Jumat, 05 November 2010

[News] Treble Joy for Gerrard

Substitute Steven Gerrard struck a sensational second-half hat-trick as Liverpool came from behind to snatch a 3-1 victory in a keenly contested Europa League clash with Napoli on Thursday night.

The skipper deflected home visiting stopper, Morgan De Sanctis's attempted clearance on 75 minutes before slamming home a late penalty and a delightful dinked finish to earn the points after the visitors had taken the lead through Ezequiel Lavezzi's smart first half strike.

It means Roy Hodgson's side remain top of Group K, three points ahead of Steaua Bucharest after four matches played.

Ahead of the clash, the Barclays Premier League showdown with Chelsea occupied much of the pre-match chatter and Hodgson's team selection indicated he had one eye on the game with the leaders, as he made six changes from Bolton.

In came Glen Johnson for his first appearance since October 3 while the likes of Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey, who impressed in Naples, were once again given the opportunity to shine.
As if buoyed by recent results Liverpool were fast out of the traps too but, despite some good possession, it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous.

On three minutes, a well worked counter attack saw Lavezzi break down the right flank and when he fizzed a low ball into the six yard box, Paul Konchesky was fortunate to see his attempted clearance crash into the side netting of Pepe Reina's goal.

The Serie A outfit appeared to have more of a threat in the attacking third and midway through the half they had another sight of goal as Edinson Cavani latched onto a clever through pass and smashed a right foot volley into the stand.

For all Liverpool's endeavour there had been little to shout about for the home support and Napoli continued to probe, with Lavezzi seizing upon Shelvey's misplaced pass and drilling a venomous shot just beyond Reina's left-hand post.

With the away side in full flow, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Hodgson's men and on 28 minutes they found themselves behind. Christian Poulsen misjudged a header in his own half allowing Cavani to nod the ball into the path of Lavezzi. The Argentine raced into the penalty area before showing fine poise to slip the ball beyond the advancing Reina.

Liverpool needed a response and they should have had it just three minutes later as David Ngog exchanged a neat one-two with Poulsen before stabbing his effort from 12 yards just wide.

Johnson then went close to marking his return from injury in style but saw his rasping left foot drive well saved by De Sanctis.

In truth, Liverpool's first-half display would not have impressed John Henry and new director of football strategy Damien Comolli watching in the stand, and it was no surprise that Hodgson made the decision to introduce Gerrard as a half-time replacement for Milan Jovanovic.

The change immediately sparked the hosts' attack into life and on 51 minutes the inspirational No.8 should have levelled but he flashed his shot high into the stand after De Sanctis had brilliantly denied Ngog from close range.

There was a clear improvement in Liverpool's approach play and they again went close just shy of the hour mark when Shelvey miscued his far post header following a great run and cross from Ngog.

Next it was Raul Meireles's turn to hold his head in hands, steering wide from 10 yards out after Shelvey had caused havoc in the Napoli defence.

There was no doubt which side was now in the ascendancy and after sending a low free-kick inches past the far post, the skipper finally levelled matters in the most fortunate of circumstances.

A probing run from Shelvey should have been cut out by the Italians' rearguard, but a poor back pass allowed Gerrard to race in on De Sanctis and ricochet the 'keeper's attempted clearance into the far corner of the net.

It was a huge slice of luck for Hodgson and co but one they would have felt their second half showing deserved.

With the clock ticking down the Reds continued to push forward and two minutes from time they snatched the lead when Gerrard converted from the spot after Johnson was felled in the area.

And the midfielder rubbed salt in Napoli's wounds a minute later, latching onto substitute Lucas Leiva's well-timed challenge and clipping the ball over De Sanctis to seal victory.

Source: www.liverpoolfc.tv 

dink : an imitation of the sound of the ball being hit
effort: an earnest attempt to achieve something
devastation: widespread damage, destruction, or devastation
powerful position: a position of power or domination over others
rebound: to hit a surface and bounce, traveling away in a different direction

Congratulations, Liverpool!

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