Liverpool 4-0 Burnley: Benayoun Hat-Trick Downs Burnley

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A hat-trick from Yossi Benayoun and a Dirk Kuyt tap-in saw Liverpool demolish Burnley 4-0 despite a brave and organised start from the visitors.

Before kickoff, there was an air of slight trepidation around Anfield with Liverpool fans acutely aware of Burnley’s giant-killing feats against neighbours Everton and Premier League champions Manchester United. While they were thankful for Owen Coyle’s men taking six points off their two most bitter rivals, the Kopites were silently hoping that they too would not fall to the Claret sword. With two defeats in only four games, Liverpool had already lost the same amount of games as they did in the whole of last season.

Rafael Benitez made two changes from the victory at Bolton with defender Martin Skrtel returning from injury to replace Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Benayoun replacing Javier Mascherano, who was not even in the squad due to his recent return following World Cup qualification duty with Argentina on Friday night. Despite having returned from injury, Fabio Aurelio was not risked into inclusion; presumably while he builds up fitness. Tactically, Steven Gerrard was dropped into a deeper central midfield role.

Liverpool began with patient passing at the back but initially struggled to make real impact in the opposition half. Burnley were resolute in closing down any attacking play and maintained a firm shape. Whenever they won the ball, the Clarets constantly ran into space to support the man in possession without threatening greatly.

The first real chance of the game fell to Dirk Kuyt as flowing interplay between Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera resulted in the ball breaking free to the Dutchman outside the edge of the area. Kuyt shot straight through the gap in defence but goalkeeper Brain Jensen was able to get his six-foot-one frame in front of it.

The next twenty minutes proved frustrating for Liverpool with long range shots from Fernando Torres, Martin Skrtel and Kuyt reflecting the frustration that was looming on the Kop. Exasperation was compounded when Albert Riera, frequently unmarked by the marauding Tyrone Mears, was set through on the left flank with Burnley on the back foot. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, no one was available in the area to meet his hopeful cross.

Benitez eventually signalled for to Kuyt to move infield with Glen Johnson solely patrolling the right flank. Captain Gerrard was urged further forward and began to dictate play after an anonymous opening spell.

The tactical adjustment soon paid dividends with the slight but elusive Benayoun out-jumping Andre Bikey and Clarke Carlisle to meet a Riera cross. The resulting header flew just over the bar.

The home team became much more potent with Gerrard breaking from midfield and threading the usual through ball to the swooping vulture Torres. Left-back Stephen Jordan was not reading the script; aggressively intercepting right at the 25-year-old’s feet.

Burnley’s resistance was short-lived in the 25th minute as Benayoun combined with Gerrard. Johnson darted on the over-lap and spotted the Israeli international’s resulting run into the area. Benayoun mazed between two defenders and flew a shot in at Jensen’s right post to give Liverpool the lead and ease any tensions.

Deflated, Burnley switched off and could not pick up the enterprising Torres who broke rapidly from his own half to supply Emiliano Insua on the left wing. The youngster played in Benayoun who drove a shot in from outside the area. Jensen was able to parry it but could not keep out the rebound from the opportunistic Kuyt. The hard working striker made it 2-0 heading into half time.

The second half begun in scrappy fashion with a dubious penalty appeal only deemed a free kick after Gerrard fell somewhat easily under an opposition tackle on the edge of the area.

Burnley brought on former Manchester United player Chris Eagles to try to add guile on the wing but Liverpool kept pressing. A darting run in the area from Torres was cut off superbly by an urgent Mears tackle.

Liverpool’s third was inevitable when Torres played in Gerrard on the right hand side. The England midfielder rocketed into the box and, with the goal in his sights, had a terrific chance. The chance became a certainty as he selfishly cut the ball across to Benayoun to claim his second goal of the day.

Gerrard continued to dominate; hitting the post after another purposeful run into the area. A late free-kick bounced off the hapless Jensen into the path of the lethal Benayoun. The Israeli believed he had his hat-trick but the goal was ruled offside.

Benayoun did not have long to wait. His cunning movement caught Jordan on a misjudged offside trap and capped an exceptional performance with the match ball after an easy finish.

Ultimately, Burnley intended to frustrate Liverpool but the Israeli wizard lit up the game. Rafael Benitez’s attacking adjustments should also be credited with Gerrard and Torres more influencial after being moved further upfield.’

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 12, 2009.

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