Liverpool 2 Newcastle United 0: Alonso hits 70-yard wonder goal to thrill Reds
Liverpool's board of directors meet tomorrow to consider if any of the investment proposals on their polished table could finance a new £180m stadium on Stanley Park. At the top of their agenda, however, will be an appraisal of the astonishing goal that graced their existing home last night from the immaculate right foot of Xabi Alonso.
The Spanish international produced one of the most audacious goals in Anfield's rich 115-year history to give Liverpool a valuable first victory in three League games and to leave Newcastle United's stand-in goalkeeper, Steve Harper, mortified at being beaten from more than 60 yards.
Collecting the ball deep inside his own half Alonso, the architect of Dirk Kuyt's first goal for Liverpool in the 29th minute, glanced up and struck a sublime shot over the tumbling Harper to lift Rafael Benitez's team to ninth place on the Premiership table and increase his personal collection of stunning goals.
"I was thinking of telling him off when he didn't pass to Steven Gerrard who had made a good run forward," admitted the Liverpool manager, who saw Alonso deliver a similar feat in the FA Cup at Luton in January. "I was really disappointed in him but then, afterwards, I had to say congratulations," Benitez added. "He practises it all the time."
"A hell of a shot," conceded the beaten manager Glenn Roeder, who, like his Spanish counterpart, also insisted that he did not see an incident in the Anfield tunnel afterwards when the former Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy was involved in a fracas with Stephen Carr. "I don't blame Steve for what happened," Roeder said of Alonso's goal. "He is distraught and thinks he let the lads down, but the truth is if he hadn't have fallen it would have been a decent shot straight into his arms."
Not that it would have altered the course of the points anyway. Liverpool, ahead from the 29th minute when Alonso threaded a fine pass through to Steve Finnan, who crossed for Kuyt to slide home the 150th goal of his professional career, dominated the chances and should have been out of sight before their midfielder's memorable moment.
Though the referee Mark Halsey rejected two strong penalty claims from Newcastle at the start of the second half, both involving Shola Ameobi who was felled by Daniel Agger and then saw a goalbound shot saved by the hand of Jamie Carragher, the home side squandered several glorious openings - notably from Bellamy and Kuyt - saw a volley from Luis Garcia strike the inside of the post and had their own penalty appeal dismissed when Celestine Babayaro handled on his goal-line.
The Newcastle full-back also shoved Kuyt in the face, an incident also missed by Halsey, in a game littered with personal spats throughout. Bellamy, desperate to impress against the club he left so bitterly 18 months ago, was the target for a bottle of water thrown from the Newcastle section and is believed to have been at the centre of a fracas afterwards. Fortunately it was Alonso, taking aim from 60 yards, that left the finest impression last night.
"I don't think fans realise the technique or how difficult striking a ball like that is," Roeder said. "It was a brilliant bit of skill."
Benitez said: "We showed that we can play good football, we can create chances and score some goals. Maybe we deserved one or two more goals but at the end of the day we got one very good score and one amazing goal.
"I am pleased with the number of chances we created and defensively it was another clean sheet as well. It is important to have clean sheets, like last season. Clean sheets are not just for defenders they are for the team."
Goal: Kuyt (27) 1-0.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio; Gerrard (Gonzalez, 86), Sissoko, Alonso, Garcia; Bellamy, Kuyt (Crouch, 82). Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Hyypia, Warnock.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Carr, Moore, Ramage, Babayaro; Milner (N'Zogbia, 68), Parker, Emre, Duff; Martins (Rossi, 77), Ameobi (Sibierski, 82). Substitutes not used: Butt, Krul (gk).
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Booked: Liverpool Garcia; Newcastle Moore.
Man of the match: Alonso.
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