Liverpool FC Season Review: The Top 15 Wins of 2008/09
As we all know, Liverpool have just had their best ever Premier League season.
Rafael Benitez's progression continued as Liverpool pushed Manchester United all the way to the penultimate game of the season in the race for the title.
There were, however, quite a few lows along the way. The draws that should have been wins, the FA Cup loss to Everton, and the Robbie Keane affair all immediately spring to mind.
But for all these lows, there has been a high to match. Many of these highs came from memorable victories throughout the season, and in this article I will look at the top 15 wins from Liverpool's 2008/09 season.
15. Liverpool 2-1 Middlesbrough (23/08/08)
It was only the second game of the season and already Liverpool was struggling. They had to rely on Fernando Torres to score a late winner against Sunderland in their opening game, but Middlesbrough proved even tougher opposition.
Despite Liverpool being on top for the vast majority of the game, Mido had given Middlesbrough a 70th minute lead as the clock ticked into the last five minutes.
Jamie Carragher, so often Liverpool's saviour at the other end of the pitch, tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area and saw his effort deflect off Emmanuel Pogatetz and go in.
It looked set to finish 1-1 as the match entered the fourth and final minute of stoppage time when Steven Gerrard, a more regular goal-scoring hero than Carragher, arrowed a fierce shot into the top corner.
The match finished 2-1, giving Benitez two wins in his opening two games for the first time as Liverpool manager.
14. Liverpool 3-2 Wigan (18/10/08)
Going into this match, Liverpool were still unbeaten in the league, and had won plaudits for their never-say-die attitude, which had been showcased on numerous occasions already.
This match against Wigan provided another one of those occasions.
Two goals from Wigan's in-form striker Amr Zaki with a Dirk Kuyt goal sandwiched in between had given Wigan a 2-1 lead going into the latter stages of the match.
Wigan were desperately trying to hold on after Antonio Valencia had been sent-off, but to no avail.
Albert Riera levelled the sides on the 80 minute mark with his first goal for the club.
Five minutes later, Dirk Kuyt matched Zaki's earlier spectacular effort to give Liverpool the 3-2 win with another late show.
13. Liverpool 4-0 Blackburn (11/05/09)
Liverpool came into this match on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter-Final, and the pressure was on them to respond, and to keep the pressure on Manchester United in the title race.
They did so in emphatic style.
Fernando Torres scored one of the goals of the season to give Liverpool the lead before adding a second half an hour later, a goal which led to the ridiculous "Benitez hand gesture" debate.
He wasn't signaling that it was game over. He didn't need to, everyone could see it for themselves as Liverpool put in one of the most dominating performances of the season.
Daniel Agger added another scorcher in the 83rd minute before David N'Gog rounded off the scoring from close range.
The match was the last at Anfield before the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough, and the 4-0 win was the perfect tribute, with the players giving the type of performance that the 96 would have loved to see.
12. Newcastle 1-5 Liverpool (28/12/08)
By this point, the Newcastle soap opera was in full flow. The signs of relegation were there, but the prospect of it still seemed a million miles away.
Perhaps it would have seemed a lot closer had they paid special attention to this game.
In a match just as one-sided as the Blackburn match on the previous slide, if not more so, Liverpool ran rampant at St. James' Park.
Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyypia gave Liverpool a two goal lead before David Edgar pulled one back for Newcastle on the stroke of half-time.
It was to be a rare and brief highlight.
In the second half, Babel, Gerrard, and Xabi Alonso all hit the back of the net as they created chances almost at will.
What makes this 5-1 win all the more amazing is the fact that Shay Given had an outstanding match, but still conceded five.
No doubt it was these types of performances that convinced him to jump ship to Manchester City.
11. Portsmouth 2-3 Liverpool (07/02/09)
With Liverpool still battling away in the title race and Portsmouth embroiled in a relegation battle, a win for either team would've been priceless.
Liverpool needed to pick themselves up quickly after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Everton, but for a while it looked as if it was going to be Portsmouth getting all three points.
Nugent had opened the scoring for Portsmouth shortly after the hour mark before Fabio Aurelio hammered in a free-kick from inside the box to level the sides.
This lead only lasted ten minutes, however, as Hermann Hreidarsson headed Portsmouth back in front.
As the clock ticked into the final five minutes it looked unlikely that even Liverpool could turn it around.
But turn it around they did.
On came Fernando Torres, who created one by finding Dirk Kuyt who fired his shot past David James, and scored the winner with a near post header to keep Liverpool well and truly in the title race.
10. Liverpool 1-0 Standard Liege (27/08/08)
Liverpool had been far from convincing at the start of the season, with late wins against Sunderland and Middlesbrough and a dull goalless draw with Standard Liege in the first leg of the Champions League Qualifying 3rd Round.
The second leg was no different, with the exception that it was in front of their own fans at Anfield.
In another tight affair, neither side could find a breakthrough and, over the two legs, Liverpool were fortunate to even reach extra-time.
The performances certainly didn't fill Liverpool fans full of confidence for the rest of the season.
Not for the first time in the season, however, a late goal saved Liverpool.
Dirk Kuyt struck in the 118th minute to put Liverpool in to the Champions League group stage, paving the way for some more memorable matches.
9. Manchester City 2-3 Liverpool (05/10/08)
Despite still being unbeaten at this point, Liverpool had made a far from convincing start to the season.
Too often they had relied on late goals to save them and, although this was effective, the late goals had to run out sometime.
Luckily for Liverpool, they didn't against Manchester City.
Just 20 minutes were on the clock when Stephen Ireland put Manchester City ahead, and Javier Garrido doubled that lead just before the break.
Liverpool found themselves having to overturn another deficit, a trait all too common so far in the season.
Once again, however, they did it.
Fernando Torres got one back ten minutes after half-time before Pablo Zabaleta was sent-off for Man City. Liverpool took advantage of their extra man and Torres soon struck again to make it 2-2.
Just as it looked like Liverpool wouldn't be able to complete the comeback, up popped Dirk Kuyt at the back post to give Liverpool a dramatic 3-2 lead in the 92nd minute.
8. Everton 0-2 Liverpool (27/09/08)
It's always nice beating your close neighbors, and even nicer when you do it in their backyard.
Fernando Torres bagged a quick-fire brace to give Liverpool a comfortable win in this Merseyside derby, and could well have had a five-minute hat-trick had his third not been disallowed.
Torres' first came just before the hour mark as he finished well from Robbie Keane's cross, while his second came from close range just three minutes later.
Everton's miserable day was completed with ten minutes remaining as Tim Cahill was sent-off for a tackle on Xabi Alonso.
The win gave Liverpool their best ever start to a Premier League season, a promising sign for the remainder of the season.
7. Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool (25/02/09)
When the draw was made for the first knockout stage of the Champions League, a standout fixture was Liverpool vs Real Madrid. Two Kings of Europe facing each other one on one.
Real Madrid may not have been as strong as they were a few years ago, but they were still a formidable opponent, and the Bernabeu was still an intimidating venue.
A win at the Bernabeu would be a highlight in any team's season, and Liverpool is no different.
After frustrating Madrid for large parts of the match, Liverpool finally broke the deadlock through Yossi Benayoun after 82 minutes.
His header put Liverpool in a very strong position going into the second leg at Anfield.
6. Liverpool 5-0 Aston Villa (22/03/09)
Liverpool went into this match in incredible form and continued their pursuit of the title in style at Anfield.
Aston Villa, who had just lost fourth place to Arsenal, was looking to get back on track to carry on their challenge for the final Champions League place, but they were totally outclassed.
Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool the lead within ten minutes before Albert Riera hit a stunning half-volley to double Liverpool's lead.
Gerrard made it three before half-time with a penalty, and continued in that vain in the second half.
He got another two goals, including a second from the spot, to seal his first Premier League hat-trick for Liverpool. Brad Friedel was sent-off for his foul on Torres which led to the second penalty.
The 5-0 win gave Benitez the perfect present after signing a new contract just days earlier.
5. Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea (01/02/09)
Liverpool went into this match on the back of four consecutive draws and without a league win in 2009.
Against the big four, however, Liverpool had a superb record, and they were looking to put a major dent in Chelsea's title hopes.
And, in a surprisingly dominant performance by Liverpool, they did just that with two late goals from Fernando Torres.
The match wasn't without controversy as Frank Lampard was shown a straight red card for his tackle on Xabi Alonso, but Liverpool fully deserved their win.
Once again, they had to wait for it though.
The deadlock was only broken in the 89th minute when Torres stole in at the near post to head past Petr Cech.
He sent Anfield into near hysteria with another four minutes into stoppage time to give Liverpool a great win over their rivals.
4. Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United (13/09/08)
Most Liverpool fans will highlight the games against Manchester United as the biggest of the season. It is no surprise, then, that this early season victory over United makes it into the top five.
Liverpool had made a shaky start to the season performance wise, but had still only dropped two points when they welcomed Man Utd to Anfield.
Many Liverpool fans saw this match as a test to see how serious their title challenge could be. And it didn't start well.
It took just three minutes for debutant Dmitar Berbatov to pull the ball back to Carlos Tevez who curled the ball into the back of Pepe Reina's net.
Liverpool soon settled and started to control the match, dispelling any early fears of an embarrassing defeat for Liverpool fans.
In fact, it was the United fans and players, Van Der Sar in particular, who were embarrassed.
The Dutch 'keeper dived out to try and claim a deflected shot, but ended up just palming the ball against the legs of Wes Brown, from which it deflected into the United goal.
It was to get even better for Liverpool as, with just over ten minutes left, Mascherano caught Ryan Giggs in possession and gave the ball to Ryan Babel, who fired the ball into the ground and up over the defenders on the line to give Liverpool the 2-1 win.
Manchester United's misery was compounded late on when Nemanja Vidic was sent off for an elbow on Xabi Alonso.
This victory was even more impressive considering Liverpool were without both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
3. Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid (10/03/09)
After beating Madrid 1-0 at the Bernabeu, the Spanish press labeled Benitez's side "boring", but they were eating those words two weeks later as Liverpool outclassed Real Madrid.
Fernando Torres looked like a man on a mission, and produced a scintillating performance, coming close early on before giving Liverpool the lead after 16 minutes.
Gabriel Heinze was penalized for a handball inside the box 12 minutes later, and Gerrard comfortably dispatched the spot kick.
Instead of sitting back on the considerable aggregate lead, however, Liverpool kept attacking, and were rewarded immediately after half-time when Gerrard hit his second of the match with a terrific volley.
Andrea Dossena capped off a memorable European night at Anfield with his first goal for the club to give Liverpool a 4-0 win over Real Madrid on the night, and a 5-0 win on aggregate.
2. Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool (26/10/08)
Since 2005, Liverpool and Chelsea have developed a fierce rivalry which has become worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the Liverpool and Manchester United rivalry.
In that rivalry, Chelsea always seemed to have the upper hand in the league, while Liverpool tended to edge it in Europe. That was to change here.
Going into this match, Chelsea had a magnificent unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge of 86 matches.
The message from the Chelsea fans before the match seemed to be that, if the record were to be broken, they would rather it be anyone but Liverpool.
Unfortunately for them, it was Liverpool.
Having already beaten Manchester United, Liverpool was in high spirits entering the match, and this stood them in good stead.
After just ten minutes, Xabi Alonso's shot deflected off Jose Bosingwa and past Petr Cech.
Liverpool held on for the remaining 80 minutes to record a famous victory.
1. Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (14/03/09)
Was it ever going to be anything else?
On the back of their magnificent 4-0 win against Real Madrid, Liverpool traveled to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
These matches are always great occasions, but this time, for the first time in a while, both were also gunning for the title, which made it even more special.
As with the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Liverpool found themselves a goal down relatively early on.
Reina was adjudged to have brought down Park Ji-Sung inside the box, and Cristiano Ronaldo confidently dispatched the penalty.
Liverpool only had to wait five minutes for a response, however, as Torres took advantage of a rare Nemanja Vidic mistake to level the sides, much to the delight of the traveling fans.
Liverpool had a penalty of their own just before half-time as Patrice Evra brought down Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool skipper picked himself up, dusted himself off, and fired the ball past Van Der Sar.
Mid-way through the second half, Vidic was caught out again, this time by Gerrard.
Gerrard took advantage of a poor touch by Vidic to steal the ball off him, only to be hauled down by the Serbian defender. Vidic was shown the red card for the second time in two matches against Liverpool, before Fabio Aurelio added insult to injury with a fantastic free-kick.
Andrea Dossena added the cherry on the top of a very tasty cake late on with a lovely lob over Van Der Sar to give Liverpool a 4-1 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
This is, without doubt, my favorite Liverpool win of the season! What is yours?