After The Match 


Liverpool-Luton 5-0 (1-0)    15.1. 08                    FA Cup - 3. r
Goals: Babel (45), Gerrard (52, 64 & 71), Hyypia (57)
Team: Itandje, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Torres, Alonso, Crouch, Pennant, Arbeloa, Babel, Carragher
Subs: Kuyt (Crouch 65), Lucas (Gerrard 72), Aurelio (Torres 73)
Not used: Martin, Kewell
Yellow: Hyypia (70)
Red: None
Referee: P Walton
Attendance: 41,446
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Blocked shots:
Fouls conceded:
HEADLINES “It’s important we keep winning football matches..."
Steven Gerrard

1601: Not so friendly fire as owners Kop it big style
1601: Babel buoyed by super Stevie
1601: Benitez focuses on victory
1601: Gerrard happy to hit right headlines
1501: No shock as Liverpool outclass Luton


Not so friendly fire as
owners Kop it big style

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Like it or loathe it, football is a business. So let’s use a little retail speak which should be recognisable on both sides of the Atlantic.

The customer is king: And for the second time in barely seven weeks last night, the customers expected to turn Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s investment into big bucks at Liverpool Football Club spoke loudly and clearly.

When Porto came to Anfield in November, Rafael Benitez received a strident and stirring endorsement of his managerial skills.

His position had been threatened, and the fans made their point eloquently.

But last night the mood had shifted.

When Hicks and Gillett arrived at Anfield in a flurry of smiles, handshakes and Liverpool-crested cowboy boots, George said he liked to sit among the supporters to gauge the fan experience – and not to be surprised if he popped up on the Kop.

He’d be advised to abandon such experiments for now.

The Kop is a usually reliable barometer of public opinion among Liverpool fans.

And while the chant was by no means universal, it was loud enough, frequent enough and widespread enough to be clearly heard: “You’re not Liverpool fans. Liverpool Football Club . . . It’s in the wrong hands.”

There was another, less vocal chant, which cannot be repeated because of sensitive readers and an even more sensitive lawyer. But let’s just say Tom and George were accused of being economical with the truth.

Then there were the banners.

“Thanks Yanks. No More Friendly Fire” and “Dubai SOS – Yanks Out” were just two.

The natives are restless – and it’s easy to understand why.

Liverpool has never washed its dirty linen in public.

Liverpool managers aren’t sacked, they always graciously step down in acknowledgement that it’s for the greater good. Cheesy, maybe, but that’s the way they do it. Heck, Gerard Houllier even staged a press conference to say his thank yous and goodbyes.

It’s indicative of a football club which has always done things the right and proper way.

But this week’s events go a little deeper than the possibility of a very popular manager being sacked.

It’s a matter of common decency.

And the Kop, rightly or wrongly, holds itself up as an arbiter of fair play.

If Benfica come to Anfield and deservedly knock Liverpool out of the European Cup, they’re warmly applauded.

A tradition for applauding visiting goalkeepers originated here on Merseyside, while last night a tribute was paid to the magnificent support Luton received from their travelling fans.

So when absentee landlords offer another man the manager’s job – insurance policy or not – it offends their sense of fair play.

Whether you believe Benitez is the man to deliver the League title to Anfield or not, you don’t treat him the way big, vulgar city institutions like Tottenham treat their managers.

And, if the co-owners are being so cavalier with the future of a trusted and admired club servant, it adds to the growing sense of unease at reports of a colossal debt being saddled on the club some time soon.

Hicks and Gillett need a charm offensive some time soon.

Fans often disagree with events in the boardroom, but this is the first time in living memory that fans have openly mutinied with club custodians.

And a divided club is not a strong football club.

The events off the pitch threatened to overshadow Jamie Carragher’s big night.

Liverpool’s legend of 500 matches was granted a guard of honour as he stepped onto the turf with son James, but the resounding chant which reverberated around Anfield was “Ra-fa Benitez.”

As Luton defended doggedly and desperately, however, attention switched to matters on the pitch.

And while Carragher produced his usual array of blocks, interceptions and clearances – not to mention one better Ryan Babel pass away from a clear run on goal – Carra’s best pal did his best to grab the limelight.

What Steven Gerrard offered with one hand – he took away with the other.

Gerrard handed over the captain’s armband for the night, then demanded the spotlight with a hat-trick.

Results of football matches will always dictate the mood of football fans, but last night there was an animated sub-plot.

The customer is king – and it’s time the co-owners started listening.

Babel buoyed by super Stevie

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

Ryan Babel praised the performance of Steven Gerrard after the talismanic midfielder hit a hat-trick to inspire Liverpool to an emphatic FA Cup victory over
Luton Town.

The Dutch starlet admits nothing the skipper does can surprise him anymore after he hit the second treble of his Reds career to take his tally to 15 goals for the season.

"It's almost normal that Stevie gives a performance like that," he told

"He took his goals very well and it is obvious that he is a really important player for us."

While Gerrard stole the headlines with his second-half display, it was Babel who got the most important goal of the game when he broke the deadlock with a clinical finish in first-half stoppage time.

The 21-year-old was pleased to net what was his seventh goal of the season and admitted that the Reds were always likely to go on and score more once they had got the opening goal of the contest.

"It could have been more but in the end we are happy to have scored five goals," said Babel.

"It was really important for us to score the first goal and open up the match. We should have scored it much earlier but to get it on the stroke of half-time was a boost for us.

"We got the second goal early in the second-half and after that it was easier for us to play our football."

Babel was also keen to pay tribute to skipper for the night, Jamie Carragher, who produced another typically sound display at the heart of the Reds' defence on what was his 500th appearance for the club.

"He's a great player with a lot of experience," he said. "It doesn't matter what kind of game it is, he always gives 100 per cent.

"It is a great achievement for him. He is always there encouraging the team and giving tactical advice and there is no doubt he is a major figure at Liverpool."

The victory brings a welcome end to a run of four consecutive draws for Benitez's men and Babel believes they will now go into next week's clash with Aston villa full of confidence.

"The game with Villa will be a different level but we will be ready," he said.

"It's good that we now have a whole week to recover and prepare. It won't be an easy game but after this win against Luton, it should give us a lot of confidence going into the match."

Benitez focuses on victory

Football UK

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez refused to be drawn over his future with the club, after watching the Reds beat Luton Town 5-0 in an FA Cup third round replay
at Anfield.

Comments from co-owner Tom Hicks about an approach to Jurgen Klinsmann hit the headlines earlier on in the week, but Benitez focused solely on his side's victory over the Hatters.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez refused to be drawn over his future with the club, after watching the Reds beat Luton Town 5-0 in an FA Cup third round replay at Anfield.

Benitez told Sky Sports: "We weren't really thinking about it because we know it's important to progress in the FA Cup.

"I was not thinking too much about this, I was thinking about the game. I'm really happy because we won 5-0 and progressed in the competition.

"We knew it would be difficult to score the first goal, but afterwards it would be an open game.

"We had a lot of chances and they worked really hard with a lot of players behind the ball. We were trying to do our job and they were trying to do theirs."

Gerrard happy to hit right headlines

By Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Steven Gerrard admits Liverpool must ensure they command the headlines for the right reasons after helping the Anfield outfit into the fourth round of
the FA Cup last night.

The midfielder netted a hat-trick as Coca-Cola League One outfit Luton Town were overwhelmed 5-0 in their third round replay.

Ryan Babel and Sami Hyypia were also on target to secure Liverpool a home fourth round tie against Swansea City or non-league side Havant and Waterlooville on Saturday week.

Last night’s game came after the admission from the club’s co-owner Tom Hicks that Jurgen Klinsmann had been approached in November with a view to taking over from manager Rafael Benitez.

But Gerrard believes the players are focused on winning games to help ease the uncertainty at Anfield.

“A lot was said in the media about the club so it was important that the headlines were about the football and a good win,” said Gerrard, who now has 15 goals for the season.

“We’re aware of it (the off-field situation), every time we pick up a paper or switch on the TV, so it’s important we stay focused on winning football matches.

“It’s not particularly about the manager, it’s about the team, about progressing into the fourth round, so we’re happy we’ve done that.

“It’s important we keep winning football matches and making sure the only headlines are about football and not what’s happening off the pitch.”

No shock as Liverpool outclass Luton

Evening Echo

Under-pressure Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez saw his side ease their way into the fourth round of the FA Cup tonight thanks to a hat-trick from Steven Gerrard.

League one Luton collapsed in this replay at Anfield after going behind to a late first-half goal from Ryan Babel.

Sami Hyypia was also on the scoresheet to give Benitez some breathing space after the shock revelation that Jurgen Klinsmann had been sounded out about the possibility of becoming the club's next manager.

Benitez selected a strong side, knowing defeat was not an option after the shock admission from co-owner Tom Hicks.

Jamie Carragher was named captain on his 500th appearance for the club while Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso were also in from the start.

Luton received a boost ahead of the game with the news a deal had been agreed with a consortium led by television presenter Nick Owen to buy the club.

The Kop made their feelings know about the manager from the start with chants of "Rafael Benitez" ringing around the ground.

Jermaine Pennant split the Luton defence after three minutes and found Gerrard. He raced forward but was crowded out.

Pennant then found Peter Crouch three minutes later, only for the striker to miss a good chance, heading wide from close range when it seemed easier to score.

Babel almost gave Liverpool the lead in the ninth minute after being released by Gerrard.

He beat goalkeeper Dean Brill with a curling shot from 20 yards but his superb effort came back off the post.

Then Crouch hooked the ball high over the crossbar following a cross from Gerrard and Torres followed suit in the 14th minute.

Liverpool, as expected, were running the show and Babel again came close in the 17th minute when his effort was blocked by Richard Jackson.

Luton were making a decent fist of it after shipping out a number of players in the past week.

Despite their lowly status, the third-tier club were being backed by a good number of supporters, who made themselves heard.

Babel was wasteful in the 38th minute when he sent his effort over the crossbar from the edge of the area after Crouch had played the ball back to him.

Veteran Luton defender Don Hutchison then launched himself at a shot from Gerrard on the stroke of half-time to make a clearance.

The breakthrough finally came in first-half stoppage time when Babel rifled a shot beyond Brill and into the corner after being released by Torres.

Alonso tried his luck straight from the kick off by trying to lob Brill but the goalkeeper was alert to the danger.

John Arne Riise strode forward for Liverpool in the 51st minute, only for his effort from distance to finish wide.

Gerrard made it 2-0 a minute later when he headed in from close range after Crouch flicked on a cross from Pennant.

Liverpool raised the tempo and Torres saw his shot deflected to safety by Kevin Keane in the 56th minute.

They extended their lead a minute later after Gerrard swung in a corner from the left.

Hyypia claimed the goal although Luton defender Matthew Spring seemed to get a touch at the last minute.

Gerrard scored his second of the game and made it 4-0 in the 64th minute, stroking the ball into the corner.

It came after Hutchison had only partially cleared a shot from Torres inside the area.

Gerrard completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute with a thumping 30-yard drive that wrong-footed Brill after being set up by Riise.

Substitute Dirk Kuyt should have made it 6-0 only to head wide from close range 10 minutes later following a cross from Pennant.

Luton were happy to play out time but at least the cash-strapped club have the promise of a financial windfall and new owners.

Liverpool, meanwhile, can now look forward to a visit from either Swansea or non-league Havant and Waterlooville.

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Thor Zakariassen ©