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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Wigan 0-1 Liverpool
By Pranav Soneji

Yossi Benayoun celebrates scoring at the JJB Stadium
Benayoun scored his first league goal for Liverpool
A brilliant individual goal from substitute Yossi Benayoun gave Liverpool a hard-earned victory against Wigan at the JJB Stadium.

The Israeli latched onto a through ball from Jermaine Pennant and dribbled past Titus Bramble before finding the net from 10 yards in the 75th minute.

Striker Fernando Torres was guilty of wasting good chances for the Reds.

Wigan should have levelled the score in stoppage time but striker Julius Aghahowa missed a close-range header.

Rafael Benitez's team were made to work for their three points by a resilient second-half resurgence from Wigan.

Torres, fresh from his Carling Cup hat-trick heroics, kept his place up front, but Rafael Benitez continued his with his rotation policy.

Benitez made seven changes to the side that beat Reading in midweek, taking his season's tally of changes to an astonishing 57 from just 11 games.


Wigan, who have yet to score a league goal against Liverpool, gave Nigerian international striker Aghahowa his first start up front in place of the injured Antoine Sibierski.

Despite pressing Chris Kirkland into action in the first minute with a stinging 30-yard drive from Steven Gerrard, Liverpool failed to capitalise on their dominance in the first half.

Torres was guilty of wasting the majority of the opportunities - the Spaniard could have bagged his second hat-trick of the week, but his prowess in front of goal had deserted him.

His first chance fell in the 16th minute when Dirk Kuyt threaded a pinpoint through-ball, but the striker was denied by a fine sprawling save from Kirkland.

Torres' most painful miss came in the 32nd minute when Fabio Aurelio's cross found the striker unmarked in the box.

The striker had time to control the ball, but instead opted for the spectacular with an overhead kick, firing wide of Kirkland's left-hand post.

Devoid of any attacking impetus in the first 45 minutes, Wigan's approach at the beginning of the second half was in complete contrast.

They should have taken the lead when Marcus Bent fired past a static Pepe Reina, who had stopped after a late offside flag.

However replays indicated strike partner Aghahowa had been wrongly adjudged offside even though he was returning onside and not interfering with play.

Jason Koumas began to exert more influence in midfield and the Wales international forced Reina into his first save of the game in the 51st minute.

Liverpool eventually broke free of their second half shackles and Wigan had Josip Skoko to thank when he threw himself at a Dirk Kuyt shot from 12 yards with Kirkland committed.

A typically robust Gerrard shot from distance on 68 minutes had the goalkeeper beaten but, agonisingly, the ball rolled past the post.

It took a moment of individual brilliance from Benayoun to break the deadlock 15 minutes from full time.

The midfielder created space with a wonderful first touch from Pennant's ball and evaded Bramble's challenge on the edge of the box before firing past the onrushing Kirkland.

The goal rocked Wigan but they continued to press forward in search of an equaliser, and should have had one in the dying moments.

Koumas' cross found Aghahowa three yards from goal, but the striker somehow managed to head wide with an open goal to aim at.

  • Wigan manager Chris Hutchings on Julius Aghahowa's stoppage time miss:

    "I don't know how it didn't go in, so in the end while I am pleased with the performance and the lads were great, I am very disappointed with the result.

    "I thought the way we defended and how we passed the ball around was pleasing. That's how we are trying to do things now.

    "We can take positives out of the game with the way they changed things in order to hold on to their three points, and all credit to them for doing that."

  • Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on Yossi Benayoun's introduction:

    "When you are trying to find a solution, you need players of creativity and quality, and Yossi gives us that. I am not saying he will start every game on the bench, it's just that in this instance I wanted to do different things.

    "Yossi played the other night (in the Carling Cup against Reading) and I needed fresh legs, so I started with (Jermaine) Pennant.

    "Because we didn't we needed to bring on players with different skills and Yossi was good, it was perfect."

    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Kilbane, Scharner (Taylor 82), Skoko, Brown, Koumas, Aghahowa, Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Granqvist, Hall, Olembe.

    Booked: Brown, Melchiot.

    Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Aurelio (Benayoun 56), Pennant (Voronin 82), Gerrard, Mascherano, Riise, Torres (Sissoko 89), Kuyt.
    Subs Not Used: Itandje, Finnan.

    Booked: Mascherano.

    Goals: Benayoun 75.

    Att: 24,311.

    Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

    Saturday's football photos
    29 Sep 07 |  Football


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