Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Liverpool 4-0 Toulouse (CL Qualifier)

I was saying to a friend the other day that it's not often we wrap games up. Against Aston Villa we almost paid the penalty, against Chelsea we did and even at Sunderland we left it late to make the game safe with a second. Well, this potential banana skin didn't cause me much worry once Crouch had added to our first-leg lead, but it wasn't until Hyypia's towering header just after half time that I was sure it was safe.

The two late goals from Kuyt added a gloss to the scoreline that was hardly undeserved, but the truth is that each of our strikers could've had 3 or 4 and - what's more worrying - they weren't denied by good goal-keeping, as at Sunderland, but an inability to hit the target from relatively clear chances. Neither Crouch nor Kuyt really create many chances for themselves - by which, I don't mean they score tap-ins with little left to do, but they do rely on others to deliver them the ball in the box - so I think their finishing ought to be better, although they do contribute to the team defensively too.

In general, however, I'm very happy with a team that was missing Gerrard and Carragher, but showed our strength in depth this season. Hyypia proved himself a very dependable stand-by. Not only is he still a great defender, but he was prepared to get forward and - at one point, just after the commentator mentioned his spriteliness - was seen running up the right flank. Truth be told, it was probably a good job he wasn't tested by a pacy attack, but the fact he was able to lose his marker not only for the second goal but also at the next corner suggests it was actually the French who had trouble catching him.

The other performer who stood out was, of course, Benayoun. Yet to figure in the Premiership this season, he was our main creative influence and suggested he could be key in unlocking tight defences with clever passing. A very different player to Pennant, I noticed he is willing to stay wide to receive the ball, but prefer to cut in with possession. With both of them playing well, Rafa has a tough selection problem on his hands - though for one I'd like to see both now, swapping flanks, against Derby at the weekend.

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