Irrepressible Riise revives Liverpool's momentum

Charlton Athletic 1 - Liverpool 2

Alan Curbishley, Charlton's manager, is nothing if not pragmatic. And after seeing his side overwhelmed by visitors set on reviving their faltering ambitions of achieving a Champions' League qualifying place, he was suitably down to earth in his assessment.

Alan Curbishley, Charlton's manager, is nothing if not pragmatic. And after seeing his side overwhelmed by visitors set on reviving their faltering ambitions of achieving a Champions' League qualifying place, he was suitably down to earth in his assessment.

"Liverpool had a lot of injuries but they put out a side like that," he said. "That's the difference between the top four clubs ­ and we know who they are: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool ­ and the rest of the Premiership. Someone might come along to upset it. It might be Everton this year. But the top four clubs are the top four clubs."

Although Charlton began this match only a matter of goal difference below Liverpool in seventh place, they finished it, effectively, in another division.

Despite falling a goal down to a 20th-minute header from Shaun Bartlett following a corner by the Anfield old boy Danny Murphy, the visitors claimed the points thanks to a 61st-minute equaliser from Fernando Morientes ­ his first goal since last month's £6.3m move from Real Madrid ­ and an equally opportunistic effort 11 minutes from time by John Arne Riise.

Liverpool might have had more, too, had their captain, Steven Gerrard, not driven a rebound against the bar after Dean Kiely had beaten out Luis Garcia's initial shot. Indeed, Morientes would have got off the mark in the first half had Kiely not produced another inspired block from his point-blank shot after Riise had run amok down the left.

It was all very dispiriting for the majority of a 27,102 sell-out crowd, the highest at The Valley in 27 years.

After three defeats in their last four Premiership matches, the Carling Cup finalists knew they had no room for manoeuvre against a team who had beaten their fourth-placed neighbours, Everton, 10 days earlier.

"Liverpool came into the game knowing they had to win it," Curbishley said. "And I think it showed in the determination with which they played. I've got no complaints ­ on this performance they looked a class outfit."

And Morientes finally emerged as the classy striker everyone knew him to be. Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez said he had spoken to his Spanish compatriot before the game about his growing impatience.

"For Fernando it was very, very important," Benitez said. "It was time for him to score. He was playing very well, and winning the ball in the air, but when you are a centre-forward and [one of] the top scorers in the Champions' League you need to score always.'

The Morientes moment arrived just after the hour, when Bryan Hughes lost the ball to Garcia in his own half and the ball was swiftly transferred to the newest Anfield arrival, who evaded a challenge before driving home a left-footed shot from the edge of the box to delight the travelling fans behind the goal.

The Liverpool supporters' joy doubled when their irrepressible ginger-haired Norwegian, Riise, won the race for Garcia's prodded pass to sweep home an angled shot from the left.

Curbishley had acknowledged on the eve of this match that February loomed as a critical month for his side's ambitions, given fixtures against their close rivals Newcastle United and Middlesbrough, not to mention an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Leicester City. His side made a huge effort, and might have earned a point if the referee Neil Barry had looked more kindly upon a reasonable penalty claim for handball against Igor Biscan in the second minute of added time. But they would not have deserved it.

As for Liverpool, Benitez is looking forward to continuing the building job around his towering captain, Gerrard. And their confidence appears to have been restored.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect