Captain fantastic back to his best...
Steven Gerrard helped steer Liverpool to a 4-0 victory yesterday with 2 goals in 9minutes. The final result saw Burnley relegated but it was an emphatic win for the Reds as they cling on to slim hopes of that last Champions League spot.
The shock entry of Ayala into the back four was the only unsuspected addition to the line up from Benitez. With N'Gog injured it was Kuyt who lead the line. Fellow Dutchman Ryan Babel also started and Maxi Rodriguez was reintroduced on the wing.
The first half for Liverpool was a rather nervy one, Burnley appeared to be dealing with the likes of Kuyt and Aquilani rather well. They were looking strong against the Reds.
The 45minutes portrayed a bad outlook should Liverpool continue to play like that in the second half. Despite some speculative attempts from Gerrard and co, no real chances were created. Burnley also sprung Reina into making a save in the dying minutes, possibly indicating they were becoming comfortable.
Just 2 minutes into the second half and a worrying site for Liverpool as Dirk Kuyt left the field. First thoughts are that the injury to his calf is not too bad, we just need to keep our fingers crossed. Yossi Benayoun replaced the Dutchman.
Less than five minutes later Liverpool collected their first goal. Courtesy of captain Steven Gerrard. After going on a short run and reaching the edge of the 6yard box the number 8 decided to have a pop at goal, a fortunate deflection from a Burnley player ensured the effort found its way past Jensen.
Gerrard was already looking a total contrast of himself against Atletico Madrid last week and his second goal just proved this theory even more.
9minutes later and Gerrard with the help of an assist from Aquilani scored an absolute peach.
When Maxi played a great ball to Aquilani it looked as though the Italian was about to loose the ball along with his footing. Luckily enough he still managed to get some sort of touch on it, just enough to lay it into the path of a very determined Steven Gerrard.
With precision and power his goal was as sweet as a nut. Jensen had no chance as the ball flew with pace into the right of goal. Simply spectacular.
Burnley were looking concerned when they conceded the first but after that craftsmanship from our captain it was clear they were beginning to come to terms with the almost imminent prospect of relegation.
To be fair to Burnley though, they kept on fighting, getting stuck in and giving their all for the fans.
It wasn't long though before Liverpool managed to find a third goal. Maxi Rodriguez who has had some superb games in the Red shirt of late fancied a piece of the action.
Aquilani who again provided a vital link spotted Maxi on a run down the wing and played a pass to the Argentine. Maxi went on to finish from an acute angle with another great goal for Liverpool and a deserved one for the very impressive new recruit.
As the remainder of the second half went on Liverpool were more than content but Pepe Reina was still on guard, adamant on keeping a clean sheet to help his case for the Golden Gloves at the end of the season.
We needn't of worried though, conceding was not on the agenda, getting a 4th to well and truly finish the game off was.
Ryan Babel who was assisted by Lucas Leiva, to many was in a rather questionable onside position. He kept his cool though and in a one on one situation managed to put the ball past Jensen, who perhaps should have done better.
A brilliant team performance from Liverpool and some great individual efforts. Daniel Ayala did exactly what his job description asked in defence. Aquilani showed why he should be starting more games for Liverpool as he assisted and played his way around midfield.
Steven Gerrard showed that scouse passion and fight that has been missing from his game complete with a superb second goal. Maxi Rodriguez again had a fantastic stint on the wing and also scored.
I can't think of a game in a good while where i can't actually think of any complaints. With the second leg against Atletico Madrid coming up on Thursday and then Chelsea after that it is an important week ahead for the Reds.