Christian Benteke’s big-money move from Aston Villa to Liverpool over the summer may have come with a boat load of critics on both sides, but when the big Belgian grabbed the winner with a poacher’s finish against newly promoted AFC Bournemouth on Monday night, Reds around the world forgot all about that.
“That’s why I came here – the support was massive tonight and they helped us,” he told the club’s official website following the final whistle. “Now we have six points and we want to keep going and work hard. It was important for me on my debut at Anfield to score and help the team win,” continued the 24-year old before adding with a sense of pride, “I’m very happy to have scored tonight and helped the team take three points. But the more important thing tonight was the clean sheet and the three points.”
Video courtesy of LIV-Fans
With the Anfield outfit suffering badly in front of the net last season, Benteke is already looking like a considerable upgrade to Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli — even if he cost around £12mil more than the both of them. The Reds newest Number Nine put 2 out of 3 of his shots on target and created 4-chances during his 90-minutes on the pitch and even contributed on the defensive end, pitching in with 1-clearance. Scoring the winner aside, it was his presence in the air that earned him the most plaudits though with the Belgian coming out successful in shy of 70% of his aerial duels — something that left his boss raving.
“There was one moment when the ball came into the box – which is one of the reasons we looked to bring him in – and because of his strength and power, he tried to make contact with it. It dropped and we had a chance with Coutinho to then shoot,” explained Brendan Rodgers, obviously impressed. “In my time here, that’s never really happened and the ball’s come in and maybe been cleared out, but because of his physicality and contact, he keeps the ball alive in a dangerous area of the field. That will really help and once the players get used to seeing and working with that, it’ll offer us more opportunities to score goals.”