Thursday, October 30, 2008


Wednesday 29 October 2008 20:00 , Barclays Premier League

Liverpool stayed top of the Barclays Premier League with victory over Portsmouth.

Tony Adams, in his first match in command of Pompey following Harry Redknapp's departure, saw his side push Liverpool all the way.

Steven Gerrard's spot-kick with 15 minutes left extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches this season.

Liverpool's passing was quick and the movement the same, with the Reds looking like they were going to grab the lead plenty of times in the opening spell.

After 10 minutes Pennant and Alvaro Arbeloa combined to find Dirk Kuyt just outside the box, and his fierce low drive was superbly turned away and onto a post by David James.

Lucas saw a header fly over the bar and Xabi Alonso sent a 20-yarder swerving wide of the left-hand post.

But slowly, Pompey's resilience took the edge from Liverpool's approach play.

headed wide

Crouch was the sole target for much of Pompey's forward movement, winning consistently in the air but missing his strike-partner Defoe.

The visitors' first chance was headed wide by Younes Kaboul from Lassana Diarra's free-kick, and then Papa Bouba Diop missed a sitter.

Diarra's chip found the big midfielder unmarked six yards out, but he planted his free header straight into Jose Reina's grateful hands.

Liverpool responded with a Gerrard shot into the wall from a tapped free-kick, the ball dropping for Jamie Carragher to test James from 25 yards.

Kuyt had a couple more chances in the half, but Liverpool ended the first-half looking for inspiration.

Diarra was booked for a trip on Gerrard just outside the box after 49 minutes, but Alonso planted the free-kick into the wall.

Portsmouth were beginning to look comfortable, Sylvain Distin and Kaboul assured at the back.

two arms

Liverpool needed sharpness, urgency and accuracy with their passing. Hyypia saw a header flash wide and Lucas had an effort deflected past the target, but too many mistakes in possession from Ryan Babel and Pennant hindered the home side's progress.

Liverpool sent on Yossi Benayoun for an increasingly frustrated Pennant and soon after Pompey introduced Niko Kranjcar for Armand Traore.

Next into the fray was Riera, for Babel - and Liverpool increased the tempo.

Distin's block stopped Benayoun when Steven Gerrard had put him clear, and then James saved superbly from Gerrard's 25-yard effort.

Then after 75 minutes Liverpool got their breakthrough. Hyypia's header from Fabio Aurelio's corner was goalbound before Bouba Diop threw two arms into the flight of the ball.

Somerset referee Steve Tanner booked the Pompey midfielder and pointed to the spot, before Gerrard drove home the penalty.

Hughes came on for Diarra with 10 minutes left and four minutes later Defoe replaced Utaka as the visitors sought a point.

Robbie Keane came on for Gerrard in injury-time and almost got on the scoresheet in the final seconds - but there was only one goal in the match.


Liverpool: Reina, Aurelio, Hyypia, Carragher, Arbeloa, Babel, Alonso, Leiva, Pennant, Gerrard (captain), Kuyt. Subs - Benayoun, Keane, Dossena, Riera, Cavalieri, Mascherano, Agger

Portsmouth: James, Traore, Distin (captain), Kaboul, Pamarot, Belhadj, Davis, Diop, Diarra, Utaka, Crouch. Subs - Ashdown, Mvuemba, Hughes, , Defoe, Kranjcar, Hreidarsson

Referee: S Tanner

Man-of-the-Match: Steven Gerrard
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