Garcia hits late winner for Liverpool
Luis Garcia scored an 87th-minute winner as Liverpool beat Arsenal 1-0 in the Premiership to close the gap on second-placed Manchester United to three points.india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 17:22 IST
Luis Garcia scored an 87th-minute winner as Liverpool beat Arsenal 1-0 in the Premiership to close the gap on second-placed Manchester United to three points.
It was a win Liverpool fully deserved on the balance of play, but it would be a hard man who did not feel sympathy for Jens Lehmann, who saved a Steven Gerrard penalty and made a string of fine saves that seemed to have earned the Gunners an unlikely point.
The goal was the product of two substitutes. Dietmar Hamann's fierce drive was saved superbly by his fellow German, but, this time, luck was against him, and Garcia reacted sharpest to force the rebound over the line, consigning Arsenal to their ninth defeat of the season.
Lehmann had insisted before the game that even in their weakened state they had the quality to beat the European champions, but that was never apparent, and for much of the game, the German keeper was all that stood between Liverpool and a comfortable victory.
His best save came after 21 minutes. A quickly taken free-kick from Xabi Alonso had found Gerrard wide on the right and when he slung in a cross, Philippe Senderos, under minimal pressure from Robbie Fowler, misread the bounce, allowing the ball to loop backwards off his head.
Lehmann, diving backwards, somehow clawed it away for a corner.
Liverpool were utterly on top at that point, Gerrard and Alonso both caressing 50-yard balls to feet seemingly at will, and their only concern would have been how few clear chances their domination had created.
Harry Kewell seemed to have overhit his flick for Fernando Morientes after 31 minutes, but Poll saw illegality in the way Emmanuel Eboue shepherded the Spaniard away from the ball and awarded a penalty.
Arsenal were furious, but Lehmann again came to their rescue, diving low to his right to parry Gerrard's kick.
Eboue and Kolo Toure were both given an instant recall to Arsenal's back four after their return from African Nations duty with Cote d'Ivoire. Toure, in particular, had a fine tournament in Egypt, and he carried that form into on Tuesday night.
He was within a couple of feet of giving Arsenal an 11th-minute lead as he met Cesc Fabegas's right-wing free-kick with a firm downward header, and then made a critical impact at the other end of the pitch, nicking Kewell's cross away from Morientes as a goal seemed a formality.
Morientes's lack of goals remains a concern— he has scored just three in the Premiership for Liverpool this season— and he spurned another good chance seven minutes before half-time, heading tamely at Lehmann after being picked out by Fowler.
Meeting a Gerrard cross after 62 minutes he made far better contact, only for his header to drift a fraction wide.
First Published: Feb 15, 2006 17:22 IST