29 August 2007

LFC 4 - To Lose 0 (Agg 5-0)

Liverpool eased themselves into the Champions League group stages with a 4-0 home win over Toulouse, putting the Reds through 5-0 on aggregate.
On the 800th anniversary of the city the Reds claimed their 50th home European Cup win - plus £12million into the bargain - and it was never easier.
Without Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, they still outplayed an uninspired French side to reach the last 32 of the competition.
Liverpool shuffled their pack again and still produced a side that played fluent, quick-passing football that Toulouse never matched.
Peter Crouch, left out of the last two matches, returned to score after just 19 minutes and captain for the night Sami Hyypia made light of a broken nose to head home the second just after the break.
Dirk Kuyt gained his reward with the third after 87 minutes, drilling a shot in off the far post, and he added a fourth in injury time.
Hyypia captained the side as Javier Mascherano and Mohamed Sissoko were paired in central midfield with Argentinian winger Sebastian Leto making his debut on the left.
Crouch and Yossi Benayoun also both returned to the starting line-up to good effect.
Before the match moving tributes were paid to murdered 11-year-old Rhys Jones, with his parents standing on the touchline as both Everton and Liverpool's theme tunes - Z Cars and You'll Never Walk Alone - were played.
However, last season's beaten finalists had to put all the emotion aside as they went about their job of trying to finish the tie and they set about the French with quick passing and movement.
Benayoun's enthusiasm, pace and skill was at the centre of most of Liverpool's attacks and the opening goal came after when Benayoun worked to get Kuyt into space on the right and his far-post cross was turned in by Crouch's outstretched right leg.
The French started to make chances and Andre Gignac got through on the right when only a fine block from Alvaro Arbeloa halted the surge.
Crouch should have scored again two minutes later when Benayoun popped up on the left and lifted in a cross that the tall striker rose to meet from six yards but planted his header over the crossbar.
Benayoun again was the creator for Kuyt, setting up the Dutchman for a low drive that flashed inches wide of a post. Toulouse responded with a header from Pantxi Sirieix that dropped a yard wide.
Crouch continued his wasteful ways when Arbeloa swung over another cross, again heading over, while Kuyt was next to miss with a header from another Benayoun cross.
Mascherano's powerful run to win a corner on the right set up Liverpool for their second after 49 minutes.
And it came from Hyypia's head as he stood unmarked eight yards out to power home a Benayoun corner.
Toulouse looked disheartened by now but they sent on striker Bryan Bergougnoux for Gignac after 54 minutes but up to that point the French side had barely offered a serious threat and were being thoroughly outplayed.
After 68 minutes Benitez sent on another of his South American imports, youngster Lucas Leiva for his debut, with the £5million Brazilian replacing Sissoko.
Kuyt saw one header bounce wide before almost adding a third after 74 minutes.
He drove in from the right and saw his shot hit Mauro Cetto and deflect onto the crossbar and over. A minute Later Ryan Babel replaced Leto.
Toulouse then took off Achille Emana, sending on Fabio Felix, but Liverpool were all but home by now.
Crouch, with some clever juggling from a John Arne Riise cross, lifted another chance just over the top.
Steve Finnan took over from Daniel Agger for the final minutes, while Moussa Sissoko replaced the injured Jeremy Mathieu.
Kuyt gained his reward for a night of constant running by drilling home the third off the far post after 87 minutes, and then forcing in his second in injury time.

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