Kuyt inspires Reds revival
Reds come from behind to snatch all three points
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 18/10/08 5:35pm
Kuyt: Reds' match-winner
Liverpool gave notice of their title credentials with a remarkable 3-2 victory at home to Wigan.
An Amr Zaki brace had the Latics ahead at the break, but two goals from Dirk Kuyt and a first for the club from Albert Riera saw the Reds claim three vital points.
A bright opening, on a slick surface, saw Wigan take the game to Liverpool from the off, although they were handed their opener on 29 minutes through some incompetent defending from the Reds.
Jose Reina's ill-advised pass to Daniel Agger saw the centre-half dwell on the ball long enough for Zaki to nip in, steal possession, and fire low into the bottom corner.
Rafa Benitez's side then came to life and levelled matters eight minutes later as Agger, making amends for his earlier error, laid on a simple finish for Kuyt.
The Dutch striker then crashed a 20-yard effort off the crossbar before Zaki stunned Anfield with a screamer seconds before the break.
Antonio Valencia's persistence down the right saw him throw a hopeful delivery into the box, from which his Egyptian team-mate sent an acrobatic volley arching into the top corner.
Wigan then looked comfortable during the second period until Valencia's recklessness 15 minutes from time saw him pick up two yellow cards in quick succession and head for an early bath.
Five minutes later and the 10 men were broken as Riera drilled home from the edge of the box following good work by Nabil El Zhar.
The turnaround was then completed on 85 minutes as Jermaine Pennant's cross picked out Kuyt, who scuffed a volley into the roof of net.
Tackles flew in and there was pace and desire from Wigan as they enjoyed the bulk of the early possession.
Zaki gave Agger and Jamie Carragher plenty to think about, and a collision between Lee Cattermole and Steven Gerrard in midfield was uncompromising.
Reina needed to be at his best when he had to beat away a drive from Olivier Kapo after a clever pass from Wilson Palacios had put him through on the left of the box.
Liverpool had not really threatened to this point, but almost scored when Riera's ball put Robbie Keane in down the left after 28 minutes.
He was forced a yard wider than he would have liked, and saw his angled right-foot shot just clear the far post.
Then within a minute, Wigan were ahead after a terrible mistake from Agger.
Reina tapped a routine pass out to the Dane, who was far too casual. He allowed the ball to bounce away from him enough for Zaki to pounce, win the tackle, and stride into the box to beat Reina with a shot into the bottom corner.
Agger knew he had to do something after that howler and atoned after 37 minutes when he came out of defence down the left before exchanging passes with Andrea Dossena.
He then went past Cattermole in the box before crossing for Kuyt to fire in the equaliser, his first home league goal since scoring against the same opposition in April.
Kuyt then hit the crossbar and Riera's towering header cleared the top of bar.
But Zaki had the final word of the half with a stunning scissors-kick from a Valencia cross which flew past Reina for a sensational goal.
Liverpool went searching for a second equaliser straight from the restart and it took a fine save from former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland after 57 minutes to keep Wigan ahead. Pennant jumped over Keane's low cross from the left, and Kuyt's instant shot was blocked by Kirkland's left leg.
Riera almost set up Keane in the six-yard box before Gerrard lashed a 30-yard shot wide.
Liverpool were now gambling by throwing men forward, risking more danger from the robust, physical Zaki, who was more than happy to take on Carragher at every opportunity.
Gerrard side-footed a free-kick wide after a Wigan wall had failed to retreat far enough, and Valencia was booked.
Wigan were furious because they believed that Xabi Alonso's touch sideways of about a yard meant the kick had been taken.
But worse was to follow for Valencia. Soon after he was in trouble again for a foul on Alonso, and referee Alan Wiley showed a second yellow and then a red card to the Wigan man.
That inspired Liverpool to launch a new wave of attacks, and when substitute El Zhar crossed from the right after 79 minutes, Riera lashed home his first goal for the club.
Wigan deserved more, but with five minutes to go, Pennant crossed from the right and Kuyt hooked the ball down into the turf and up to clear Kirkland's stretching fingers.
|Liverpool||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|10||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||30||42|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||33|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||30||22|