Liverpool bounced back from the dramatic 4-4 draw against Arsenal in midweek to take a vital victory to maintain their title aspirations.
Clearly tired from the midweek exploits, the Reds were poor in the first half but an improved second half performance gave them three points.
Sunshine welcomed the players at the KC Stadium for a massive game at both ends of the Premier League table – Liverpool still holding hope of winning their first league title in 19 years, Hull looking to survive their first season in the top flight of English football.
Rafa Benitez opted for Lucas in the ‘Gerrard-role’ behind Torres with Kuyt and Benayoun switching wings during the first 45. It didn’t work at all and Hull pressed our back four and midfield two, not allowing them time on the ball and breaking up our usual fluid play.
The first half saw few chances for either side and if Tuesday was one of the best matches in Premier League history, this certainly wasn’t. Arbeloa in particular had a poor first 45 (although he was much better in the second) but only Benayoun was on his game, one jinxing run lead to our best chance of the half. Yossi has really impressed in Gerrard’s absence and is getting the benefit of a run of games. It baffles me why he wasn’t played in the central role behind Torres – who lacked service behind the back four all game, only Yossi can provide the types of through balls Gerrard usually does.
Xabi Alonso’s thunderous strike after his free-kick came back off the wall opened the scoring just before half time. It was a hell of a goal! In all honesty, Hull were probably the better side in the first 45, with sloppy passing plaguing Liverpool’s game as they failed to find their rhythm.
The second started much better and Liverpool began to dominate possesion and territory. The hosts were then reduced to 10 men who Folan struck Skrtel from behind, some suggest he kicked him, others claim it was an arm to the back of the head, I didn’t see it but sure the media will have a field day working it out as no doubt Phil Brown will have a good moan. For some bizarre reason the locals gave the departing Folan a standing ovation despite him just whacking our player and leaving his team with 10 man.
Kuyt made it 2-0 soon after, heading home from close range after a well worked corner between Benayoun and Alonso – our two most creative players – had fallen to Skrtel who mishit his shot, which bounced up and Kuyt headed it in past Myhill.
Skrtel wasn’t having a good game and a long ball out to our right saw him up against Cousin who got his cross in and Giovanni came in at the back post to make it 2-1 against the run of play. Skrtel has been struggling since coming back from international duty where he endured a nightmare against England for Slovakia. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Agger play next week against Newcastle.
Kuyt made it 3-1 late on from close range after a long period of possesion as Liverpool looked to close the game out, bringing on Agger and El Zhar. Arbeloa had been getting a lot of joy down the right in the second half and was allowed into the area, his shot was parried by Myhill and Kuyt was on hand for a poachers goal. The Dutchman, playing his 100th game for the club, celebrated with a mischevious Rafa style ‘gesture’ to signal game over – Dirk obviously has a great sense of humour, well in lad!
The Hull fans again showed their colours late on, having chanted ‘Your gonna win f**k all’ (eh?!) earlier they proceeded to chant ‘United, United’ – as their team battles against relegation. Clever people the Hull folk. Hopefully we won’t be seeing them next season.
With United now having come from 2 down to hammer Spurs 5-2, we remain second, three points behind and just four games remaining (Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom, Spurs)… If we are going to win it, we must hope Arsenal do us a favour and an other from Boro, Man City, Wigan and Hull. They do have the Champions League semi-final to distract them so we must continue to believe. Boro are fighting for their lives, they host United next Saturday lunchtime, if they get something off them we can take advantage on Sunday against Newcastle.
Hull: Myhill, Ricketts, Zayatte, Turner, Kilbane, Fagan (Mendy 62), Boateng (Manucho 79), Marney, Geovanni, Barmby (Cousin 62), Folan
Subs Not Used: Duke, Hughes, Garcia, Halmosi
Sent Off: Folan (59)
Booked: Marney, Barmby, Fagan
Goals: Geovanni 72
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt (Dossena 90), Alonso, Mascherano (El Zhar 84), Benayoun (Agger 87), Lucas, Torres
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Riera, Aurelio, Ngog
Goals: Alonso 45, Kuyt 63, 89
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Weather: Sunny, warm