Liverpool 4 Toulouse 0 <i>(Liv. win 5-0 on agg)</i>: Kuyt at double to help Liverpool find their range

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It can't possibly get any easier for Liverpool wherever their travels take them in this, their 35th European campaign. Without raising a full gallop, they sidestepped the sort of qualifying-round stumbles of which they have been guilty in recent years to record their fourth victory in five games this season, with the other controversially drawn, and progress to tomorrow's draw for the Champions League Group stages.

Peter Crouch's eighth goal in 10 European starts doubled their aggregate lead in only 19 minutes, the striker then blundering with five misses of varying degrees of embarrassment.

Sami Hyypia, soldiering on despite breaking his nose on Saturday, showed him the way with the second, but only Dirk Kuyt's late double made Liverpool's 50th home win in the competition anything like as conclusive as it should have been.

"You could see the competition for places we have, with every player trying to play well," said the Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

As well as being an utterly one-sided encounter, the evening proved another poignant Merseyside occasion. It began on a highly emotional note, with the playing of Everton's Z Cars theme preceding "You'll Never Walk Alone" in tribute to Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old murdered in Croxteth last Wednesday.

Members of Rhys' family remained at pitch-side during the minute's applause, his father and elder brother in blue shirts and his mother greeted with a hug and kiss from Benitez.

The manager gave a debut on the left of midfield to Sebastian Leto and, in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, turned to another of his summer signings, Yossi Benayoun, in a predictably revamped line-up.

Liverpool's early pressure resulted in Kuyt's deep cross from the right finding Crouch stretching to steer home from close range. Crouch lashed wide from a tight angle, nodded wastefully over when Benayoun again delivered well, this time from the left, and completed a hat-trick of gaffes by floating a header off target from Alvaro Arbeloa's centre.

Thankfully for Liverpool, the next big chance fell elsewhere, with Hyypia using it to establish even more breathing space. He was picked out in a ridiculous amount of space from Benayoun's out-swinging right-wing corner and headed in at the near post.

Kuyt both nodded and drove off target and was out of luck with a powerful right-foot shot from the edge of the area that was deflected almost at source

against the bar. But there was no denying Crouch the leading role in the calamity capers. He displayed great skill to bring down a ball on his chest only to then volley high into The Kop, before scooping beyond the far post from the left.

Kuyt confirmed Liverpool's superiority when he speared home a low right-foot cross-shot when well set up in a crowded area by the substitute Ryan Babel three minutes from time. And he made it four by dinking over the keeper from a through ball by the impressive Benayoun.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Arbeloa, Hyypia, Agger (Finnan, 81), Riise; Benayoun, Mascherano, Sissoko (Lucas, 68), Leto (Babel, 75); Crouch, Kuyt. Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Torres, Alonso, Pennant, Lucas.

Toulouse (3-5-2): Douchez; Fofana, Cetto, Ilunga; Cesar, Dieuze, Emana (Felix, 76), Sirieix, Mathieu (Sissoko, 81); Gignac (Bergougnoux, 54), Elmander. Substitutes not used: Riou (gk), Jonsson, Mansare, Batlles.

Referee: W Stark (Germany)

Comments