Last night’s victory over PSV Eindhoven in the final Champions League group game was a superb performance from a second string Liverpool team who came from a goal down to beat the Dutch side 3-1 and finish top of the group. Here, we take a look at a pleasantly impressed selection of morning papers.
Paul Walker of The Independent highlights the performance of Ryan Babel, who has impressed in recent games, and was the instigator in the second half comeback.
Babel, so often a peripheral figure when he features in Liverpool’s starting line-up, was showing far more intensity, forging another chance for himself after 59 minutes when he cut in and fired a low shot into the side-netting. PSV still needed the win, though, and kept coming forward at pace.
Benitez has come under fire in recent times for fielding understrength line-ups that have been found wanting, but not on this occasion. His much-changed team, with Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso all given a breather on the bench, grew in authority and gave him every reason to reflect with pride on a job professionally done.
Perhaps it was sheer determination of some players who don’t get much first team action to prove themselves to Benitez that brought such a mature, impressive performance last night. And Robbie Keane who has come under immense scrutiny of late, showed fine flourishes throughout despite getting on the scoresheet, says James Ducker of The Times.
It was beautifully created by Robbie Keane, who, restored to the starting line-up after being kept on the substitutes’ bench against Blackburn, grew in confidence and influence as the game wore on and may feel as though he has turned a corner after an indifferent start to his Liverpool career.
And Neil Johnson of the Daily Telegraph is full of praise for Benitez, even tipping the Reds to go all the way in Europe this season.
Top of the Premier League table, Rafa Benitez poised to commit his future to the club until 2013 and an impressive performance by his fringe players on the Champions League stage. It is safe to say the feel-good factor is awash at Anfield.
Application, perspiration and inspiration will be needed over the remaining rounds if Liverpool are to win the European Cup for a sixth time. On this evidence, you would be foolish to bet against them from doing it.
Liverpool next play Hull City on Saturday at Anfield. Kick-off is 3pm.