After The Match 


Liverpool-Portsmouth 1-0 (0-0)        29.10.08                      PL
Goals: Gerrard (75 pen)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Aurelio, Pennant, Alonso, Leiva Lucas, Babel, Gerrard, Kuyt
Subs: Benayoun (Pennant 63), Riera (Babel 72),
Keane (Gerrard 90)
Not used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Agger, Mascherano
Yellow: Diarra (49), Diop (77)
Red: None
Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset)
Attendance: 43.378
Shots on target: 5-1
Shots off target: 10-3
Blocked shots: 4-1
Fouls conceded: 13-13
Corners: 7-1
Offsides: 4-5
Possession: 56.9-43.1
Yellow: 0-2

the end we were a bit nervous..."
Rafael Benitez

3010: Benitez delight at clinching
          win despite making four changes

2910: Adams eyes Pompey joy
2910: Gerrard spot on for Reds 


Benitez delight at clinching
win despite making four changes

By James Pearce - Liverpool Echo

Rafa Benitez believes last night’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Portsmouth highlighted the strength of his Liverpool squad.

The Reds boss made four changes to the side which beat Chelsea as he handed starting roles to Sami Hyypia, Jermaine Pennant, Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel.

Javier Mascherano, Robbie Keane, Albert Riera and Daniel Agger were all rested, but the Reds were still able to maintain their three point lead at the top of the Premier League, courtesy of Steven Gerrard’s 76th minute penalty.

“After the victory against Chelsea getting three points tonight was really important,” he said.

“The message is that we can change players and still win.

“Clearly, with another game at Tottenham in three days and then the Champions League match against Atletico, we will have to change players again.

“Today it was clear some different players could give us fresh legs.

“Keane and Riera had some problems and were also a bit tired, so I wanted to protect them a little bit.”

The Reds struggled to break down a resolute Pompey rearguard, but Benitez insisted he always had faith the breakthrough would arrive.

“We knew it would be difficult because they are a good team who were trying to impress their new manager,” he said.

“I think everybody could see they were defending well with bodies behind the ball.

“It wasn’t easy to find space so we had to be very precise with the final pass.

“In the first half we were very dominant, creating chances and controlling the game.

“The second half was a little bit more open. We made changes and tried to find other solutions, but I always had confidence we would score.

“Towards the end we were a bit nervous when they were playing long balls and we couldn’t get the second goal to finish the game.

“Confidence is high but it’s a long race ahead. Our fans have to enjoy our position and we will try to stay there.”

Adams eyes Pompey joy

Sky Sports

Tony Adams believes he will be a great fit as Portsmouth manager after watching his men narrowly beaten at Anfield on Wednesday night.

A stout rearguard action from Pompey only failed to get a point as Papa Bouba Diop gave away a needless penalty late on that Steven Gerrard converted for the win.

Portsmouth also had a couple of great chances to come away with more than a point and Adams was disappointed to come away with nothing from his first game in charge.

"We're extremely disappointed we didn't come away with anything," said Adams.

"Funnily enough we had the two best chances of the match but one moment of madness and we've come away with nothing - but that's this league it's unforgiving.

"I'm not going to have a go at him (Diop) he's worked extremely hard, they all have.

"We set our stall out to be hard to beat tonight and we'll have to take it on the chin."

Adams was delighted with the commitment and hard work shown by his players now that he has taken charge.

The new boss left Jermain Defoe on the bench until five minutes from time, and he insisted that it was a tactical decision he needed.

"As long as they give us that commitment every week then me and this football club aren't going to go far wrong," Adams added.

"I saw him Jermain rubbing his calf and we've had some beatings away form home at Manchester City and away at Braga so we had to be stronger.

"I want J (Defoe) to be top scorer at this club and challenging for top scorer in the league but also I'm realistic and we are away at the team top of the table.

"Some decisions I will make will be tactical, some emotional, and that one was tactical tonight. I've no problem with J and I hope he scores lots of goals at this football club."

As Adams comes to terms with being a Premiership manager, he says that he is fully confident he can follow in Harry Redknapp's footsteps.

"I've got a great bunch of players here at Portsmouth who will work hard and who I trust.

"My feet are firmly on the floor, I'm a realist, but I think this might work out.

"I think we'll be alright me and Portsmouth, I've got a funny feeling - maybe I'm wrong and maybe it wont but I think we'll be alright."

Gerrard spot on for Reds

By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports

Liverpool remain three points clear at the top of The Premier League after they huffed and puffed and finally blew Portsmouth’s house down to win 1-0 at Anfield.

In a hugely one-sided affair, Papa Bouba Diop proved Pompey’s villain and Liverpool’s hero with 14 minutes remaining, needlessly handling inside the area to allow Steven Gerrard to rattle home the match-winning penalty.

On Tony Adams' first official match in charge, Pompey fans will hope the negative tactics employed at Anfield aren’t a sign of things to come under his reign, as Jermain Defoe remained on the bench until the 84th minute.

In fairness, Adams could have come away with a point had it not been for Diop’s moment of madness, but on the flip side Liverpool could have scored four or five.

Adams was clearly worried by the possibility of a Liverpool onslaught after their victory at Chelsea, yet what The Kop got was more of a slow-burner, a sparkler rather a rocket.

Make no mistake, The Reds had all the ball and territory, but the presence of Lucas in midfield was shackling Xabi Alonso’s creative opportunities, while Jermaine Pennant flattered to deceive out wide.

Dirk Kuyt remains something of a changed figure though, and he almost broke the deadlock in the 10th minute after a swift one-two between Arbeloa and Pennant, fizzing in a spearing 20-yarder that David James turned onto the post.

With Peter Crouch operating alone upon his return to Anfield, Pompey had hardly come to Merseyside intent on throwing the kitchen sink at Liverpool, and then going back for the bathtub. However, they should have led on 26 minutes. Crouch laid off the initial ball to Sean Davis, whose delicate dink into the middle found Papa Bouba Diop totally unmarked. The big Senegalese rose, The Kop held its breath, Jose Reina saved.

It was a let-off for Liverpool, whose major threat always appeared to be Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard, yet their best football of the half did not arrive until five minutes before the break.

First Kuyt rippled the side-netting from Gerrard’s reverse pass, and then Gerrard himself brought the best out of David James with a similar effort to the one from Kuyt that hit the post.

Right on half time, Babel moved the ball to Kuyt, who instantly flicked to Gerrard, who returned the ball immediately in a sublime one-touch move, but Kuyt’s touch let him down when a goal surely beckoned. From the follow-up Arbeloa curled wide, and that was the half gone. 0-0.

Liverpool simply had to get behind the Pompey defence in the second half, yet Gerrard looked the only man capable of doing so, as he did five minutes after the interval, but his magnificent volleyed cross drew plenty of admirers but no takers as Kuyt failed to anticipate.

The skipper’s next cross would be met by the imperious blond mop of Sami Hyypia, but the big Finn’s near post glance was too meaty and the ball flew wide.

Benitez had seen enough, Pennant had contributed next to nothing all night, Yossi Benayoun came on. Adams responded in kind, off came Armand Traore for Croat Niko Kranjcar.

Pompey’s shape remained intact though, forcing Babel inside to narrow Liverpool’s options. The one time he did burst into the box from Kuyt’s lay-off, his left foot let him down as the ball flew high into The Kop.

Babel looked on the brink of something all night, and his next piece of acceleration opened the way for Alonso to shoot, but this time there were no heroics like at Stamford Bridge three days ago.

Suddenly it was all Liverpool though, Gerrard playing the most sublime slide-rule pass you’ll ever see, but Benayoun wanted too many touches as he bore down on James - Sylvain Distin making the heroic block. Aurelio then stung the palms of James from 25 yards, cries of anguish bellowed out of The Kop. They were answered in seconds.

From the resulting corner, Papa Bouba Diop lost Sami Hyypia, and out of pure desperation he decided to play volleyball inside his own area…penalty. Gerrard is the man for big moments, David James knew which way to dive but the velocity was such that The Kop roared and so did Gerrard.

Now Pompey needed to break their overly defensive shackles, yet still Defoe continued to get splinters on the bench. With six minutes left, he was off his seat, because Pompey should have levelled. Nadir Belhadj delivered the perfect left wing cross, pace, whip, cunning, but somehow Diop managed to miss his header when five yards from goal.

Liverpool win again...but they'll want to start making life easier for themselves soon.

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