Monday, October 25, 2010

El Nino Smiles As Liverpool Secure 3 Pts

Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch to earn Liverpool a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday afternoon. The 26-year-old's winner was his first goal since the win over West Brom on August 29. It came at the end of a crazy five minutes in which Sotirios Kyrgiakos had given the Reds a lead only to see it cancelled out by a Jamie Carragher own goal. The result sees Liverpool leapfrog Sam Allardyce's men into 17th place in the Barclays Premier League. Hodgson made seven changes from the side that earned a creditable draw in Napoli on Thursday, with rested stars such as Steven Gerrard, Raul Meireles and Torres back on the teamsheet. They helped Liverpool make a lively start, with the hosts almost earning a lead with eight minutes on the clock when Torres split open Blackburn's defence with an angled ball to Maxi Rodriguez. The Argentinean's cut-back was met by Joe Cole, whose effort was in turn saved by the legs of Paul Robinson. Meireles pounced on the rebound but fired into the hoardings on the stretch. Minutes later it took a crucial header from Phil Jones to deny Torres a free nod at goal six yards out. The home side were playing with a confidence often missing this season. Next, Lucas sprayed a delightful ball down the right to Carragher, whose cross was directed wide by Torres. At times it looked like Blackburn were playing into a head wind as Liverpool hemmed them in, with Gerrard, Maxi and Meireles all finding gaps in which to play their football. Kyrgiakos was next to force Robinson into a save with a bullet header from Gerrard's corner. When Blackburn did offer a rare threat on 25 minutes, Liverpool's break was almost devastating, Reina bowling out to Gerrard, who lent the ball to Lucas and Meireles before forcing a superb block from former England goalkeeper Robinson. The Reds were pressing high, winning everything in the air and creating chances. The only thing missing was a goal. That nearly came with Gerrard's delicious cross into the box on 29 minutes. Lucas and Meireles both attempted contact but the ball was eventually cleared by Martin Olsson. Blackburn's riposte was to obstruct Pepe Reina while launching high balls into the box, a tactic not aided by the enforced substitution of Steven Nzonzi on half-an-hour, the lanky midfielder being replaced by Vincenzo Grella. The visitors had Michel Salgado to thank for their half-time clean sheet, the ex-Real Madrid defender getting his head in the way of a Meireles whack that was rocketing towards the top corner. The final chances of the half fell to South American duo Lucas and Maxi: the Brazilian heading narrowly wide after Kyrgiakos helped on a Gerrard corner; the Argentinean failing to connect with the skipper's superb ball into the area. Liverpool started the second half as they finished the first, only this time they immediately made their pressure count. Blackburn had not looked convincing from corners all afternoon and were made to pay for their dithering when an unmarked Kyrgiakos powered a header into the Kop goal via an irrelevant touch from Olsson. The lead lasted less than three minutes, however, as substitute Benjani beat the otherwise excellent Martin Skrtel before crossing to Diouf. The objectionable winger's shot was blocked on the line by Meireles, only for the clearance to hit Carragher and ricochet into the net. Heads might have dropped, but a remarkable period of play was not over yet - and on 53 minutes the Reds were back in front when Torres volleyed home a wonderful centre from Cole. It was the Spaniard's fifth goal in four appearances against Allardyce's men. Kyrgiakos might have got a second with another header midway inside the second period, which transpired to be the last serious opportunity of the game.

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