Saturday, February 7, 2009

Portsmouth 2 Liverpool 3

Torres puts Liverpool on top

Fernando Torres came off the bench to score an injury-time winner against Portsmouth and send Liverpool to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Torres only came on with 15 minutes to go and by that time his side were chasing victory after David Nugent's opener had been cancelled out by Fabio Aurelio.

The Spain striker then set up Dirk Kuyt to equalise Pompey's second goal from Hermann Hreidarsson before heading home the winner himself in stoppage time.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez gave Fernando Torres a rest and named the Spain striker on the bench for the Barclays Premier League clash against Portsmouth.

With skipper Steven Gerrard out with his hamstring injury, it put the spotlight on Benitez's decision to offload Robbie Keane back to Tottenham as the Irishman would have been in the frame to start at Fratton Park.

Instead it was David Ngog, the 19-year-old French youngster, leading the attack and starting his first league game since arriving from Paris St Germain in the summer.
He was one of six changes Benitez made to the side that lost to Everton in the FA Cup this week.

Pompey had Angelos Basinas making his debut, Sol Campbell returning from a hip injury and Nadir Belhadj back from suspension.

The hosts forged the first attacks, with David Nugent clipping a volley which Jose Reina needed to claim. Nugent then provided a cross for Peter Crouch, against his former club, to have a shot saved by his former team-mate.

Pompey goalkeeper David James, equalling Gary Speed's Premier League record of 535 appearances, was left stranded when Liverpool put their first purposeful move together.

Alvaro Arbeloa's cross from the right found Yossi Benayoun unmarked in the penalty area but his finish went into the side-netting after James had slipped.

James would have had no chance either when Fabio Aurelio's free-kick curled just wide of the upright. The Brazilian was off-target again in the 17th minute when Ngog's cross found its way behind the Pompey defence.

Javier Mascherano is not known for his goalscoring but he had James at full stretch when he was given room 30 yards from goal, with the Pompey stopper diverting the effort for a corner.

Reina was called into action at the other end and positioned himself well to stop Basinas's free-kick, then he saw Crouch volley over the crossbar after referee Howard Webb inadvertently touched the ball in the build-up.

Pompey boss Tony Adams took off Hayden Mullins at the break and brought on Niko Kranjcar, who was coming back from a groin injury.

Ngog had a shot blocked by Hermann Hreidarrson but, like the first half, clear-cut chances were proving difficult to create.

Basinas' delivery from set-pieces was a likely source, and Sol Campbell was inches away from connecting with one of his free-kicks.

The hosts also had a penalty shout when Daniel Agger slipped and smothered the ball - but Webb instantly made his decision to wave play on.

Ngog's evening came to an end before the hour mark, with Dirk Kuyt brought on for the visitors - and it nearly brought an instant reward.

Benayoun breezed past Hreidarsson and Sylvain Distin before laying the ball off to Kuyt. The substitute crossed to leave an open goal for Ryan Babel from three yards out - but the winger somehow managed to nutmeg himself as he finished

Nugent made Liverpool pay with his 62nd-minute opener. Crouch had held the ball up before playing a reverse ball to his strike partner, who slotted his finish calmly past Reina.

Liverpool's way back into the match came after an awful back pass from Crouch.
James had to handle to stop Kuyt from finishing, with Webb alert to the offence.

Xabi Alonso, on as a substitute, tapped the ball for Aurelio to smash into the bottom corner from the indirect free-kick inside the box.

Kuyt then had the ball in the net but was harshly given offside after racing on to Aurelio's through-ball.

Torres came on for the last quarter of an hour, for Babel, but Pompey were ahead again with 12 minutes remaining.

Belhadj swung over a free-kick after Glen Johnson was fouled, with Hreidarsson losing his marker and heading past a wrongfooted Reina.

Kuyt levelled in the 85th minute after Torres crossed from the right and the Dutchman finished into James' near post. Torres then headed into the near post in stoppage time to send Liverpool top.

No comments :

Post a Comment