In Rafa Benitez’s 250th match in charge of Liverpool, Steven Gerrard scored his 100th goal for the club, Robbie Keane finally scored his first for the club, and Dirk Kuyt once again scored in Europe as Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 win over PSV Eindhoven at Anfield on Wednesday night.
The win makes it two wins from 2 in Champions League play this season, and sets up the double header against Atletico Madrid with both teams having won both their opening fixtures.
BBC Sport Report
Dirk Kuyt put the Reds ahead after four minutes, following up after Andreas Isaksson saved Fernando Torres’ volley.
Keane made it 2-0 before half-time when he hooked home Torres’ bouncing cross.
Steven Gerrard wrapped up the win with a ferocious free-kick – his 100th goal for Liverpool – before Danny Koevermans bundled home a consolation for PSV.
There are sure to be sterner tests ahead for Liverpool in Europe this season than the visit of the Dutch champions but Reds boss Rafa Benitez has plenty of reasons to be satisfied after his side’s convincing display.
PSV clearly came to Anfield with the intention of frustrating their hosts but they managed to do so for only four minutes before Kuyt broke the deadlock.
Visiting keeper Isaksson did well to deny Torres, who had ghosted in unmarked to meet Steven Gerrard’s cross, but he should have done better with Kuyt’s shot which span out of his grasp and into the top corner.
From then on it was hard to see how Huub Stevens’ side were going to emulate Stoke City, the only side not to leave Anfield empty handed this season.
PSV persevered with five men across the back – which at least kept Liverpool quiet immediately after they had scored – but with Nordin Amrabat on his own up front they were restricted to long-range efforts on goal in their search for an equaliser.
Liverpool, meanwhile, continued to look menacing and, even before his goal, Keane might have had a penalty when he was tripped in the area by Carlos Saicido.
Torres was next to threaten, rising unmarked to head a Fabio Aurelio corner wide, and it was fitting that he was involved in Liverpool’s second goal on 34 minutes.
Much has been made of the potential potency of Torres’ partnership with Keane but the common consensus is that it will be the Republic of Ireland international who will be creating chances for his Spanish team-mate.
The opposite was the case here, with Torres combining well with Kuyt on the right before sending over an inviting cross that Keane despatched past the helpless Isaksson to end his Liverpool goal-drought in his 11th game for the Reds.
Aside from his fruitless spell with Inter Milan, Keane has never had to wait this long for his first goal for a club and the relief in his trademark celebration was obvious.
PSV, to their credit, continued to work hard and Otman Bakkal and Amrabat both sent shots skidding wide of Pepe Reina’s goal.
But Liverpool were still more than comfortable and Torres should have made it 3-0 when he ran on to Jan Kromkamp’s sloppy backpass only to see his attempted flick drifted wide.
The third goal did arrive on 74 minutes, courtesy of Gerrard, who marked his century of Reds goals with an absolute scorcher.
Gerrard, so often Liverpool’s saviour in the past, has scored more crucial goals for his club in the past but few have been better strikes than his free-kick, which left Isaksson standing.
That should have capped a fine night for the Anfield faithful but instead it was PSV who had the final word, Koevermans meeting a deep cross and getting enough on the ball to beat Reina.
The end result was never in doubt, however, and Liverpool will head into back-to-back fixtures with Atletico Madrid in a strong position to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Kuyt, Gerrard (Babel 81), Alonso, Riera (Benayoun 68), Torres, Keane (Leiva Lucas 75).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Agger, Mascherano.
Goals: Kuyt 5, Keane 34, Gerrard 76.
PSV: Isaksson, Kromkamp, Simons, Marcellis, Salcido, Brechet (Pieters 46), Mendez (Dzsudzsak 76), Culina, Bakkal, Amrabat, Wuytens (Koevermans 60).
Subs Not Used: Cassio, Rodriguez, Zonneveld, Nijland.
Goals: Koevermans 78.
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
Group D: Atletico Madrid 2-1 Marseille
Anorthosis Famagusta 3-1 Panathinaikos
Bordeaux 1-3 Roma
CFR Cluj-Napoca 0-0 Chelsea
Inter Milan 1-1 Werder Bremen
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Barcelona
Sporting Lisbon 2-0 Basle
Next Up (Champions League): Atletico Madrid (a), 22nd October