a deadline of 5pm on Monday to find a new buyer after being placed in administration in November and Blackwell hopes their performance will boost their chances of finding a new owner.

"I'm hopeful that makes us a more attractive proposition," added Blackwell. "Hopefully, after tomorrow one or two things might happen.

"Surely anybody looking on today would think Luton have got something going there."

Own goal piles pressure on Benitez

Evening Echo

An own goal by Liverpoolís John Arne Riise piled on the problems for manager Rafael Benitez and earned Luton a deserved replay in a thrilling third round FA Cup clash at Kenilworth Road.

Liverpool looked to have won the tie when Peter Crouch made the most of two defensive blunders to put the Reds in front in the 72nd minute.

But Luton were level inside three minutes when Riise turned a cross from Drew Talbot past his own goalkeeper.

It had promised to be a good afternoon for Liverpool when Ryan Babel tested Dean Brill within seconds of the kick-off.

The striker spun into the penalty before firing in a right-foot shot that Brill did well to hold at the second attempt.

But it was Lutonís turn to squander a real opportunity in the fourth minute when Dave Edwards got clear of the Liverpool defence but his shot was well saved by Charles Itandje.

It was the best possible start to the tie with both sides playing attacking football. But the lack of finishing class was proving to be a real problem, particularly for Liverpool.

Dirk Kuyt was the next Red to waste a real chance when he blazed a pass from Crouch over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.

Babel then provided a fine cross for Kuyt moments later but the striker failed to direct his diving header on the target and the chance went begging.

Luton were certainly not being outplayed by the Barclays Premier League side and they continued to cause the Reds problems.

Lutonís Talbot proved a particular menace and in the 20th minute he burst down the left flank, left Hyypia for dead, and delivered a low cross which Itandje had to clear in haste.

England striker Crouch twice wasted clear chances to put Liverpool in front in the 34th minute but the tall striker could not find the target on either occasion.

But for all their early dominance, Liverpool struggled to provide either Crouch or Kuyt with a clear-cut opportunity to break the deadlock.

Just before the interval, Talbot was in the thick of the action again when he got the better of Jamie Carragher before sending over a cross that eluded everybody in the penalty area.

Under-fire Liverpool boss Benitez must have thought his side had taken the lead in the 51st minute when Riise let fly with a 22-yard drive which took a deflection off Chris Perry.

But Luton goalkeeper Brill pulled off a magnificent save when he palmed the ball to safety.

Liverpool had a lucky escape themselves in the 54th minute when Darren Currie crossed perfectly for Talbot but instead of planting the ball into the net, he headed the ball over the crossbar from six yards.

It was their second good chance of the game and they almost paid for their wastefulness seconds later when Brill froze on the edge of his penalty area and was robbed of the ball by Babel.

Luckily for Brill, Luton managed to clear the danger as Babel failed to control the ball quickly enough.

Lutonís Calvin Andrew was off target when decided to let fly from 25 yards in the 58th minute but the home side were growing in confidence.

Liverpoolís Riise was booked for bringing down Talbot when Currie put the Luton man in the clear. Riise was lucky to escape with just a yellow card as Talbot appeared to have a clear run on goal.

Currie then sent a right-foot volley just wide of the far post as Luton kept up the pressure.

But Liverpool looked to have won the tie when they scored against the run of play.

A catalogue of defensive errors finally led to Crouch breaking the deadlock in the 73rd minute.

Chris Coyne lost possession on the halfway line and there seemed no danger until Perryís wayward header allowed substitute Andriy Voronin a clear run on goal.

But although Brill saved Voroninís shot it ran free to Crouch to slot home.

But Luton deservedly earned a replay when Riise turned a cross from Talbot into his own net from six yards just three minutes later.

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