On a night of the ghost of managers past an old ghost undid the Latics as once again defensive frailties led to their demise against a Liverpool side that were there for the taking.
Shankly night at Anfield was a bitterly cold one and not wanting to hang about Liverpool came out of the blocks the fastest with Benayoun creating worries down the Latics left and it was from this side that the first goal came on nine minutes.
Liverpool full back Fabio Aurelio was allowed time to swing over a cross and plumped it on the Latics six yard box where David Ngog out jumped an advancing Kirkland who`s tame effort to punch the ball showed the keeper appears to be anxious about protecting his back and for the second time in two games the Latics conceded through poor defensive play.
Going behind seemed to inject some urgency into Martinez` men and almost immediately they should have been level only for an unmarked Paul Scharner steaming in at the far post to head straight into the arms of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina
Both sides had chances before the half ran out and Kirkland produced a great save to keep a Kuyt effort out just before the interval.
Jason Scotland was thrown into the mix just before the hour and he should have put the Latics on level terms when following a challenge on Reina by Scharner the ball fell to him six yards out with the goal at his mercy, instead of calmly rolling the ball over the line he smashed it left footed onto the crossbar and over, when will he ever score?
The Latics were made to pay for this miss, Fernando Torres was introduced to wild adulation from the home supporters and his love affair with Liverpool continued as he caught out a static defence with a break-away goal, rounding Kirkland and being allowed two stabs to flick the ball home following good cover back by Bramble who cleared the first effort but couldn`t manage to get Torres` second attempt away.
Charles N`Zogbia hit a splendid solo goal for the Latics two minutes into stoppage time, he went past four Liverpool defenders before hitting a lovely shot into the bottom corner form 18 yards, too little too late, Liverpool were there for the taking and a combination of poor defending and equally poor finishing let us down again.
The Bolton game now is very much a must win one.
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