Impressive Reds have
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
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
There is a different dimension to the team now, an air of
confidence and an authority the manager has impressed upon
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
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
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
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".
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
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
"If we continue to progress the way we have - and all the
new players have settled in well - we've got a great
delighted as Reds
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
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
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
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
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
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.