LIVERPOOL 3 - 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC
Saturday 18 October 2008 15:00 , Barclays Premier League
KUYT SEALS ANOTHER COMEBACK WIN
Rafa Benitez's comeback kings did it again after twice coming from behind to secure a 3-2 victory over Wigan.
Dirk Kuyt hit two goals, including a dramatic winner with just five minutes to go, to see off Steve Bruce's plucky side.
Albert Riera also bagged his first Liverpool strike on a day when Wigan's Amr Zaki caused havoc in the Reds defence with a fine brace.
The game's other flashpoint came on 74 minutes when Antonio Valencia received a second yellow for a late tackle on Xabi Alonso.
Benitez's men now go into next weekend's top of the table clash at Stamford Bridge level on points with Chelsea, who beat Middlesbrough 5-0.
Wigan's reputation as a brutish side masks the fact that, under Bruce, they play without fear or worry regardless of the opposition. The addition of the Egyptian Zaki has added a touch of class which means they don't always have to park a metaphorical bus.
And so it was today, when for 80 minutes they held their own against a Liverpool side enjoying their equal best start to a Premier League campaign.
It took an expert tackle from Jamie Carragher in the home box to thwart the visitors with less than five minutes on the clock, while Olivier Kapo forced a smart save from Pepe Reina midway inside the first half.
As the drizzle swept across Anfield, the hosts were restricted to a long range effort from Alonso and a solitary one-on-one for Robbie Keane after a sublime throughball from Riera. Sadly, the Irishman could only dink wide with the outside of his right boot.
Shortly after, with 29 minutes on the Anfield scoreboard, Wigan's endeavour paid dividends, albeit in fortunate circumstances when Agger, making his first league start for 13 months, was too presumptuous in collecting Reina's short pass.
If there was one player he didn't want to see on his shoulder ready to pounce on any loose control it was Wigan's lucky number 13, Zaki, who stole a march on the Dane before slotting past Reina.
If Liverpool were to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign, they'd have to come from behind for fifth time this season.
No problem. It took just eight minutes for the Reds to draw level with a goal scored by Kuyt but created almost entirely by the seemingly redeemed Agger.
There looked to be little on when the centre-back embarked on one of his trademark surges forward, but a neat ball from Riera saw him gain possession in the box, where a canny piece of skill created enough space to deliver a low cross to Kuyt, whose bumbled shot found its way beyond Chris Kirkland.
The goal was Kuyt's third in consecutive games, a feat not previously achieved since he arrived from the De Kuip Stadium in 2006.
Liverpool almost took the lead twice before Alan Wiley called time on the opening period, first when Kuyt thundered a long-range shot against the crossbar, then when Riera glanced a header across the face of goal from a Jermaine Pennant cross.
Then, just as it seemed Gerrard and co were in the ascendency, Anfield was stunned by a goal of the month certainty. We were two minutes into injury time when the highly-rated Valencia swept in a cross which Zaki hit acrobatically home.
The second period began promisingly enough when an Alonso floater was met by the head of Agger only for Lee Cattermole to clear off the line.
Next Kuyt missed a golden opportunity to level, hitting straight at Kirkland from six yards after a Keane cross.
Liverpool were starting to ask serious questions, though it wasn't yet all out attack from the Premier League's comeback kings.
Gerrard came close with a 20-yard free-kick which took an age to take due to squabbling over the proximity of Wigan's wall.
The home cause was aided somewhat on 74 minutes when referee Wiley flashed a second yellow at Valencia for a clumsy challenge on Alonso, making him the third player to be sent off for a tackle on the Spaniard in as many league games.
Benitez, meanwhile, introduced Yossi Benayoun and Nabil El Zhar, the latter having been praised for his contribution to that late, late comeback against Middlesbrough earlier in the campaign.
Incredibly, the young Moroccan again made an instant impact from the bench, cutting back for Riera to slam home from 20 yards with 10 minutes remaining.
Surely Liverpool couldn't do it again? Yes they could.
Gerrard, Torres and Carragher have all made heroes of themselves in recent months with last-gasp goals. This time it was Kuyt who took the glory, firing a Pennant delivery against the ground and into the top corner on 85 minutes.
A player who two weeks ago hadn't scored a league goal in 11 months now had three in two games.
Ian St John, sat in the Anfield press box for this one, doubtless got a text from his old mate Jimmy Greaves.
Yes, Jimmy, it is a funny old game, he might have replied.
Liverpool: Reina, Dossena, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Riera, Gerrard (captain), Alonso, Pennant, Kuyt, Keane. Subs - Hyypia, El Zhar, Leiva, Ngog, Cavalieri, Insua, Benayoun
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Cattermole, Bramble, Figueroa, Melchiot (captain), De Ridder, Scharner, Palacios, Kapo, Valencia, Zaki. Subs - Boyce, Koumas, Brown, Taylor, Pollitt, Kilbane, Camara
Referee: Alan Wiley
Man-of-the-Match: Dirk Kuyt
Goals Video Clip : EPL LIVERPOOL 3 - 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC
wigan : Amr Zaki (29') | Rapidshare
Amr Zaki (49') | Rapidshare
Liverpool : Dirk Kuyt (37') | Rapidshare
Albert Riera (80') | Rapidshare
Dirk Kuyt (85') | Rapidshare
Highlights Video : Liverpool vs Wigan Athletic
Full Match Video : Liverpool vs Wigan Athletic
Download Torrent : Miniova