Saturday, September 27, 2008

Everton 0-2 Liverpool

It's hard to say whether we played well or Everton badly - I suspect it was at least in large part down to the latter - but for a derby this was a surprisingly comfortable game. True, Everton probably had the better chances of the first half - a Cahill air-kick from a corner and Carragher clearing off the line after Reina missed a cross - but they were isolated moments: the attacking play was almost all Liverpool, albeit without end product (just after half-time, my mate Tom predicted a 0-0 draw).

Thankfully, all changed in a five minute period. First Keane got on to a long pass and - doing well to keep it in - lobbed a rather hopeful looking cross into the box, over Kuyt (who'd dragged Lescott to the near post) only to fall invitingly for Torres to run onto and shoot into the net. Soon after, a second followed - this time, Kuyt was briefly given space in the box only for two defenders to slide in, the ball falling to Torres unmarked to slot home a second. I'm not sure whether it will last, but the Liverpool website is currently showing clips of both goals free.

Things could have got much worse for Everton as, over the next five or so minutes, we twice more had the ball in the net only to be ruled out. Kuyt's I think rightly, because the ball had clearly gone out of play and the defenders seemed to have stopped, but Torres was denied a hat-trick because Kuyt was adjudged to have fouled a defender, which I thought was rather harsh.

Still, things arguably even out when Cahill received straight red for a foul on Alonso after 79 minutes. It wasn't has bad as Pogatetz on Possebon, but somewhat similar in style - initially sliding with one foot, but also connecting with the trailing leg - so not too surprising to see it given red. Opinions are divided on whether it was harsh or deserved - personally, I'm sitting on the fence and saying that it was 'between red and yellow' (so couldn't complain much either way), but only a deluded fool would claim it affected the result: Reina didn't have to save a single goal-bound shot all match.

Overall, any derby win is good, but it was pleasing to see the 4-4-2 work better than against Stoke. Gerrard pulled some strings from deeper in midfield, while Kuyt and Keane got in the box - the latter showing some promise in creating the first goal - and, best of all, Torres is back to scoring form after his injury. In the first half, he looked a little petulant - even picking up an unnecessary booking - but as soon as he scored his body language changed. That's the way to answer critics. And I believe he already has more Premiership goals away from Anfield this season (3) than last (2).

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