Torres breaks Pompey hearts

2009-02-07 21:48

Portsmouth - Fernando Torres came off the bench to score a priceless stoppage time winner as Liverpool came from behind twice to beat Portsmouth 3-2 at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Reds manager Rafael Benitez's decision to omit Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Xabi Alonso from an under-strength starting line-up looked to have cost Liverpool dearly as his side were trailing 2-1 until six minutes from time.

But Kuyt levelled with a sublime 85th minute shot before Torres headed in Yossi Benayoun's 91st minute cross to send Benitez's men top of the Premier League table, although champions Manchester United can replace them with a draw at West Ham on Sunday.

Liverpool were already weakened by the absence of injured captain Steven Gerrard and Portsmouth could have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute when David Nugent carved a good opportunity for Peter Crouch.

Nugent turned Jamie Carragher on the edge of the six-yard box before rolling the ball neatly into his strike partner's path but Crouch passed up the chance to score against his former club, scuffing a weak right foot shot straight into the arms of a relieved Jose Reina.

Liverpool were unlucky not to go in front in the 11th minute when Fabio Aurelio beat goalkeeper David James with a curling 25-yard free kick, which brushed against the outside of the right hand post before going behind for a goal kick.

Javier Mascherano is not renowned for his goal scoring but it needed a superb fingertip save from James mid-way through the first half to turn the Argentine's fierce 20-yard drive wide.

Dutch forward Kuyt was called from the bench with the second half just 11 minutes old to replace the ineffective David Ngog and set up Ryan Babel for what should have been the opening goal within seconds of coming on.

Kuyt collected Benayoun's pass before bursting into the 18-yard box and whipping in a teasing low cross to leave Babel with an empty net and only the Dutch international will know how he contrived to miss his kick and let the ball sail harmlessly away for a Portsmouth throw-in.

Babel and Benitez were made to pay in the 62nd minute when Nugent gave Portsmouth a surprise lead.

Nugent, a fan of Liverpool's local rivals Everton, got in behind a static Reds defence to latch onto Crouch's threaded through ball before calmly rolling a right shot through the legs of the onrushing Reina and into the centre of the net.

Liverpool were behind for just seven minutes before being gifted an equaliser by a mistake from Anfield old boy James.

James inexplicably blocked Crouch's back pass with his arm, leaving referee Howard Webb with no alternative bit to award a free kick 12 yards out.

Substitute Alonso teed the ball up for Aurelio to blast a right shot through Portsmouth's ten-man wall and into the bottom right corner.

Torres was finally brought on for the final 14 minutes in place of the hapless Babel as Liverpool pushed forward in search of a much needed winner.

But Portsmouth clearly had other ideas and retook the lead when Herman Hreidarsson rose above Mascherano to head Nadir Belhadj's free kick past a despairing Reina as Benitez's commitment to zonal marking cost his side dear once more.

Kuyt drew Liverpool level for a second time with a splendid strike.

Torres cut the ball back from the byline after home defender Sylvain Distin had made a mess of his attempted clearance and Kuyt brought the ball onto his right before lashing it into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles.

Just as Liverpool's 3 000 travelling fans were contemplating two points dropped, Torres popped up to expertly steer Benayoun's left wing centre past James at his near post in stoppage time.


  • RyanGiggs - 2009-02-07 21:58

    Portsmouth deserved to win. Fools struggled against a team facing relegation. Proof yet again of dismal squad, without Torres pool would be bottom of the table. Enjoy the top for a couple hours its all downhill thereafter.

  • bob - 2009-02-08 09:57

    you could say the same for all United's last gasp 1-0 wins in the last 2 months...

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-08 11:00

    'RyanGiggs' you clearly don't know what you are talking about, because we have played half the season without Torres due to injuries and we were top! So its not all Torres!

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-02-08 20:45

    Bob Martin we get 1-0 results playing quality opposition while Fools scrape 3-2 playing sides on the verge of relegation. Admit it u got lucky in a game u were set to loose. And anonymour Gerrard is another u guys cant do without, lets see how u go in the next 3 weeks.

  • the kop - 2009-02-09 08:14

    ryan giggs lol no comment you are a man utd fan not a football fan which is typical...give credit where its due..... i know its hard for a brainless person like you.....

  • Bryan - 2009-02-09 08:20

    Quality opposition Ryan??! You mean like at home to a managerless Sunderland? Who were alot closer to relegation at the time than Portsmouth are now... You guys have been so lucky so many times this season! Also you've "peaked" way to early... Oh well

  • lobo - 2009-02-09 09:24

    yeah kop, have to agree with you, the oke's a half-wit.

  • Shaheen - 2009-02-09 09:43

    Well... there you Liverpool fans have it, no surprises for who's top of the League. Personally I don't care if a team scores in the first minute, or in the very last. The match is 90min + stoppages, so well done to Liverpool (for saving their title race for another week). However, I do think that Rafa got a bit lucky... I mean starting with 5 at the back for a match against Portsmouth? Please... If he doesn't change his style, Liverpool will slide further out of contention by dropping points, with over elaborated formations and systems. From a football point of view, it's now or never, and Liverpool has to go all out... 4-4-2 stick to what works, just look at Man United. But then again we have Ronaldo (Babel/Rierra), Nani (Kuyt always seems to be on the flanks) so they don't have the players for 4-4-2 probably. And then there's players like Giggs, Tevez, Berbatov, Scholes etc. Oh and Rooney is out injured. You hear us crying about that?

  • LadyinRed - 2009-02-09 09:47

    RyanGiggs, why do you feel the need to be so offensive against the Reds? Is it because you know we are serious contenders in the title race with you? Our final 3-2 score against Pompey was more impressive than your 1-0 effort against West Ham yesterday. And we came back much better in the second half with our key substitutions. Man U lacked an edge yesterday and it showed. It took Ryan Giggs, a veteran of 20 years, to bring you some respect. I admit that was a superb effort, but what if he hadn't played? You would surely have ended 0-0. Don't pick on Captain Fantastic and Torres. As Anonymous (11.00am) says, it's not all Torres, nor is it all Gerrard as we proved on Saturday and on previous occasions.

  • the kop - 2009-02-09 10:11

    Shaheen- think you need to stop watching bob tv ,we didnt play 5 at the back ,we played a 3-4-3 formation.get yr facts right son.Aurelio played in midfield.....OH ryan the only reason giggs has scored from the start of the EPL is because his been in the team since sure any attacking winger who started then would have scored every season as well.

  • Shaheen - 2009-02-09 10:42

    Don't get me wrong... this is Liverpool's best chance since 95/96 to win the title (I speak under correction). And any slip from either side will be a hard blow. From my point of view, I don't think Liverpool has the capacity for a sustained title challenge, and it's for United to lose the title, but we'll have to wait until the final day... @the kop: for Ryan being there since the Premier League started, well that's just testimony to the type of professional he is, there's aren't too many of the Loyal players around these days, Gerrard is definitely one, others that come to mind is Raul and Del Piero

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-09 12:11

    Rafa Benitez was wheeling his shopping trolley across the supermarket car park when he noticed an old lady struggling with her bags of shopping. He stopped and asked, “Can you manage dear?” to which the old lady replied, “no way you got yourself into this mess, don’t ask me to sort it out!”

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-09 12:12

    Two boys are playing football in the park when one of them is attacked by a rottweiler. Thinking quickly, his friend rips a plank of wood from a fence, forces it into the dog’s collar and twists it, breaking the dog’s neck. All the while, a newspaper reporter who was taking a stroll through the park is watching. He rushes over, introduces himself and takes out his pad and pencil to start his story for the next edition. He writes, “Manchester City fan saves friend from vicious animal.” The boy interrupts: “But I’m not a City fan.” The reporter starts again: “Manchester United fan saves friend from horrific attack.” The boy interrupts again: “I’m not a United fan either.” The reporter asks: “Who do you support, then?” “Liverpool,” replies the boy. The headline the next day: “Scouse b*****d kills family pet”

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-02-09 12:17

    Green lady what if Torres wasnt brought on as a sub? pool would be 3 points down..Fools dont have the depth to be serious contenders...kop pool gets credit for having a brilliant manager prone to meltdowns..heres how its going to play out: United win at Fulham and Blackburn and go 8 points clear before pool go to City...the pressure and a superior city results in pool losing say 2-0..theres no way u chasing from that position..title wont be decided when u visit OT but settled before that

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-09 12:21

    Benitez sent scouts out around the world looking for a new striker to replace Michael Owen who had gone to Newcastle. One of the scouts informs him of a young Iraqi striker who he thinks will turn out to be a true superstar. The Liverpool manager flies to Baghdad to watch him and is suitably impressed and arranges for him to come over to Anfield. Two weeks later Liverpool are 4-0 down with only 20 minutes left. The manager gives the young Iraqi striker the nod and on the field he goes. The lad is a sensation, scores 5 in 20 minutes and wins the game for Liverpool. The fans are delighted, the players and coaches are delighted and the media love the new star. When the lad comes off the pitch, he phones his mum to tell her about his first day in English football. "Hello mum, guess what?" he says. "I played for 20 minutes today, we were 4-0 down but I scored 5 and we won. Everybody loves me, the fans, the media, they all love me". "Wonderful," says his mum. "Let me tell you about my day. Your father got shot in the street, your sister and I were ambushed and beaten and your brother has joined a gang of looters while you were having a great time!" With this news, the young lad is very upset. "What can I say mum, except I'm so sorry". "Sorry!" exclaims his mum. "It's your fault we all moved to Liverpool in the first f***ing place!"

  • kwabs - 2009-02-09 13:33

    you guys are always picking on captain fantastic and torres for saving liverpool. thats because when you look at your teams you dont have someone to pull a top notch performance when the team really needs one.i say forget those haters, good on liverpool for winning. Man Utd better stop watching the reds and start thinking about their own title race.

  • RyanGiggs - 2009-02-09 21:18

    Captain fantastic? Does Graeme Smith moonlight for pool?

  • Nazeem - 2009-02-10 10:09

    Ryan, buddy, c'mon, stop posting comments here, fellow United supporter... These Liverpool no hope, title holder wannabe's are dragging you down to their level and beating you with experience.... Lets go after some better quality opposition and argument... I hear there is a good debate going on over at the Aston Villa site..... I hear they finishing second in the premiership this year, and from their current performance I'd say they have a strong case...

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