Crucial goal lifts Kuyt's hopes for deliverance

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The Independent Online

On Tuesday morning, Dirk Kuyt will have driven into Liverpool's Melwood training ground past the graff-iti that named him as one of the three players who, according to the militants, should follow manager Rafael Benitez out the club. By 9.30pm he had scored only his ninth goal all season against Internazionale in another one of those unforgettable European nights at Anfield.

Kuyt's goal against the Italian club was a rare moment of release in a season that until now he would perhaps have preferred to forget. Forced to play second fiddle to Fernando Torres, Kuyt has found that in Benitez's team there is room for just one goalscorer.

Just as Peter Crouch has found himself out of favour with Liverpool's manager, so Kuyt has been shifted out to the wing, or adapted into a midfielder, as Benitez builds his attack around Torres. Kuyt's 85th-minute goal against Inter came at the end of another individual performance that had, in reality, few other redeeming factors.

"I have put a difficult period behind me and I only want to look forward now," Kuyt said. "The main thing was to win, but there's still one game left. We lost to Barnsley when everyone expected us to beat them easily. Then tonight you saw a totally different team, but with many of the same players. I suppose that's the magic of football.

"It was a great moment for me when I scored. It was so important. It's funny because I said to Stevie [Gerrard] maybe now we just need to keep the ball and get a clean sheet. He said: 'No, we want another goal,' and he was right, he got another, and that made it a great result."

For the "difficult period" read the 13 games which Kuyt went without a goal before he scored against Barnsley in the FA Cup defeat on Saturday. The work ethic that impressed Anfield in Kuyt's first season has not been enough to sustain him second time around. Yet the Champions League is proving a convenient distraction from the deeper-rooted problems of Liverpool's season.

"Everyone I've spoken to, especially the Dutch players in Europe, know how good Liverpool can be even if we've not shown it maybe in the last couple of games," Kuyt said. "If we can go a long way in this competition like last year, it would make up for the disappointments so far this season."

Jamie Carragher conceded that a full-strength Liverpool team had made a major impact. "There is something about us that we are always confident in Europe," he said. "We fielded our main players as well, which makes a difference, and the sending off did help us. But even when they went to 10 men, Inter impressed me so I certainly expect a very different game over there.

"Stevie [Gerrard] is one of the best players in the world. In the Champions League the top teams come and you see some of the names they've got. But he's the one who does the decisive thing in the end. There are a lot of world class players in the big teams, but Stevie stole the show again."

Italian angle: View From Italy

This is Anfield, but this is not Inter... Mancini's team started badly and ended worse. Alberto Cerruti, Gazzetta dello Sport

Materazzi should have got hold of a pair of angel wings and put them on before descending into the Anfield inferno... He is... a pre-judged individual who cannot free himself from the infamy that accompanies him. Candido Cannavo, Gazzetta dello Sport

Inter lost themselves in the Anfield atmosphere. They didn't play, there wasn't a game, there wasn't a shot ... A frankly embarrassing effort. Mario Sconcerti, Corriere della Sera

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