Football: Crouch hat-trick lifts Liverpool to victory
Saturday, March 31, 2007
|Goalscorers for Liverpool FC||Crouch (4', 35', 81'), Agger (60')|
|Goalscorers for Arsenal FC||Gallas (73')|
|Bookings (Liverpool FC)||Alonso (Yellow (1))|
|Bookings (Arsenal FC)||Diaby, Lehmann, Fabregas (Yellow (3))|
Three goals by Peter Crouch gave Liverpool a comfortable 4-1 win over rivals Arsenal on Saturday at Anfield. The two teams are in a battle for third place in the league at the moment, and both are in need of points to guarantee a Champion's League berth for next season. Liverpool's win puts them in third for the time being, but Arsenal have a game in hand still to be played out against Manchester City. Saturday's match acted as a return to the Premiership for Peter Crouch after his broken nose kept him out for several games, and he played as a lone striker with Steven Gerrard acting as close support from midfield. Arsenal meanwhile played two strikers with Emmanuel Adebayor returning from suspension being paired with Julio Baptista.
Liverpool started the game very strongly, with Peter Crouch scoring after only four minutes. A back heeled one-two between Pennant and Arbeloa release Arbeloa on the right side, and his low cross found Crouch, who slotted the ball past Jens Lehmann. Arsenal responded positively with a header by Adebayor, but the ball flew just over the crossbar and landed on top of the netting. Baptista then had a chance on goal for Arsenal after he was found open by Adebayor, but the Brazilian's shot was scuffed well wide of the net and failed to trouble Jose Reina. Arsenal would be made to pay for their missed chances minutes later as Crouch bagged his second of the afternoon when he headed in a cross from Fabio Aurelio.
Jens Lehmann was awarded a yellow card during the halftime break for allegedly spitting water at a Liverpool supporter, but the game continued without further incident. Steven Gerrard had the first of the chances in the second half, but his shot from just outside the box was directly at Lehmann. Arsenal then had their best chance through Adebayor, but he was unlucky to see his low drive cannon off the base of the post with Reina well beaten. Liverpool then increased their lead on sixty minutes when Agger directed Aurelio's curling free kick into the back of the net past a diving Lehmann. Adebayor continued to threaten Liverpool's goal however, and if not for a fingertip save from Reina, he would have pulled one back for Arsenal off a header. Arsenal would pull one back minutes later through William Gallas has he tapped home a corner from Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal put on pressure for a few minutes in an attempt to force a grand-stand finish, but it was to be Liverpool who would score next. Germain Pennant's cross into the box found Crouch, and after some good control and a flick between his legs, the tall Englishman powered his third into the back of the net, sealing the victory for Liverpool.
Liverpool now travel to Holland to take on PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, the team that dropped Arsenal out of the same competition. Arsenal meanwhile have no competitions left but the Premiership to take part in, and their next game is at home to strugglers West Ham United.
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