Liverpool 4 Burnley 0: Angry Yossi sets new benchmark at Anfield
14 September 2009 10:34
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Rafa Benitez could do worse than point Pepe Reina in the direction of Yossi Benayoun for an object lesson in how to let off steam without adding to Liverpool's worries.
Benayoun is doubtless as exasperated as anyone by Liverpool's deficiencies so far, but he managed to locate the release valve on his emotions in a way that spared the Spaniard any more questions about thwarted title ambitions.
Reina had suggested the Barclays Premier League crown was further away than ever, but it transpires he was doing nothing more than advising caution over looking too far ahead.
That was Benitez's interpretation, anyway, as he slipped into damage limitation mode after a thumping win over Burnley.
But there was no need to fret over Benayoun's preferred method of giving vent to his frustrations. The Liverpool midfielder made Israel coach Dror Kashtan the target of his discontent, with a display of anger that shocked his fellow countrymen.
He then returned to his adopted home to light up Anfield with a match-winning hat-trick and an assist.
Benitez could hardly have wished for anything better as Benayoun took out all his World Cup anger and disappointment on Burnley and presented an irresistible case for a regular starting place.
Sliding in: Yossi Benayoun skips over the tackle of Graham Alexander
Heads up: Dirk Kuyt clashes with Wade Elliott
He has been among the substitutes more often than he would like over the past two years, but it was making way for one that irked him in Tel Aviv just over a week ago.
Trailing 1-0 to Latvia and with his World Cup dream fading fast, the Israel captain reacted to being withdrawn early by offering the home bench a volley of abuse.
It brought him widespread condemnation and he was forced to defend himself by saying: 'I was very upset because I wanted to try to turn the game round. I didn't murder anyone, though. I was just showing my emotions.'
Benayoun retained his place against Luxembourg on Wednesday, after resolving his differences with Kashtan, and Benitez derived almost as much benefit as an Israel side who won 7-0. The Liverpool manager had challenged his 29-year-old playmaker to prove he could influence games from the start. The response was emphatic.
Having broken the deadlock in the 27th minute, he laid on a tap-in for Dirk Kuyt before wrapping up the third hat-trick of his Liverpool career in the second half.
It made it easier for Benitez to brush aside any misgivings over Reina's outburst.
'All Pepe said was it was too early to be talking about the title and that is more or less the message we've been putting forward,' insisted Benitez. 'There's no problem with him. People seem to think he has no confidence in his team, but he has plenty, as we all have.
'I was talking to Yossi about how he has always been fantastic coming off the bench and he told me he could do even more if I gave him a chance from the start. I always thought his quick feet and game intelligence could hurt opponents when they started to tire, but he has proved he can do it from the beginning.'
Benitez was delighted with his side's flexibility as, in the absence of injured Javier Mascherano, they ditched their usual formation and operated with Steven Gerrard in central midfield, Dirk Kuyt forward and Benayoun on the right.
There was no loss of effectiveness once Brian Jensen's poor positioning gave Benayoun his first goal. The Beast had a nightmare and he was at fault again by parrying Benayoun's drive straight into the path of Kuyt for the second.
Two more second-half goals added to Burnley's misery and left defender Tyrone Mears conceding: 'Our heads went down after the opener. We will have to learn. Losing by four isn't good enough.'
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina 6; Johnson 7 (Degen 64min, 7), Carragher 6, Skrtel 6, Insua 6; Benayoun 8, Gerrard 7, Lucas 7, Reina 6; Kuyt 6 (Voronin 69, 6), Torres 6 (Ngog 75, 6).
BURNLEY (4-5-1): Jensen 5; Mears 6, Carlisle 6, Bikey 6, Jordan 6; Fletcher 6, Elliott 5, McCann 5, Alexander 5 (Gudjonsson 75, 6), Blake 5 (Eagles 58, 7); Paterson 6 (Nugent 69, 6).
Booked: Jordan, Eagles.
Man of the match: Yossi Benayoun.
Referee: Lee Mason.