Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) saw another defence today as newly crowned champions Liverpool took on Aston Villa at Anfield.
Liverpool came into this match in a rich vein of form after beating Real Madrid 4-0 followed by an emphatic 4-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford to claim the UWCC title. United's loss yesterday, coupled with that of Chelsea, piled the pressure on Liverpool to get a result today.
Aston Villa stood in their way, but they had been going through a tough patch of form recently with seven games without a win in all competitions. This had seen them drop out of the top four and the Champions League qualification spots.
True to the form book, it was Liverpool who triumphed today, and in some style. They continued their magnificent scoring form to hit five past Villa without reply.
The rout was started early on as Dirk Kuyt was the first to react to Xabi Alonso's header striking the crossbar, completing a routine finish past former Liverpool man Brad Friedel.
Villa were stunned by the early goal, but soon found their feet, with John Carew in particular proving to be a handful. It was Pepe Reina who kept Liverpool ahead, and then the Liverpool keeper was instrumental in extending the lead.
His long ball up-field bounced past the defenders in a move eerily reminiscent of Liverpool's fourth against Manchester United. Instead of lobbing the keeper as Andrea Dossena did, however, Albert Riera smashed it past Friedel to put Liverpool 2-0 up.
Just five or so minutes later, Nigel Reo-Coker brought Riera down inside the box to give Liverpool a penalty, which Steven Gerrard duly dispatched for the second time in as many games.
Liverpool started the second half as they finished the first, with Steven Gerrard finding the net. This time it was from a precise free-kick from 25-yards out, almost passing the ball past Friedel and into the net.
They further increased their goal difference just after the hour mark as Brad Friedel brought down Fernando Torres inside the box. Despite the keeper not being able to get out of the way, Martin Atkinson showed him the red card, and Gerrard scored his second penalty of the match, and completed his first ever Premier League hat-trick.
The result means Liverpool move just one point behind Manchester United, with a superior goal difference thanks to nine goals in two games, with just one conceded.
Quite a few UWCC records were broken or equalled in today's match. Liverpool became the first club to defend the title in two different spells, while Steven Gerrard's hat-trick put him level with Frank Lampard and Darren Bent as the top scorers in UWCC history, each having scored five times.
Four of Gerrard's goals have come from the penalty spot, more than any other player, and it is the first time in UWCC history that two penalties have been scored in a match. Gerrard also became only the second player to have scored a hat-trick in a UWCC match, joining Darren Bent in that respect.
The 5-0 scoreline is the joint highest in UWCC history, equalling Chelsea win against Middlesborough on October 18 of last year.
Aston Villa gained some unwanted records as they became the first team to lose three UWCC title matches as challengers. They are now officially the least successful side in UWCC history, having lost all three of the matches they have competed in.
Brad Friedel also became only the fifth player to be sent-off, and the first goalkeeper.
Of the 72 voters in the poll, 86.1 percent of people said that Villa wouldn't be able to beat Liverpool so well done to the vast majority!
Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (Liverpool become new champions)
Liverpool 5-0 Aston Villa
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Due to the international break, Liverpool's next title match is on Saturday, April 4 as they travel to Manchester United's conquerors and former champions Fulham. Can Fulham once again become the best side in the world?!
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