RAWK Advent Calendar 2014 #9 - Sami Hyypiä 20/3/2004

Posted by John C on December 7, 2014, 01:14:57 PM

Like socks are for Christmas, tickets for the match are for birthdays. My next door neighbour and my son share the same birthday in March so who better to accompany me to see Wolves visit Gerard Houllier’s mighty Reds on 20 March 2004. We arrived early and settled in for a goal-fest to be observed from our excellent seats half way up the centre right of the Kop.

Liverpudlian Dave jones brought his relegation threatened side which consisted of ex-Reds Paul Ince, Mark Kennedy and keeper Paul Jones who always receives a rapturous applause from the Kop for his valued loan-spell in goal for us.

Houllier fielded the same side that beat Portsmouth 3-0 in midweek, but his team had been inconsistent all season and were battling for 4th place with Newcastle and Charlton! The starting 11 were Dudek, Riise, Hyypia, Carragher, Biscan, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Murphy, Heskey, Owen:

Wolves entered this game with a goal difference of -32, the worst in the league, however neither their league position nor inclination to concede goals cheaply was reflected by their display at Anfield. Ince & Rae set about Liverpool with some fierce tackling while Henri Camara threatened us with his pace on the counter. The severe blustery conditions added to the chaos of the afternoon.

Although Liverpool dominated and pressed, they didn't have it all their own way, they played poorly which aided Wolves resilience. Both sides had chances with Owen shooting wide for the Reds and Kenny Miller hitting a 20-yarder just wide of the post which left Dudek struggling to reach.  Jody Craddock brought down Heskey for a certain penalty to be denied disgracefully by referee Rob Styles, a decision that infuriated Gerard Houllier.

Liverpool failed to improve in the second half, our build up play was scrappy trying to force ourselves on to Wolves, but we also came under pressure when Camara forced Dudek to tip a low shot round the post. On the hour, Houllier made a double substitution exchanging Heskey and Kewell for Milan Baros and El-Hadji Diouf. Baros' got involved quickly putting a low cross from the right which Owen met but touched it  wide. Wolves were on the back-foot without really being threatened by us as we’d been wasteful all afternoon. Houlliers final roll of the dice was to sub Murphy for the youth of Pongolle after 84 minutes but by now the Anfield faithful were beyond anxious. It was unthinkable, indeed unacceptable that we could drop 2 points in this game, but the clock edged rapidly to the 90th minute mark as the souls of Kopites drained of energy and became consumed by anxiety. The 4th official indicated there’d be a further 3 minutes of agony.

Then, in the 92nd minute, Liverpool won a corner at the Kop end. Screams of “COME ON” bellowed and reverberated around Anfield probably more in hope than expectation. It wasn’t our day, was it?.

The Kop took to their feet as the wind howled as loud as our encouragement.
Steven Gerrard trotted over to take the corner as Sami Hyypia strolled up and positioned himself ominously in Wolves penalty box. Many of the Wolves players gathered at the near-post so the corner-kick had to be a decent one.
The ball was whipped over untraditionally effectively by Steven Gerrard’s corner-kick standards, and if you could pray, plan or dream of anyone getting on the end of it, it would always be one person – Sami Hyypia. Despite the speed of the ball Sami rose and met it perfectly as he was hustled by no fewer than 3 Wolves players. The pace of the corner and a strong header from Sami forced the ball in to roof of the net which ripped beautifully to the delight of the crowd. I’m certain that if the net hadn’t been there the power of the header would have carried the ball up to land on my lap in my superb vantage point on the Kop. We couldn’t have had a better view of Sami’s winner.

The goal is in this compilation after 50 seconds......
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/EzqtfRwrSqI?fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/EzqtfRwrSqI?fs=1</a>

To some observers from the moment the ball left Steven’s foot to it rippling the net an hour had passed, to others it happened so quickly their astonishment nearly muted their celebrations. The enormity of what Sami had done can be measured by the scenes of arms waving, fists pumping and people jumping thunderously all over the stadium.
I’ve stood on the Kop many times, many have stood on it many times more than me, but not many will have experienced that eruption of relief. It was a different celebration to perhaps the Garcia goal against Chelsea – that was one of joy and delight, but this was a collective outburst of sheer relief, an outpour of tangible gratitude that we hadn’t squandered more points and had finally silenced the vociferous away support.

After smashing the ball in to the net for his twentieth goal in a red shirt, Hyypia’s momentum took him to the corner of the Kop by the Main Stand where he was overwhelmed by his team mates. Meanwhile, with hands on hips the Wolves players looked at each other despondent and distraught. How can a game of football be so cruel?

I’m not advocating by any means this is my favourite LFC goal – it isn’t, but Sami had lost the captaincy to Gerrard earlier that season. A decision that seemed to spur Stevie to another level of football but which did not affect Hyypia’s professionalism and commitment to the cause. He’d suffered a nasty blow to the head during the game and left the field with a swelling on his forehead. He went on to score an amazing 23 goals for the club which added to the reasons why he was one of Liverpool’s best centre-backs for a generation and is regarded as a club legend.

So, Wolves resistance had been broken and a precious and probably well-earned point had been snatched from them rewarding Liverpool with an essential 3-points to move us in to 4th place – 28 points behind leaders Arsenal and 16 points behind 3rd place Man Utd. A gap that illustrated another inconsistent and disappointing season which eventually cost the manager his job.
Nonetheless, these were 3 vital points which would contribute to us qualifying for the 2004/05 Champions League!

Liverpool                         Wolves
3   Shots On Target          5
11   Shots Off Target        3
3   Blocked Shots             2
14   Corners                    4
7   Fouls                         14
2   Offsides                     3
0   Yellow Cards               1
0   Red Cards                  0
26.75   Average age of starting 11     29.33
4th   League position after the game   19th

And this is what the greats of the club have to say about Sami….

View Comments | Post Comment