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Great article about our freebie - in the 2 competitive games hes played so far I've been hugely impressed with him - another quality signing from our Rafa :)


Sure-footed Aurelio shows early promise

By Alan Smith



(Filed: 21/08/2006)








In pics: Premiership action

Your View: Premiership

In pics: Summer transfer moves



It might not have been the result or performance they were looking for; it certainly didn't justify their tag as potential champions, but if nothing else, Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Sheffield United on Saturday confirmed one suspicion - Rafael Benitez chose very well in signing Fabio Aurelio.


That much was clear after the Brazilian delivered one of the visitors' few impressive performances at Bramall Lane to follow up last weekend's useful cameo appearance in the Community Shield.


In a ground throbbing with Premiership fever, not once did the debut boy look fazed or unsure as he tried to make amends for his side's lacklustre start.


It's important not to undervalue that sort of gutsy contribution. Neil Warnock's newly-promoted side were never going to make life easy on a grassy pitch that had been narrowed over the summer by a full two metres.


Cue the predictions of route-one football coming up, of the kind of direct, in-your-face stuff that any foreign import finds difficult to handle.


In actual fact, that didn't transpire as United proceeded to play with plenty of skill and thought. That's not to say, though, that Aurelio and company were given time to mess about.


Dwelling on the ball was strictly out of the question for a player who has spent the last six seasons in Spain's La Liga.


Not for the first time, Benitez returned to his old club, Valencia, in the summer to strengthen an area that has often lacked punch, what with Harry Kewell labouring to find his old form.


The Spaniard, therefore, set about securing an experienced left-back who looks equally comfortable playing further forward. That's where he started in Yorkshire, just ahead of John Arne Riise, before dropping back when the Norwegian was taken off injured.


Wherever Aurelio popped up, some sure-footed play characterised his game. Boxed into a corner by United's hungry foot soldiers, he refused to panic. Neither would he shirk from the physical side.


There's an obvious tough streak to the 26 year-old, a refusal to back down when push comes to shove. In the upcoming months, that's got to be a huge advantage as he adjusts to life in England's fast lane.


Given his nationality, you would expect a certain level of technical ability, and that showed itself throughout this scuffle. When it comes to passing the ball, in fact, Benitez reckons his free transfer might be even better equipped than Xabi Alonso, which is saying something, because the Spanish midfielder has few equals in that department.


Steven Gerrard has also been raving about his new team-mate's dead ball expertise, whether it's whipping in corners or taking free-kicks.


And already, it seems, the new man is getting his way. When both stood over the ball 25 yards out on Saturday, it was Aurelio who strode up to curl a useful effort over the wall that United's goalkeeper, Paddy Kenny, did well to palm on to the crossbar.


In the second half, as Liverpool pushed for the equaliser, Aurelio did a good job in supporting another talented South American signing, the speedy Mark Gonzalez.


With Aurelio feeding Gonzalez as well as delivering some dangerous crosses himself, much of Liverpool's threat was coming from that flank.


Late in the game, the Sheffield crowd belted out their traditional hymn: "You fill up my senses....like a greasy chip butty."


The sentiments, I'm sure, would have been lost on Aurelio. No matter. As the first Brazilian to play for Liverpool, he seems to have the attitude, temperament and most definitely the ability to go down a storm.




When Rob Hulse scored the first goal for Sheffield United in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, he turned the clock back 14 years. For it was another Sheffield United striker, Brian Deane, who claimed the Premiership's first goal on Aug 15, 1992. Deane's two goals in a 2-1 win overcame Manchester United. Hulse's goal, by the way, was the 14,533rd to be scored in the Premiership.



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