Super Benayoun blasts Liverpool to victory over Wolves

Super Benayoun blasts Li

By JEREMY LAST, AP
December 27, 2009 03:16
3 minute read.

 
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Israeli captain Yossi Benayoun scored a stunning goal with his left foot to ensure Liverpool took all three points from its Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Saturday. The 29-year-old midfielder fired the ball past Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann in the 70th minute of a 2-0 victory to add to Steven Gerrard's 62nd minute strike. The result provided some much needed holiday cheer for under-fire Reds manager Rafa Benitez, who has seen his side slide down the league table in recent weeks. Portsmouth manager Avraham Grant, however, saw his team stay rooted to the bottom of the standings after losing an entertaining match 1-0 at West Ham United. Wolves held Liverpool with relative ease at Anfield until Stephen Ward was sent off in the 51st for a second yellow card when he pulled down midfielder Lucas Leiva. The team from the midlands replaced striker Kevin Doyle with leftback George Elokobi to beef up their defense but fell behind when Gerrard headed a left-wing cross past Hahnemann. Benayoun then doubled his team's lead with a shot that deflected off midfielder Karl Henry, but last year's runner-up is still five points behind the Champions League qualifying spots. West Ham won for the first time in five games through a first-half penalty by Alessandro Diamante, awarded for a foul on on-loan midfielder Luis Jimenez by former West Ham player Hayden Mullins, and a late goal by Radoslav Kovac. Hull and Bolton, which drew 1-1 at Burnley, join Portsmouth in the relegation zone as the Hammers moved up to 17th. "It was a fantastic win, a massive one," West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola said. "I rated this as a six-point game. It was so important for the table and for morale." Also Saturday, Chelsea missed the chance to go seven points clear at the top of the Premier League when it was held to a 0-0 draw at Birmingham on Saturday. Chelsea created a handful of second-half chances but has now won just one of its past five Premier League matches, and that only with a late penalty against last-place Portsmouth. The Blues are now five points clear of defending champion Manchester United, which could trim the deficit to two with victory at Hull on Sunday - when third-place Arsenal hosts fourth-place Aston Villa. "It is not a good result for us," Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We are disappointed with the result but not for the performance of the team. We played well. "Birmingham tried to play the counterattack. It was a difficult game for us." Chelsea's best effort came right at the end of the first half when central defender Alex smashed a 35-meter free kick against the post. Ancelotti eventually replaced Sturridge with Salomon Kalou in the 68th minute and the Ivory Coast striker wasted a pair of chances within two minutes. He miskicked when totally unmarked and then had a shot saved by goalkeeper Joe Hart. Also Saturday, Manchester City beat Stoke 2-0 to close on fifth-place Tottenham, which drew 0-0 at Fulham. Martin Petrov and Carlos Tevez scored first-half goals to give Roberto Mancini victory in his debut as Manchester City manager, Robinho was substituted after one of his worst performances for City. Mark Schwarzer earned Fulham a point with a late double save, stopping Peter Crouch's long-range volley and blocking Jermaine Jenas's effort on the rebound, but Tottenham's Heurelho Gomes was the busier goalkeeper at Craven Cottage. The Brazilian 'keeper was forced into two stellar second-half stops by Bobby Zamora, one of three former Tottenham players in the Fulham lineup. Gomes scrambled across goal in the 63rd to palm away Zamora's downward header at the near post before making an even more acrobatic stop seven minutes later, keeping out another header with a diving save in mid-air. "In terms of clear-cut goal chances I'd say we deserved to win that," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said. "Their goalkeeper made two or three very good saves and we scuffed one or two chances." Fulham's United States international Clint Dempsey had earlier shot wide, hit a 25-meter free kick against the bar and almost set up a chance with a back-heel flick toward goal. Damien Duff almost won it for Fulham when he shot wide just two minutes from the end. Marouane Fellaini scored five minutes from the end to give Everton a 1-1 draw at Sunderland, which had led since the 17th through Darren Bent.

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