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Saturday, 27 September 2008
TORPEDO TORRES DISTROY EVERTON
It is often billed as the 'Friendly Derby' due to the amicable relationship enjoyed by fans of both clubs. For instance, it is not unusual to have one Liverpudlian family containing both red and blue blood but there will be no love lost on the pitch as feisty encounters are almost a guarantee - Everton and Liverpool fixtures produce the most red cards out of all Premier League encounters.
David Moyes named a five man midfield that he hoped would stifle any potential attacking threat from a Torres/ Keane partnership with Gerrard, Kuyt, and Riera supplying. Phil Neville lined up ahead of a back four consisting of Lescott - who was a consistent (and goalscoring) defender last term - with Yobo, Jagielka, and Hibbert.
Liverpool's £45million strike force had not bore fruit prior to kick off as the latest of Rafa Benitez's high profile signings, Robbie Keane, was yet to open his goal account. After having one perfectly good goal ruled out against Stoke City last weekend, Steven Gerrard was still chasing his 100th Liverpool goal and many fans, including Evertonians, believed it was pre-written before the game that he would find the net at lunchtime.
As the noon sun beat down on the most successful footballing city in England, two tribes strutted out to a loud chorus of cheers, jeers, and an aura reeking of a rapturous expectancy.
Hope; apprehension; concern; and excitement... many emotions surrounded Goodison Park and the unique atmosphere effectively translated to the pitch as nerves matured into passion and some early challenges were waved on but referee Mike Riley issued a cautionary booking to Marouane Fellaini on the tenth minute for a challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.
The decision was perhaps a harsh punishment, but Rafa Benitez and his side will know all about Fellaini after the former Standard Liege midfielder helped maintain a two-legged stalemate between the Reds and Liege during this season's third qualifying round in the Champions League. Liverpool sunk Liege though with a late Dirk Kuyt struck extra time winner.
Some weak shots and half-chances were proffered to each sides as Phil Jagielka denied Fernando Torres a shot on goal as the latter almost got in front of the former. For the Blues Mikel Arteta could have broken the deadlock but his soft shot was easily collected by Pepe Reina.
Liverpool enjoyed a greater share of the possession in the first half of the opening 45 but it was Everton who had an opportune moment to find the net had it not been for a mammoth interception from Martin Skrtel two inches off the line to frustrate Fellaini. Reina failed to collect a heighty ball and Fellaini was through but ended up shooting straight at Skrtel's thigh.
The typical derby ambience began to fizzle out when the clock edged closer to the half-way mark and the game lost it's early zazz. Riley should shoulder some of the blame as his whistle to mouth action was unnecessarily relentless: an average of at least one foul every two minutes resulted in a game that never had a chance to build on it's early flow and as such, the half time team talks would be crucial if either side were to return with the intention of claiming all three points.
Benitez will be keen to stress on his Reds the importance of the final ball as Torres; Keane; and Riera have all been found guilty of sloppy play in the last third of the pitch and have squandered both chances and possession. His defence is also a little suspect after Tim Cahill was set up from a corner kick but lucky for Liverpool the Austalian international couldn't get the ball out from his feet.
David Moyes on the other hand will be insistent on persistence, coupled with ordering his side to make their chances count. Tim Cahill was a handful, with a penalty shout just before time being judged as fair, but so far their half-chances would need to become full chances if they are to achieve anything from the second half.
Within minutes the referee's yellow gets more of a breather as it is shown to Yakubu, and then Torres. The Nigerian striker was booked for a dive in the box under a challenge from the Slovakian international Skrtel, and the Spaniard was cautioned for complaining after a free kick was awarded against him.
On the 50th minute Torres was penetrating the Blue box after a sharp turn and got his shot away but it was comfortably saved by Tim Howard. The European Championship winner was then duly jeered by the home support.
The stalemate was broken though ten minutes after the interval when Robbie Keane sent an outstanding cross into the danger area with his left foot. Dirk Kuyt charged into the box and dragged Joleon Lescott with him leaving an unmarked Torres to strike the ball first time with his left and found space between Howard's legs: a well-worked, and perfectly executed goal.
There is an old saying that a side is at their most vulnerable after they have scored, but the opposite is true for today as Liverpool counter-attacked when Everton were vulnerable. Jagielka slid in to take the ball away from Dirk Kuyt, but in so doing he pushed the ball onto Torres' path who did not need a second invitation to again strike first time and left Howard no chance as the away side doubled their lead.
Five minutes later Liverpool could have had a third, and then a fourth, but the score stayed at two as the first shot was deemed to have already gone out of play before it hit the net, then the second was pulled back because of a shirt pull in the area.
The goals have seen Torres' confidence shoot skyward as he starts to look like the potent force we had grown accustomed to seeing last season. With twenty minutes left to play he was zipping around the pitch, playing with pace, and taking defenders on.
In keeping with the Merseyside tradition an early bath was awarded to Tim Cahill on the 80th minute. Riley though will have to take a long, hard look at himself after the game and ask whether a challenge that that he deemed worthy of a straight red, was in fact a sending off offence.
Two minutes before full time Louis Saha rifled in a bullet left-footed drive that whiskered Reina's right hand post. The fixture finished two goals to the good for the away team though and Liverpool leap-frogged Arsenal to go top of the table, perhaps albeit temporarily as the Gunners host Premier League new boys Hull City in just under three hours.
Despite only being at Liverpool for one season, Fernando Torres is now the club's current joint top goalscorer in Merseyside derbies. He shares the honour with Steven Gerrard, both of whom are on three goals and counting.
David Moyes membanjiri lini pertahanan Everton dengan lima pemain. Tujuannya adalah menahan laju serang Fernando Torres atau Robbie Keane yang akan ditandemkan dengan Steven Gerrard dan Kuyt serta supply bola dari Riera. Phill Neville diposisikan sedikit maju dari empat pemain lainnya yang terdiri dari Joleon Lescott, Joseph Obo, Phil Jagielka, dan Tony Hibbert.
Sayang, usaha tersebut hanya bertahan pada babak pertama dimana berakhir dengan hasil kaca mata, alias 0-0. Meski ball possession Liverpool secara keseluruhan lebih unggul, 60 persen berbanding 40 persen, tidak satu gol pun tercipta pada 45 menit pertama.
Peluang pertama Liverpool datang tepat pada menit ke-17. Hasil kerja sama apik antara Torres dan Riera masih bisa dibendung oleh kiper Everton.
Kebekuan pecah pada menit ke-59 melalui tendangan ringan kaki Torres, hasil umpan cantik Robbie Keane. Tidak butuh waktu lama, tiga menit berselang dari gol pertama, Torres kembali tak terbendung dengan merobek jala gawang Everton untuk kedua kalinya, 2-0 untuk Liverpool.
Hasil tersebut bertahan hingga babak kedua berakhir. Sayang, pertandingan derby semalam harus diwarnai kartu merah yang dihadiahkan wasit Mike Riley kepada Tim Cahill ketika sepuluh menit pertandingan akan berakhir. Selain itu, sebanyak enam kartu kuning dikeluarkan wasit dalam pertandingan tersebut.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Saha 64), Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Fellaini, Osman, Cahill, Yakubu
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt, Alonso (Lucas 85), Gerrard, Riera (Aurelio 67), Torres, Keane (Pennant 85)
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