Liverpool FC 3, Napoli 1: Steven Gerrard magic ensures happy home debut for John W Henry
HE leapt out of his seat, punching the air in delight, completely immersing himself in his first experience of an Anfield European night. What threatened at one stage to be a rather anti-climatic home debut for John W Henry turned out to be something rather more memorable and, as he left the famous old ground, Liverpool's new owner will have realised he had witnessed something very special. Down the years, the pages of this newspaper have been filled with tributes to and eulogies about Liverpool's talismanic number eight, which makes it difficult to say something that hasn't already been said about Steven Gerrard. But perhaps the biggest compliment that you can pay him is that even after all these years, after 544 appearances, all those magnificent goals and the burgeoning honours' list, Gerrard still has the ability to take the breath away. Without him, Matchday four could easily have ended in demoralising fashion and left Liverpool with a fight on their hands to reach the knockout stages but now, thanks to 45 minutes of Gerrard operating at level others can only dream of, they are all but in the round of 32. Given that Chelsea are due at Anfield in 48 hours, Roy Hodgson would have been loathe to use Gerrard against Napoli but, in some ways, all those who turned up in inclement conditions should be thankful that the manager pulled out the ace in his pack. Gerrard, quite simply, made an evening that could have fizzled out like a damp squib go with a bang and the ovation he was afforded at the final whistle reflected that; deep admiration and appreciation were the underlying tones behind the Kop's chant for him. More than that, Gerrard's efforts keep the momentum behind the sequence Liverpool are carefully piecing together and has provided a huge shot in the arm ahead of what could be a hugely significant showdown with the league leaders.
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