Xabi embarrasses the Toon

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Match Report by TIA Forum Member redbill250505 [Click here if you’d like to write a future report for us]

On a night that, for the best part of ninety minutes saw some scruffy football; Dirk Kuyt get his first goal for the club; Luis Garcia briliantly ‘school’ the Geordies backline only to hit the post and Liverpool finally profited from some dodgy refereeing ‘” Xabi Alonso took the headlines as he tackled well in his own half, turned, went past the referee, looked up and drilled in the most spectacular goal in the club’s 115 year history from more than 70 yards.

Alonso’s vision to see goalkeeper Steve Harper well off his line allowed him to beautifully float the ball over the Newcastle keeper’s head from all of 75 yards. As he scrambled backward Harper slipped but arguably Alonso already had him beat. The more amazing thing is that is the second time this year the Spaniard has achieved such a feat (scoring from his own half) this calendar year!

That goal added an element of glamour to a match, which, in sharp contrast was entertaining only in patches. Rafa Benitez made two changes to the side that lost to Chelsea on Sunday. The impressive Steve Warnock made way for the Brazilian Fabio Aurelio at left back and Luis Garcia made a welcome comeback into the first team settling nicely at the left side of the field to allow Stevie Gerrard to move to the right after Jermaine Pennant had picked up an injury that morning. Sami Hyypia found himself on the bench and Dan Agger got yet another start.

After a cagey opening, Liverpool started getting their act together, and it was a brilliant control and pass by Luis Garcia that set Craig Bellamy flying towards the Newcastle goal, his weak effort, however posed little problem for the stand-in keeper Harper.

A brilliant bit of vision from Alonso saw Steve Finnan crossing the ball low inside as Kuyt went ahead of his marker and like a true poacher, put it past Harper in the 29th minute. The Dutch international, however, had a mixed game and was guilty of missing two gilt-edged chances, one of them being a header from four yards out.

Liverpool’s defence did well for the most part, but not without moments of uncertainty. Shola Ameobi had three penalty claims turned down, to be fair two of which could have ended up being awarded had there been a different referee. But penalty appeals were the only bit of impression that the Geordie frontmen could leave on the match. Martins, filling up the boots of Shearer, could not be traced during the match. In a contrast, it is a testament to the quality of the Anfield side that even a patchy performance saw them create at least four clear chances.

For the home side, Alonso mastered the midfield through a series of well strung passes, while Garcia had an electric outing. Constantly switching wings with Gerrard, the irrepressible Spaniard showed some brilliant control and skill. During the World Cup, in a column, Garcia admitted his indifferent form in the Premier League and believed he had finally come to terms with the English way of the game. If his performance tonight is a sign of things to come then the fans are in for a treat from this Spanish international.

Craig Bellamy was lively against his old club, though he missed two excellent chances, especially when one-on-one with Harper in the second half and his dink over the keeper went wide when really he should have scored. His energy and speed has definitely added an edge to the attacking line.

Before tonight, there were voices raised against the inclusion of Alonso in the starting eleven, those voices have now retired in the darkness re-learning that the phrase ‘˜form is temporary, class is permanent’ is, like most clichés, true. Harper may have slipped, but it was easier for Xabi to slip up from that distance. What vision, technique and execution. A howitzer fired with the smoothness of Swiss wine rolled over pure silk’”’˜a sight to dream of, not to tell’.

Liverpool definitely deserved the three points, but against an opponent who will test their defence more strongly, you feel that they have to cling onto their chances more often. Seventy yard strikes won’t come to their rescue each time they miss from four yards.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Luis Garcia, Alonso, Sissoko, Gerrard (Gonzalez 85), Bellamy, Kuyt (Crouch 82)
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia, Warnock
Booked: Luis Garcia (handball)
Goals: Kuyt 29, Alonso 79

Media Reports:

Sky Sports: Xabi cracker seals Reds win
Lfc.Tv: Alonso high as a Kuyt as Reds win
BBC Sport Report

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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