Liverpool crush Charlton in English Premier League
Liverpool's recent resurgence gathered pace as they produced a ruthless display to defeat Charlton 3-0.india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 20:58 IST
Liverpool's recent resurgence gathered pace as they produced a ruthless display to defeat Charlton 3-0 at The Valley on Saturday.
Rafa Benitez's side were far too strong for struggling Charlton and Xabi Alonso's early penalty was followed by second half strikes from Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard to complete a convincing win.
Liverpool are unbeaten in the league since their defeat at Arsenal last month, winning four of their last five matches and keeping six consecutive clean sheets to give renewed hope of a top four finish in the Premiership.
Charlton have won just once in six matches since Les Reed replaced Iain Dowie as head coach and the London club, mired in the relegation zone, face a long struggle to beat the drop.
Reed was without on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson as Premiership rules state players cannot feature against the club that has loaned them out.
Thomas Myhre came in for Carson but he was picking the ball out of his net after just three minutes after a blunder by former Liverpool defender Djimi Traore.
Charlton left-back Traore, who spent seven years at Anfield, lunged at a cross and completely missed the ball before his foot crunched into Jermaine Pennant's head.
It was as clear a penalty as you will ever see and Alonso calmly stroked the spot-kick past Myhre to give Liverpool the ideal start.
Liverpool showed no signs of sitting on their lead and it took a superb goal-line clearance from Luke Young to deny Bellamy after the Welsh striker had dribbled around Myhre.
Traore went some way to making up for his earlier mistake in the 17th minute when he followed Young's example by alertly hacking Pennant's shot off the line.
Liverpool were in complete control but Charlton almost snatched an equaliser their play would hardly have deserved when Jose Reina spilled Andy Reid's shot and the ball fell perfectly for Hermann Hreidarsson. But, despite having an empty goal to aim at, the Charlton defender lashed his shot over the crossbar.
Mark Gonzalez's powerful header from Bellamy's cross forced Myhre to make a fine save just before half-time.
Norwegian keeper Myhre made an even better stop three minutes after the interval as he tipped Alonso's curling strike over the bar.
Bellamy and Kuyt combined to carve open the Charlton defence with a swift exchange of passes midway through the second half, but the Dutch striker's shot cannoned to safety off a post.
Darren Ambrose struck a blistering volley that skimmed Reina's crossbar in the 75th minute as Charlton found their stride.
Darren Bent went close with a snap-shot from 10 yards moments later but Liverpool raised their tempo and sealed the win in the 82nd minute.
Bellamy accelerated away from Souleymane Diawara and gave Myhre no chance with a stunning finish from an acute angle.
Gerrard rubbed salt into Charlton's wounds in the 89th minute when surged onto Peter Crouch's header and curled a shot past Myhre.