Three and easy for Reds
Liverpool came from behind in Eindhoven to beat PSV 3-1 and finish top of their Champions League group.
By Chris Harvey
Last Updated: 09/12/08 10:05pm
Liverpool came from behind in Eindhoven to beat PSV 3-1 and finish top of their UEFA Champions League group.
Rafa Benitez fielded a much-changed side, resting the likes of Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Pepe Reina, but the Reds still had far too much quality for their hosts.
After a quiet opening, the visitors fell behind to a scrappy Danko Lazovic goal as PSV made a spirited effort to grab a Uefa Cup spot.
But after Ryan Babel equalised on half-time, Liverpool stepped things up in the second period to cruise to victory.
Spanish winger Albert Riera fired in a 25-yard cracker on 68 minutes to set up the visitors' win before teenage striker David N'Gog raced on to an exquisite pass from Robbie Keane to make it three.
A goalless draw between Marseille and Atletico Madrid at Stade Velodrome was enough to send Liverpool into next week's draw for the knockout stage as winners of Group D.
Despite their much-changed side and the fact qualification for the last 16 had already been achieved for the sixth time in seven seasons, Liverpool began full of energy.
A second minute Andrea Dossena cross was headed just wide by Riera, while Babel almost created a shooting opportunity as he glided in off the right flank.
PSV's first attempt on goal came after 15 minutes when Timmy Simons let fly from 20 yards and Diego Cavalieri opted to punch away when he could have caught the effort.
Then after Nordin Amrabat ran from half way, he was muscled out of a shooting chance by Jamie Carragher in the box.
There was little urgency or pace about the game, but it was brought to life after 36 minutes when PSV took the lead.
Liverpool were furious with the goal and Riera was booked for arguing with a linesman who had failed to spot Lazovic a yard offside before he fired the ball home from a couple of yards.
A corner from the right had bounced off Dirk Marcellis straight to Lazovic, with Liverpool defenders certain he was offside before he beat Cavalieri from close range.
Four minutes later Alvaro Arbeloa and Simons were booked after a confrontation following an Arbeloa foul on Lazovic.
But with just seconds of the half remaining, Babel rose to head home a Lucas free-kick for the equaliser.
Babel, so often a peripheral figure when he gets into Liverpool's starting line-up, was showing far more intensity and when he cut in from the right after 59 minutes, he slammed a low shot into the side netting.
Lucas then got a cross in from the left and Keane, trying to get the ball onto his right foot, saw the chance slip away from him just 10 yards out.
PSV still needed the win to keep their Uefa Cup hopes alive and kept coming forward at pace. It took a fine saving header from Arbeloa to stop Amrabat reaching a far-post cross.
After 67 minutes Edison Mendez was cautioned for following through into Lucas' ankle.
But two minutes later Liverpool were ahead when Riera lashed a 30-yard shot past Andreas Isaksson.
Benitez sent on youngster Stephen Darby for Arbeloa before the re-start for his first taste of European action.
Benitez was soon to introduce another of Liverpool's local youngster when Jay Spearing replaced Riera after 75 minutes.
Two minutes later the game was virtually all over when Keane's fine ball sent N'Gog racing away from the half-way line to coolly slide home the third.
PSV sent on Reimond Manco for Mendez, while another Liverpool teenager, defender Martin Kelly, made his debut in place of Carragher as the Reds coasted to victory.
|PSV Eindhoven||Team Statistics||Liverpool|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||4|
|2||Shots off Target||10|