Benayoun emerges from the shadows

ONE cannot help feel that the scout from Debrecen had a wasted journey.

Having witnessed Yossi Benayoun destroy Burnley, he will have reported back to his employers about the dazzling performance of the Israel international ahead of the visit of the Hungarian champions to Anfield on Wednesday.

Yet Benayoun may play no part. With Javier Mascherano receiving treatment for a pelvis injury he suffered on international duty with Argentina, Rafael Benitez was forced to shuffle his pack against Burnley which allowed him to promote Benayoun from the bench.

However with Mascherano expected to have recovered in time for Liverpool’s opening Champions League group game, Benayoun could find himself be back to his familiar role of warming the bench.

It is an unfortunate scenario but one which Benayoun reluctantly accepts.

“You need to accept that sometimes you will have to sit on the bench and make sure you take the chance when you are on the pitch,” hat-trick hero Benayoun said.

“Everyone wants to play all the time – I don’t know anyone who is happy to sit on the bench. But at Liverpool that can happen because there are so many good players.”

No one can accuse Benayoun of not taking his chance to impress in the wake of Mascherano’s absence.

Liverpool were going nowhere fast against Owen Coyle’s Premier League newcomers before Benayoun broke the deadlock with a terrific finish.

Yet it was Dirk Kuyt who scored the crucial second goal, shortly before half time, which allowed Liverpool, who started nervously, to relax and for Benayoun to complete his hat-trick with two second half goals.

Benayoun’s hat-trick allowed Liverpool to make up for their stuttering start and with games against West Ham and Hull on the horizon, Benitez’s team have the chance to start against Chelsea on October 4, Liverpool’s first test against the big four, on the back of a four-match winning run.

Burnley have not suffered a heavier defeat at this level since Wolverhampton Wanderers triumphed 5-1 at Turf Moor in November 1975.

“Everyone else will write us off after being beaten by Liverpool 4-0 and 3-0 at Chelsea – they will think we are about to go down again,” Clarets defender Tyrone Mears said. “But we can prove people wrong. We are going to be OK this season. We are disappointed but the manager will be quickly building us up again and he’ll have us buzzing and positive.”

MAN OF THE MATCH: Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool): The best player on the pitch by far. Liverpool were going nowhere fast before he broke the deadlock with a rare moment of quality. Also involved in the second goal before going on to complete a thoroughly deserved hat-trick.

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire) 7: Allowed the game to flow and only felt the need to brandish two yellow cards – both to Burnley players.

MATCH RATING: **** This will go down as the Yossi Benayoun show. He awoke Liverpool from their sluggish start before dominating the proceedings. Liverpool will certainly face tougher opposition at home this season.


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