GERRARD SHOWS HIS CLASS
Steven Gerrard blasted his way back onto the European centre stage with the sort of performance that makes him a "special player" even for hard-to-please boss Rafael Benitez.
Two goals, one a twice-taken penalty, got Liverpool off to the perfect start to their Champions League group stage campaign in Marseille.
The 2-1 victory in the Stade Velodrome saw skipper Gerrard finally shrug off the months of worry and pain he has endured from a nagging groin problem.
This has hardly been the perfect start, personally, to the campaign for Gerrard and he is still nowhere near peak fitness.
It has been a tough few months for the 28-year-old, who knew he had a groin problem even at the end of last season.
It flared up during the summer, disrupting his pre-season work, and forced him out of the European qualifier away to Standard Liege.
And it meant the loss of his England place when an operation was required after his cracking winner against Middlesbrough.
Then Gerrard managed just 23 minutes as a late substitute in the win over Manchester United before surviving for an hour in Marseille.
It is not how he would have wanted to start the campaign with unbeaten Liverpool, but he seems back on track now having reached 99 career goals for the club in the south of France.
Benitez explained: "The game was another example of the influence Gerrard has on our team, he is so special.
"To score twice like that, and with a really good first goal, when you have only just recovered from an operation shows just how important he is to us.
"But it was not just Steven. It was a very sound team performance, everyone worked so hard, and that is what pleased me most.
"But he showed that he can change games on his own. He can improve, and he knows it, following the operation.
"But his impact was the most positive thing from the game. His first goal was amazing, a fantastic effort and it altered the course of the match.
"You may not see many such goals in 10 years it was that good."
Benitez now knows victory in their next group D match, at home to PSV Eindhoven on October 1, will send Liverpool to Atletico Madrid three weeks later with their destiny in their own hands.
The Spaniard added: "If we can win at home against PSV it will be good for our confidence. If we win that, maybe the next match away to Madrid will be the key to the group for us."
Gerrard was modest about the quality of his first-half equaliser but his colleagues saw things differently.
Goalkeeper Jose Reina said: "It was a great goal, but that is what Steven can do for us."
Winger Ryan Babel added: "It is always good to have Steven in the side because he can make things happen. He is a special player, a great help to us all having him around.
"We are a team, not just about one player. But you have to accept how important he is to Liverpool because of the performance and the goals he gets.
"Steven is very important in every game, he is fantastic to have in the team.
"It is clear to everybody just how important it is to have him in our side.
"In Europe it is Eindhoven next at home for us, and being Dutch I know a good deal about them and they could be a lot more difficult than people expect.
"But if we can win that we will be really on the way to qualifying for the next stage.
"We remember how badly we started the Champions League last season. We knew that could not be allowed to happen again.
"So to win in Marseille against a difficult side, and that following our win over Manchester United, has given us all plenty of confidence.
"We have not lost this season and our confidence is improving with every game.
"We have got some new players, and we are building a different team. When everyone starts to understand exactly what is required of them, we will be capable of going on a very long unbeaten run.
"That will improve our chances of the league and in Europe. It is slowly coming together, bit by bit."
Benitez added: "It was important to get the three points in a very difficult stadium to play in, against a very good side.
"Throughout the team you could see how well we have started the season and how together everyone is. There is character, confidence and a strong mentality already.
"But we are aware we have only just started. There is much to do, much to improve, but it has been a very good week for us.
You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!
our captain marvel perform best in europe!
Dirk Kuyt... england or europe he also can assist.. that's why i support him!
Stevie G has scored 99 goals in all competitions. Hopefully kuyt will assist him for his 100th goal this weekend
6 of the best Stevie G's goals in CL
CL results thats interesting...
manure 0-0 villareal,manure almost lost when a villareal player backheeled & hit the upright...
kiev 1-1 arse...arse score last grasp goal...
cheers to everybody...