Sunday, August 13, 2006


Eurosport - Mike Hytner - 13/08/2006 19:38

All pictures-


Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 to take the Community Shield on Sunday thanks to a late headed Peter Crouch winner at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Jon Arne Riise opened the scoring in the first half before new Chelsea signing Andriy Shevchenko equalised to mark his debut with a goal.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez rested several key players with one eye on his side"s Champions League qualifying tie against Maccabi Haifa, captain Steven Gerrard included, but his tinkering provided dividends as Liverpool delivered an early psychological blow to their Premiership rivals.

"The result has given us confidence in ourselves," said a satisfied Benitez. "We have done a very good job against one of best teams in the world."

But more pleasing for the Spaniard would have been the performance of the strike pairing of Craig Bellamy - who started the match on the bench - and Crouch.

The duo worked well together following the Welshman's introduction after 67 minutes, and they showed what they are capable of with ten minutes remaining when Bellamy delivered an inch-perfect cross for Crouch - who had slipped in behind new England captain John Terry - to head home what proved to be the winner.


"It's always a big game against Chelsea, and when you see the players they had today, you know it's a big result," said goalscorer Crouch.

"The manager always wants players to improve," Crouch continued. "Last year was good for me, but I want to get better."

Liverpool had taken the lead after just nine minutes with a thrilling counter attack, Riise picking the ball up on the edge of his own box following a Chelsea corner, before running the entire length of the pitch and firing home from 25 yards.

Stand-in goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was at fault, and should never have let the ball through his fingers, as was perhaps Terry, who stood off from making a challenge for too long, but full marks to Riise, who saw his chance and took it with aplomb.

"I caught it sweet," Riise said. "But to be fair, I thought the keeper would save it. I just smashed it and hoped for the best.

"Everybody worked very hard today," the Norwegian added. "It was a confidence boost for us."


Of the numerous new signings from both sides on show in Cardiff, Chelsea striker Shevchenko was by far the most impressive. The 44 million euros doled out by Chelsea on the Ukrainian international will be money well spent if he continues as he started on Sunday.

With fellow debutant Michael Ballack cautioned and then replaced after injury within the first 25 minutes, the spotlight was left firmly on the former Milan striker and he did not disappoint once Frank Lampard found him with a neat through ball just before the half time whistle.

Shevchenko took the ball in his stride, before looking up and slotting coolly past the advancing Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal. He made it look easy, but apparently that is what you get for such an inordinate amount of money.


Both managers took the opportunity to blood new signings, and Shevchenko and Ballack aside, the barely three-quarters-full Millennium Stadium was treated to the sight of John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou, two more of boss Jose Mourinho's summer captures.

For Liverpool, Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzalez were both impressive on their full debuts, whilst the strength of Benitez's new squad was highlighted by the introduction of new Brazilian Fabio Aurelio and the reappearance of Bolo Zenden, who is as good as a new signing for the Merseysiders, following his injury ravaged season last year.

"We have a better squad than last season," said Benitez. "We can always try to improve but I am happy with this team."

It seems that the REDS have earned their stripes again!!


Good luck for the PREMIERSHIP!!!!

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