Wrong Place - Wrong Time - For Harper
Srnicek: "I know for a fact that when he deputised for Shay this season Steve McClaren was watching him carefully for England. He was at a few games and he watched him on two or three occasions.
"I know that if Steve was playing every week he would be close to pulling on the England jersey. He would be challenging because there aren't too many keepers out there who are top-notch. It would be an ideal opportunity for him if he got a call-up."
Wednesday September 20th 2006
LIVERPOOL 2 NEWCASTLE UTD 0
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio,Luis Garcia, Alonso, Sissoko, Gerrard (Gonzalez 85), Bellamy,Kuyt (Crouch 82).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia, Warnock.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Harper, Carr, Ramage, Moore, Babayaro,Milner (N'Zogbia 68), Parker, Emre, Duff, Martins (Rossi 76),Ameobi (Sibierski 82).
Subs Not Used: Krul, Butt.
How SKY TV just LOVE this fixture, but have you noticed, everytime we come away from Anfield the Scousers are laughing their backs off while we always seem to be a laughing stock?
The memories of this place are so bitter. Keegan in that frightening red jacket slumping behind the advertising board as his title dreams were (just about) ended by that Stan Collymore injury time goal. Robbie Fowler doing the same thing the next season. And for the record ... Xabi Alonso scored a goal from something like 70yds to make goalkeeper Steve Harper the latest "Anfield Mug".
Harper lost his footing and was flapping about in the mud as Alonso's brilliant effort flew past him, confirming the points for Liverpool after (ex-Newcastle target) Dirk Kuyt hit his first goal for the club on 29 minutes.
Liverpool had previously lost to Everton and Chelsea and ended a scoreless run of three games. Taking pressure off Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who has been questioned by fans and players for playing captain Steven Gerrard out wide.
Most Toon fans wanted to see how Martins looked against Kuyt. Did we have the best of the deal, or was the Dutchman right to pick the Reds? But it was hard to judge because Martins hardly touched the ball due to poor service, and although Kuyt was fed constantly he missed chance after chance and should have done far better. In the end both were substituted.
Liverpool dominated the early possession and Craig Bellamy, who was booed throughout by the Toon Army, had the first opportunity of the match but Harper denied him from a tight angle.
Newcastle were on the back foot and rarely troubled Reina, and it was no surprise when Harper was beaten on 29 minutes when Xabi Alonso played in Steve Finnan and the full-back crossed for Kuyt to score.
Newcastle had a penalty claim turned down early in the second half when Shola Ameobi fell under pressure from Daniel Agger. But later the referee was quick to spot Garcia push Alonso's cross into the net with his hand and the player was booked.
Newcastle twice more claimed penalties for handball but Halsey let play go on when Celestine Babayaro clearly punched Kuyt in the face when Newcastle were defending a dead-ball kick.
Bellamy missed a glaring opportunity to add a second after 55 minutes when Gerrard pressured Peter Ramage and the Welshman raced in on Harper. But he lifted the ball over the keeper only to send it wide when he should have scored.
Garcia shot against the post with a spectacular effor that Harper didn't even see. But although the goalkeeper got away with that, minutes later came the moment that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Standing in for the injured Shay Given, the Easington-born 'keeper said "I can't wait to play at Anfield", and I'm sure the clip of Alonso's goal will go down in football history and be shown over, and over ... and over.
Charles N'Zobia was robbed in the Liverpool half, the ball was played square, and Alonso struck from well inside his own half to stun the Toon Army into silence. The Newcastle crowd watched in horror as Harper stumbled and the ball drifted over his head into the unguarded net.
Just as we had seen in the earlier 70 minutes, Newcastle had little to offer in response and Liverpool never looked troubled.