Thursday, 20 August 2009

Media Round-Up: Liverpool 4 - Stoke 0

Following Sunday's disappointment's and days of unnecessary scathing attacks from the press on Benitez and his squad, the papers appear mostly positive about last nights demolition of Stoke. Heres the selected highlight's in the 'Media Round-Up':

The Telegraph
"Goals from Fernando Torres, Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog secured the three points and Liverpool fans left Anfield also warmed by the memory of one of the most magical pieces of technique imaginable."

"When Javier Mascherano lifted the ball forward in the run-up to Kuyt’s 78th-minute goal, Steven Gerrard controlled the ball at speed and turned at the same time. It was like Usain Bolt impersonating Johan Cruyff. After eluding Danny Higginbotham, Gerrard slid the ball across for Kuyt’s goal. Stoke were vanquished, although nothing could silence their fans."

"Torres’s fourth-minute goal was superb, another reminder of his uncanny positioning and nerveless finishing, another moment when his understanding with Gerrard seemed based on telepathy."

"Johnson kept pushing forward, playing almost as a winger, and he was nearly snapped in two by Richard Cresswell as he threatened the Stoke area. Johnson’s endeavour was rewarded just before the break. When Gerrard swerved in another corner, Johnson metamorphosed into Gerd Muller 1970 vintage, catching the follow-up with the neatest of volleys, almost breaking the net such was the ferocity."

"For all the good cheer sweeping through Liverpool, it was impossible to be deaf to the noises off the pitch. If speculation about Benitez’s future was promptly dismissed by the club as “2,000 per cent untrue”, the reality of another Spirit of Shankly -organised fans’ demonstration against the club’s deeply unpopular owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, highlighted enduring problems."

The Guardian
"This was a most complete victory over Tony Pulis's men, whose game plan was unhinged inside five minutes when Torres took Rafael Benítez's advice to stop arguing with opponents and match officials and concentrate on what he does best."

"I didn't push him too hard," said Benítez, keen to impress he has no deep-rooted problem with the striker on whom so much rests. "I just said he has to be focused, concentrated, do his job, score goals and be a threat to defenders."

"The rapport between striker and Steven Gerrard came to the fore instantly and Glen Johnson was outstanding. Two assists and a first goal for Liverpool marked a healthy return from the home league debut of the £17m summer signing from Portsmouth and instantly vindicated Benítez's assertion that, although expensive, the England international can solve the problem of rigid defences at Anfield."

"The supporters turned the first home game of the season into another protest at Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool's credit-crunched owners. "Gillett and Hicks Out Now," proclaimed a leaflet distributed by the Spirit of Shankly supporters group and held up by thousands during You'll Never Walk Alone. "Give the owners the red card."

"Torres became the third Liverpool player in two games to suffer a head injury in a collision with Shawcross. "We are top of the league for stitches," said Benítez."

"Johnson impressed throughout, forcing a fine save from Thomas Sorensen and intervening expertly on a dangerous Dean Whitehead cross, and had the Kop singing his name long before the end."

"Rafael Benítez may not be able to count on the kind of owners who will respond favourably to his every whim, but at least his Liverpool team appear to be listening to their manager."

"Then there is Glen Johnson, he of the exorbitant transfer fee and dubious international form. His challenge from Benítez — one that he chose to accept by swapping cash-strapped Fratton Park for cash-stripped Anfield — was to add attacking flair from a deep-lying position, a quality that is sorely needed against stubborn opponents such as Stoke."

"A minute before half-time, Johnson marked his home debut by popping up in Stoke’s six-yard box to score with an acrobatic scissor-kick that doubled Liverpool’s lead. The goal suggests that Benítez has acquired a full back of rare adventure."

"Dirk Kuyt scored the third goal with 12 minutes remaining after a moment of inspiration from Gerrard, who produced a graceful pirouette that was too much for Danny Higginbotham, the defender ending up on the seat of his pants watching Kuyt finish the move."

The Independent
"Johnson's principal rival for the man-of-the-match award was Steven Gerrard, who was behind each of the first three goals. If he had done nothing else, the England midfielder's high-speed "Cruyff turn" in the build-up to Kuyt's goal deserved the thunderous acclaim on his substitution."

"Stoke never looked capable of a first top-flight victory at Anfield. Tony Pulis, their manager, entered the press room saying: "Beaten by a better team. I hold my hands up." Pulis described criticism of Benitez and his players as "crazy", adding: "If they keep everyone fit, they've got the quality to be up there. I'm not saying they'll win it, but they'll be up there with Man United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. Gerrard's touch for the third goal was the mark of a world-class player, but there's not just him and Torres. They've got some smashing players."

The Daily Star
"Liverpool had dominated for long spells and they almost scored after just two minutes when Lucas collected a clearance from a Gerrard centre. He lashed in a powerful shot but it was clutched on the line by Sorensen."

"Some of the Liverpool moves were a joy to watch and Stoke had no answer to the speed of them."

"Torres crashed to the floor with blood coming from a cut above his left eye and had to leave the pitch for three minutes for attention.The knock didn’t put him off his balance. Within minutes of returning, he was in the thick of it with a mazy run that produced the corner from which Johnson scored."

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