Premier League - Liverpool survive Wigan scare

Dirk Kuyt scored twice as Liverpool came from behind to snatch a 3-2 Premier League win against 10-man Wigan at Anfield.

Dirk Kuyt v Wigan, FOOTBALL - 0
The Dutchman struck the winner five minutes from time, shortly after Albert Riera equalised with his first goal for the club.

Wigan were leading 2-1 when influential midfielder Antonio Valencia saw red for a second bookable offence, having been given the lead by a superb first-half double from Amr Zaki.

Four times this season Liverpool have trailed late on but gone on to collect maximum points.

Having beaten Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Manchester City the hard way, Rafa Benitez's side once again dug deep to claim a win that had looked unlikely when Zaki sent the visitors into half-time with a 2-1 lead.

With two more goals, the Egyptian increased his tally to seven from his first eight Premier League games.

Zaki's superb start to the season has drawn excited comparisons with Alan Shearer from Wigan chairman Dave Whelan.

This bold assertion did not seem to outlandish after the 25-year-old's first-half double that showcased both his predatory instinct and his capacity for the spectacular.

First he dispossessed a day-dreaming Daniel Agger and slotted past Jose Reina then, with almost the last kick of the first half, volleyed spectacularly in from the edge of the box.

Unlike England strikers Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, Zaki proved he does not need Emile Heskey to get the best out of him.

Heskey did not feature following his international exertions, yet Zaki looked comfortable playing as a lone striker with Daniel De Ridder behind him.

Midway through the first half, Olivier Kapo tested Reina with a powerful low drive from the left side. Minutes later at the other end, Robbie Keane had a similar position after a perceptive through-ball from Riera, but opened his body and sent his shot wide of the far post.

Agger's aberration came a minute before the half-hour, when Reina passed to him at the edge of the box.

The Dane took a heavy touch, then compounded his error by failing to react quickly enough. By the time he attempted to nick the ball past Zaki, the striker was already on him, snatching possession and finishing low into the right corner past Reina.

Agger did not have to wait long to atone for his mistake. On 37 minutes he went on a marauding run down the left and cut a low ball back to Kuyt whose low shot squeezed past Chris Kirkland.

Kuyt then hit the crossbar before Zaki, with first-half stoppage time ticking down, unleashed his second party piece.

Valencia clipped a cross from the right that appeared to be too far behind him, but an acrobatic scissor kick sent the ball arrowing past Reina into the far corner.

Liverpool have become accustomed to adversity and did not panic, gradually applying more pressure as Wigan were forced back into their own final third.

Xabi Alonso and Kuyt went close before Steven Gerrard saw a deflected free-kick hit the outside of the post.

In the lead-up to that set-piece, Valencia was booked for encroachment, an offence that gained huge significance on 74 minutes when the Ecuadorean picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Alonso.

Almost immediately, Wigan caved in. Nabil El Zhar teed up Riera in the 79th minute, and the Spaniard sent a low, right-foot shot into the corner of the net.

The Liverpool tide became irresistible, but there was more than a slice of luck about the winner.

Kuyt attempted a Zaki-esque volley from a Jermaine Pennant cross. He miscued it and sent the ball into the ground, only to see it bounce up and over the sprawling Kirkland, who should have done better.

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