After The Match 


Liverpool-Toulouse 4-0 (1-0)           28.8.07                        CL
Goals: Crouch (19), Hyypia (49), Kuyt (87 & 90)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Agger, Riise, Benayoun, Leto, Sissoko, Mascherano, Crouch, Kuyt
Subs: Leiva (Sissoko 68),Babel (Leto 75),Finnan (Agger 81)
Not used: Itandje, Alonso, Pennant, Torres
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: W Stark
Attendance: 43,118
Shots on target: 6-2
Shots off target: 19-3
Blocked shots: 2-1
Fouls conceded: 5-10
Corners: 8-2
Offsides: 2-0
Possession: 67.4-32.6
Yellow: 0-0
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES "...we showed the strength and quality of our squad."
    Rafael Benitez

2908: Impressive Reds have so much strength...
2808: Crouch: Rotation is real challenge
2808: Rafa delighted as Reds reach group stage
2808: Liverpool fans pay tribute to murdered Rhys
2808: Reds cruise to win over Toulouse

Impressive Reds have
so much strength in depth

By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

There was one over-riding factor about Liverpool’s performance last night.

It wasn’t the margin of victory or the overall display – it was simply the fact that there was class oozing through the side.

When you consider those who were on the bench, or out injured, the growing feeling is that Rafa Benitez has now assembled a squad that has top quality and strength in depth.

There is a different dimension to the team now, an air of confidence and an authority the manager has impressed upon them.

It’s good to see Benitez placing greater emphasis on attack. It’s likely that in the past he has felt he hasn’t had the right players to be as positive, so has taken a more cautious approach.

He is also getting the team to defend in their opponents half. Everyone was chasing and harrying whenever Toulouse got the ball. .

The number of crosses that came in meant they could have trebled the score, but while the opposition tired the Reds looked super fit and they are looking better with every game.

Javier Mascherano had a great game. He ran non-stop for 90 minutes, breaking up moves and linking up well, and for me was man of the match.

The whole team did well on the night. It went a bit quiet in the second half following Sami Hyppia’s goal, but they ended with a flourish and Dirk Kuyt deserved his goals for his previous link-up play and general hard work. The French probably felt lucky to have got off so lightly.

Yossi Benayoun impressed down the right and showed an ability to take on and beat his man, while it was good to see others able to slot into their positions vacated by the injured Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

Another terrific aspect of last night’s action was to see young players like Sebastian Leto, Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel getting their chance. So the future is definitely brighter.

The only thing missing is that clinical finishing in front of goal. While we got four, there were other excellent chances created and we just need to net a greater percentage of those opportunities.

Peter Crouch might be 6’ 7” but while his footwork is good he struggles in the air for some reason, despite getting on the end of excellent crosses. It’s one area he needs to improve on, although his overall game is okay.

Benitez has certainly whipped his team into action and everyone is fighting for their place and keen to impress and that makes it good to watch.

Benitez was naturally disappointed with the Champions League final defeat, but he seems more determined than ever to achieve things this season.

Improving consistency has been one aspect and the early results have pointed to a desire to make a greater impact on the Premiership. In this mood there could be a demolition job on Derby this Saturday.

The tragedy of young Rhys Jones’ death has once again brought a terrific show of unity on Merseyside.

When such terrible acts like his shooting occur all rivalry is forgotten and this city once again has shown a togetherness in the face of heartache.

My heart goes out to Rhys’ family, and I hope they experienced the warmth of feeling towards them for their loss at both Goodison on Saturday and last night at Anfield.

They were emotional occasions and to both clubs and fans I say "Well Done".

Crouch: Rotation is real challenge


Peter Crouch admitted manager Rafael Benitez faces a "difficult" challenge keeping his squad happy after Liverpool beat Toulouse 4-0.

Crouch opened the scoring in the Reds' Champions League qualifying win at Anfield on Tuesday night.

The England striker started the third-round second leg clash against the French side as they completed a 5-0 aggregate victory in the tie but has been handed limited playing time in the Premier League.

Benitez faces a host of selection dilemmas after strengthening his squad in the summer and Crouch is not the only one who has found it hard to retain a starting place.

And with goals also coming from Dirk Kuyt (two) and Sami Hyypia, Benitez's decisions will not be any easier at the weekend when Liverpool face Derby.

Crouch told ITV1: "It's going to get difficult but as long as I get as many games as I'd like it's okay.

"It's important for us to progress to the next round but on a personal level it's nice to get a first goal (of the season)."

With Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin both already on target for the Reds this season, Kuyt and Crouch face stiff competition for starting berths against the Rams but Crouch has faith in Benitez's selection strategy.

Asked if there was pressure on the pair on Tuesday night, Crouch answered: "I don't know, you could say we're fresher (because of the rest). We both worked well and the idea is to keep us all fresh.

"We're looking good and it was important that we started the season well.

"If we continue to progress the way we have - and all the new players have settled in well - we've got a great chance."

Rafa delighted as Reds
reach group stage

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez paid tribute to the quality of his squad after seeing a much changed Liverpool line-up reach the group stages of the Champions League after a 4-0 win against Toulouse on Tuesday night.

The game was preceded by a moving tribute to Everton fanatic Rhys Jones, whose tragic death has touched the hearts of the whole city. Rhys's beloved Z-Cars anthem was played ahead of the traditional You'll Never Walk Alone, before the players, fans and Rhys's parents and brother stood through an emotional period of applause.

The Reds then went on to produce an excellent performance and won 4-0 on the night thanks to two goals from Dirk Kuyt and further efforts from Peter Crouch and Sami Hyypia, which left Benitez a very happy Reds boss.

"First of all I want to pay my condolences and respect to the family of Rhys Jones," commented Benitez.

"As for the game, I am very happy with my team and we showed the strength and quality of our squad.

"We scored four good goals and could have scored a lot more. We now have two players for each position and everyone can see our squad is a lot stronger than it was before.

"It was good for Crouch and Kuyt to score and they both worked very hard for the team. It was also good for me as a manager to give Sebastian Leto and Lucas Leiva their first games."

Liverpool fans pay
tribute to murdered Rhys

By Mike Hornby - Liverpool Echo

The family of Everton-mad youngster Rhys Jones were tonight given a standing ovation by thousands of football fans at Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez walked along the touchline to hug Rhys’ mother Melanie, 41, and shake the hand of father Stephen, 41, and their eldest son Owen, 17.

The 11-year-old’s family were wearing the blue colours of local rivals Everton FC in amongst a sea of red but football loyalties were set aside in place of grief.

The crowd at Liverpool’s Champions League qualifier against Toulouse heard the Everton theme tune Z-Cars - “Johnny Todd” - as the players arrived on the pitch.

Messages were broadcast over the tannoy several times ahead of the match appealing to witnesses to the shooting in Croxteth last week.

The crowd were told: “Last week 11-year-old Rhys Jones was brutally shot and murdered.

“Rhys loved his football and his club.

“We are playing Z-Cars to show our respect and remembrance for Rhys and his family and to demonstrate that football fans everywhere are united in sadness.”

Fans on the famous Kop stood in silence for the duration of the music which was followed by Liverpool’s own anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone, and a minute of applause from the crowd.

The emotional gesture was made after a suggestion in the local newspaper, The Liverpool Echo, was met with huge support from Liverpool fans and welcomed by Rhys’ family.

Liverpool FC chief executive Rick Parry made contact with the Jones family who informed him they would be delighted at the unique tribute.

Rhys’ uncle Neil Jones told the Liverpool FC website: “When I told Rhys’ parents about the proposed tribute at Anfield, Melanie said ’playing Johnny Todd at Anfield would be a unique event, a complete one off, just like Rhys, and a fitting tribute to him as it was his favourite tune.’

“Melanie is also pretty sure Rhys will have a mischievous grin on his face at the thought of being the cause of it.”

Officers leading the hunt for Rhys's killer have assured frightened witnesses of police protection.

Detectives say they have received a “fantastic response” from the public in terms of tip-offs and information.

But now police are calling on those people to sign witness statements and help convict the youngsters killer.

Assistant Chief Constable Patricia Gallan said: “People are calling Crimestoppers and that is fantastic. All the information we have received will be acted upon.

“We now need to make that information into witness statements. I know that can be a big step for people who are concerned for their identity. But special measures can be taken to protect them in the courts.

“We can protect them and we will help them bring Rhys’s killer to justice.”

Earlier on Tuesday police sealed off Dam Wood, a large wooded area close to the scene where Rhys was shot.

Mrs Gallan said: “It will take time to complete the search and it will only be finished once the job is done properly.”

Around 46 specialist search officers and eight sniffer dogs are being used to comb the woods, which sit between the Croxteth Park estate, and Croxteth.

The search is likely to continue until tomorrow.

Reds cruise to win over Toulouse


Liverpool eased themselves into the Champions League group stages with a 4-0 home win over Toulouse, putting the Reds through 5-0 on aggregate.

On the 800th anniversary of the city the Reds claimed their 50th home European Cup win - plus £12million into the bargain - and it was never easier.

Without Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, they still outplayed an uninspired French side to reach the last 32 of the competition.

Liverpool shuffled their pack again and still produced a side that played fluent, quick-passing football that Toulouse never matched.

Peter Crouch, left out of the last two matches, returned to score after just 19 minutes and captain for the night Sami Hyypia made light of a broken nose to head home the second just after the break.

Dirk Kuyt gained his reward with the third after 87 minutes, drilling a shot in off the far post, and he added a fourth in injury time.

Hyypia captained the side as Javier Mascherano and Mohamed Sissoko were paired in central midfield with Argentinian winger Sebastian Leto making his debut on the left.

Crouch and Yossi Benayoun also both returned to the starting line-up to good effect.

Before the match moving tributes were paid to murdered 11-year-old Rhys Jones, with his parents standing on the touchline as both Everton and Liverpool's theme tunes - Z Cars and You'll Never Walk Alone - were played.

However, last season's beaten finalists had to put all the emotion aside as they went about their job of trying to finish the tie and they set about the French with quick passing and movement.

Benayoun's enthusiasm, pace and skill was at the centre of most of Liverpool's attacks and the opening goal came after when Benayoun worked to get Kuyt into space on the right and his far-post cross was turned in by Crouch's outstretched right leg.

The French started to make chances and Andre Gignac got through on the right when only a fine block from Alvaro Arbeloa halted the surge.

Crouch should have scored again two minutes later when Benayoun popped up on the left and lifted in a cross that the tall striker rose to meet from six yards but planted his header over the crossbar.

Benayoun again was the creator for Kuyt, setting up the Dutchman for a low drive that flashed inches wide of a post. Toulouse responded with a header from Pantxi Sirieix that dropped a yard wide.

Crouch continued his wasteful ways when Arbeloa swung over another cross, again heading over, while Kuyt was next to miss with a header from another Benayoun cross.

Mascherano's powerful run to win a corner on the right set up Liverpool for their second after 49 minutes.

And it came from Hyypia's head as he stood unmarked eight yards out to power home a Benayoun corner.

Toulouse looked disheartened by now but they sent on striker Bryan Bergougnoux for Gignac after 54 minutes but up to that point the French side had barely offered a serious threat and were being thoroughly outplayed.

After 68 minutes Benitez sent on another of his South American imports, youngster Lucas Leiva for his debut, with the £5million Brazilian replacing Sissoko.

Kuyt saw one header bounce wide before almost adding a third after 74 minutes.

He drove in from the right and saw his shot hit Mauro Cetto and deflect onto the crossbar and over. A minute Later Ryan Babel replaced Leto.

Toulouse then took off Achille Emana, sending on Fabio Felix, but Liverpool were all but home by now.

Crouch, with some clever juggling from a John Arne Riise cross, lifted another chance just over the top.

Steve Finnan took over from Daniel Agger for the final minutes, while Moussa Sissoko replaced the injured Jeremy Mathieu.

Kuyt gained his reward for a night of constant running by drilling home the third off the far post after 87 minutes, and then forcing in his second in injury time.

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