Saturday, August 11, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 0 FC Gomel

Luis Suarez was the inspiration as Liverpool cruised into the final qualifying round of the Europa League with a 3-0 win over FC Gomel - and it seems Joe Allen is about to provide further cheer for the Anfield faithful.

After telling Swansea he wants to move north, Allen was present to watch Suarez create first-half goals for Fabio Borini and skipper Steven Gerrard as the Belarus outfit proved no match for the Merseyside giants.

Glen Johnson added another after half-time.

It was a positive way for Brendan Rodgers to mark his first home game in charge, particularly with his first signing Borini capping a useful performance by grabbing a precious goal on his home debut, thrashing home a first-time shot from 10 yards.

More significant tests are to come and the presence of Reds' former assistant-manager Steve Clarke was a reminder that the first Premier League game against West Brom is only nine days away.

However, this win should at least settle some of the nerves which have started to grow amid speculation that Daniel Agger and Andy Carroll might end up joining the summer exodus from a club that expects much better than last season's eighth-place finish.

There are some who wonder whether Rodgers would be happy to pocket the cash for Agger to fund a squad strengthening exercise but the Liverpool manager was fulsome in his praise yesterday and was prepared to put Jamie Carragher on the bench to accommodate him on Thursday evening.

Suarez was the most telling presence though.

Eight days after his Olympic campaign with Uruguay came to a sorry end in Cardiff and with a lucrative contract signed earlier this week, he approached the tie with a sense of purpose.

Suarez raced onto a return pass from Gerrard before flashing a shot inches over, then left Gomel skipper Nikolai Kashevsky looking silly with a smart turn.

Unfortunately for the South American, he could not profit from his impudence as Vladimir Bushma got down to save his angled drive.

Gomel were finding it impossible to subdue Suarez and when he outsmarted them again with a run to the byline, it led directly to Liverpool's opener.

Kashevsky stuck out a leg to turn the low cross out of the six-yard area but in doing so sent it straight to Borini, who promptly smashed a first-time shot under Bushma's body.

It was a fine way for Borini to mark his home debut and the former Chelsea man thought he was going to get another shortly afterwards, only for Sergey Matsveychyk to turn away a Suarez cross that was about to leave the Italian with an empty net.

Instead, Gerrard got one four minutes from time.

Once again Suarez did the spadework, driving into the heart of Gomel's defence and drawing Bushma, leaving the Reds skipper with the simplest of tasks.

With a place in Friday's draw secure, Liverpool went in search of more goals after the break.

Gerrard thudded a shot against the base of a post before Suarez went on another mazy run through a Gomel defence.

His shot would have squeezed in at the far corner had Bushma not managed to touch it behind with an excellent low save.

Liverpool's third eventually arrived from an unlikely source 19 minutes from time as Johnson charged onto a loose ball, controlled on his chest, then belted home a left-footed shot from the edge of the area.

Suarez's hopes of a goal were dashed when he was denied a clear run by a debatable offside flag and Allen was still in his seat when his prospective new team-mate curled a shot straight at Bushma in the final minute.

Rodgers Salutes Suarez

Brendan Rodgers declared himself satisfied with Liverpool's performance after the 3-0 win over Gomel in the Europa League on Thursday and had special praise for Luis Suarez.

The Reds were made to work hard in the first leg in Belarus last week but were much more impressive at Anfield as goals from Fabio Borini, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson secured a 4-0 aggregate victory.

And Rodgers was delighted with the display, singling out Suarez as the star man after he set up the first two goals.

"Luis is an incredible player," the Liverpool boss said. "He has come back to us and looked great in training.

"He is so creative in the box but he also presses very well when he doesn't have the ball.

"He is the type of player I love. He is in love with football. He has such passion for the game.

"His combination work with Steven Gerrard and Fabio Borini was excellent."

Rodgers was also pleased that Borini opened his account on his home debut.

Having worked with the striker at Chelsea and Swansea, he had no doubts Borini could add something to his team - hence why he was so keen to lure him back to England from Roma.

"It is important for any striker to score because they are judged on their goals," Rodgers said. "But I brought him here because I know he can score.

"He is only 21 and has a lot of improvement left in him.

"But with his work-rate and his ability on the ball I think he will fit in very well to our team."

Reina Asks For Patience

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes that time should be given to manager Brendan Rodgers for him to implement his footballing style at Anfield.

The Premier League club got the better of FC Gomel 3-0 on Thursday in style, thanks to goals from Fabio Borini, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson.

The win saw Liverpool progress to the play-off round of the Europa League, leading Reina to express his faith in Rodgers' footballing philosophy.

"It was a good night's work," the Spain international told the club's official website.

"We kept a clean sheet and got the result, played well, got through, and I'm happy for the fans.

"It's always enjoyable for me when the team wins, especially when we keep a clean sheet. That's the way it should be in almost every game, especially at home.

"It's coming along little by little. We have to be patient. It will take time - it's not a four-week project. We want to create our own style of play and that will take a little longer than four weeks.

"All we ask from the people is to be patient and have trust in the team because I think we are going to come good."

Reina was part of the Spain squad that successfully defended their European Championship title last month, and was given an extended break by Liverpool.

However, the 29-year-old insists that he is glad to be back in action for the Reds.

"I'm always happy to come back. It's been a busy summer - a happy, but busy summer - but it's great to be back," added Reina.

"I'm looking forward to the start of the season and hopefully we can continue to keep getting positive results at Anfield."

Liverpool will host Bayer Leverkusen in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

Allen Completes Liverpool Move

Liverpool Football Club is delighted to announce that midfielder Joe Allen has completed his transfer from Swansea City.

The Wales international signed a long-term contract after passing a medical at Melwood.

After finalizing the deal, Allen told "I feel incredible. Everyone knows the history of this club, it's a massive club, and I'm delighted to have joined.

"The passion that people here have for football is something I share and I want to be part of that.

"I'm looking forward to being part of some great years ahead for Liverpool Football Club."

The 22-year-old becomes our second summer signing following the arrival of Fabio Borini.

Brendan Rodgers said: "I'm absolutely delighted that Joe has made the decision to come with us on this journey.

"Joe is a player whose profile will fit perfectly with the ideas of this group. His ability to control and dominate the ball is an important ingredient in our attempt to gain success on the field.

"Joe has had a fantastic education at Swansea City and will now begin the next chapter in his exciting career, and I wish him all the very best in what I'm sure will be a long and distinguished career here at Liverpool."

Liverpool Line Up Atletico Madrid Defender As Agger Replacement

Liverpool has lined up Uruguayan defender Diego Godin as a replacement for Daniel Agger, reports suggest.

Manchester City and Barcelona’s sustained interest in the Danish centre back has left Brendan Rodgers to consider alternative options, desperate not to be left short at the back as the new season approaches. The uncompromising Atletico Madrid defender has been linked with a move to Merseyside in the past, and has now emerged as Liverpool’s primary target should Agger leave, report.

Brendan Rodgers has been determined to hold onto Agger, as he seeks to mould his own team at Anfield following his arrival in June, but has confessed the financial realities could have the final say in the matter. Manchester City has already had bids knocked back by the Merseyside club, and Rodgers has hinted that it will take a lot more to prise the defender away, but acknowledges the need to consider the interests of the club.

"There has been contact from City, yes,” Rodgers told Sky Sports when quizzed on the issue.

"But it's nowhere near the valuation of what the player is worth and you can only consider something like that if it is going to benefit you.

“Of course you might lose a top player but if it benefits you going forward - and you can make two or three steps because of it - you may have to consider it. Is he a player I want to lose? No. He understands how I want to work and can play a real pivotal part in how I want to play,” Rodgers continued.

"But I am a realist. If someone comes in with a massive bid and it is in the best interests of the club, whether it is Daniel or any other player, you have to look at it.

"The reality is we don't the money that was here.”

Liverpool Will Need To Act Fast To Land Bologna Star

Liverpool will have to act fast to secure the signature of Gaston Ramirez as Inter Milan have entered negotiations with the Uruguayan’s representatives.

The Anfield side has been linked with a move for Ramirez since the January transfer window, and the 21-year-old has been touted for a move to Merseyside this summer after manager Brendan Rodgers revealed that he wished to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window.

As talkSPORT reported yesterday, Inter Milan have pinpointed Ramirez as their main summer transfer target after seeing Paris St Germain clinch the signing of Brazil starlet Lucas Moura.

And Inter have moved swiftly, with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that the Serie A side have entered advanced talks with the Uruguayan’s camp.

However, Inter are still trying to get Bologna to lower their £16m asking price, and are willing to offer them defender Juan or forward Samuele Longo on a season-long loan deal as part of the transfer.

Bellamy Joins Cardiff City

Cardiff City has signed forward Craig Bellamy from Liverpool on a two-year contract.

Sky Sports revealed earlier on Friday that the Bluebirds were in negotiations with the Wales international, and discussions have now come to fruition.

Bellamy officially put pen to paper on Friday after having successfully undergone a medical on Thursday.

The Championship side has not stated the transfer fee they have had to pay Liverpool.

The 33-year-old played for Cardiff in the 2010/11 season on loan from Manchester City and earlier this summer had expressed his desire to return to his hometown club.

Speaking of the transfer, the Welsh club's chief executive Alan Whiteley enthused: "I am sure that Liverpool will agree that their loss is this football club's gain and that Craig's return will be met with huge excitement and enthusiasm by all Cardiff City fans - and as the perfect backdrop to the start of the new season."

Bellamy will wear the No.39 shift at Cardiff and will join his team-mates for training next week.

Liverpool Face Hearts Test

Liverpool will take on Scottish club Hearts for a place in the group stage of the Europa League this season.

The Reds got the better of FC Gomel in the last qualifying round and will have to get past the Edinburgh club in the two-legged play-off tie that is scheduled for later this month.

Newcastle United has been drawn against Atromitos of Greece, while Scottish side Motherwell will confront Spanish outfit Levante.

Atromitos could prove to be a tough challenge for Alan Pardew's Newcastle, with the Athens-based side finishing fourth in the Greek Super League.

They were 23 points adrift of champions Olympiacos, with whom Newcastle drew 1-1 in a friendly in Portugal last month.

Italian giants Inter Milan have been paired against Vaslui, while Steve McClaren's Twente will entertain Bursaspor in a couple of the other interesting ties.

Henry Wants Fair Play Regulations

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry insists his club and others in the top flight are ready to commit to financial fair play regulations in the Premier League.

It has been reported that the Premier League is considering adopting its own set of rules to supplement the existing statutes brought in by the sport's European governing body UEFA, which are designed to ensure that clubs spend within their means and penalize those that do not.

Henry told Liverpool fans' website the Tomkins Times: "Recently I was told that half of the clubs in the top divisions within Europe are losing money and 20% are in straits of varying degrees.

"There are a lot of clubs within the league that support financial fair play. We believe the league itself may have to adopt its own rules given that club's seem to be ignoring UEFA's rules, which may be porous enough to enable clubs to say that the trend of huge losses is positive and therefore be exempt from any meaningful sanctions."

Van Gaal Admits He Was Tempted By Liverpool Job

New Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has admitted that he was attracted by the opportunity to work in the Premier League with Liverpool.

The 61-year-old was linked with both the manager's job and a role as sporting director at Anfield following the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish, but Brendan Rodgers was eventually appointed.

Van Gaal has claimed that he had always set his sights on a job with a national team but said the Reds' offer was the only one that tempted him to return to club management.

"I've only spoken with Liverpool about a job," the Dutchman told reporters. "My aim was to be manager at a national team.

"That it turned out to be Holland is the best thing that could happen. I had a lot of chances to sign with other clubs, but I rejected it.

"Only Liverpool came with a plan that I liked, because I've never worked in the Premier League and I always wanted to become champion in England."

The former Bayern Munich boss refused to play down the expectations around the Netherlands team after their poor performance at Euro 2012.

The country crashed out of the tournament at the group stage under Bert van Marwijk but Van Gaal insisted that they should still be aiming for the latter stages of major tournaments.

"Our goal in the Netherlands is very high," he continued. "I want to set the aim high because that's the only way to achieve those goals.

"We want to qualify for the World Cup and reach the semi-finals."