Reds romp past Anderlecht
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 01/11/05 8:12pm
Liverpool moved a step closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as they eased to a 3-0 win over Group G whipping boys Anderlecht.
The reigning champions looked certain to pick up all three points after Fernando Morientes had broken the visitors' stubborn resistance shortly before half time.
Further goals from Luis Garcia and substitute Djibril Cisse after the break sent the Anfield faithful home happy, although they must be wondering how their team can perform with such style in Europe and yet struggle so badly in The Premiership.
Anderlecht's record of 10 straight losses in the competition meant a home win was always likely, although the home side found it tough going for much of the first 45 minutes as the Belgians rarely looked to venture out of their own half.
The striking pair of Peter Crouch and Morientes, who boasted a total of just two goals between them going into the match, could not have asked for better opponents to face in their attempts to rediscover their goalscoring touch.
While Morientes managed to finally break his barren run, his partner Crouch was left to wonder when his first goal for his new employers would ever arrive.
The giant front man, making his 11th start, headed wide twice in the opening 15 minutes and also failed to direct Steven Gerrard's low cross into the net from close range.
In contrast, Morientes, who had forced Silvio Proto into a smart save from close range earlier, managed to find the net 10 minutes before the break with an accurate finish that gave Liverpool a lead their dominance deserved.
Gerrard's neat ball over the top found the ex-Real Madrid man in space on the right of the box and, with time to line up his effort, the striker drilled in a shot that went into the net off the far post.
That goal proved to be the last major contribution from Morientes as he was withdrawn soon after the interval as a precaution, while Crouch also made way for Cisse shortly after Liverpool had doubled their lead.
Steve Finnan's pacey cross from the right was glanced beyond Proto by Garcia to make it 2-0 and allow the hosts to enjoy the final half hour safe in the knowledge the three points were already in the bag.
Jose Reina was finally called into action by Christian Wilhelmsson, blocking his shot from a tight angle, but it was Liverpool who continued to pour forward, particularly after their opponents were reduced to 10 men when Nenad Jestrovic was given his marching orders.
The substitute's brief appearance ended after just five minutes when he was shown a straight red by Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen for using foul and abusive language.
Cisse made the most of the extra space in the final minutes to add a third, The Reds' 50th in the Champions League, through the goalkeeper's legs as Rafa Benitez's side extended their unbeaten run in Europe to 12 matches.
Liverpool v Anderlecht player ratings
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|10||Shots on Target||2|
|12||Shots off Target||4|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 1st Nov - Group H
Artmedia Bratis2 - 2Rangers
Inter2 - 1FC Porto
Tue 1st Nov - Group F
Olympiakos1 - 4Lyon
Rosenborg0 - 2R Madrid
Tue 1st Nov - Group E
Schalke2 - 0Fenerbahce
PSV1 - 0AC Milan
Tue 1st Nov - Group G
Liverpool3 - 0Anderlecht
Real Betis1 - 0Chelsea
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H