Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Liverpool thump struggling Portsmouth

Sports - Football - Premier League - Match Report

Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth

Liverpool recorded their seventh consecutive home win on their 118th anniversary against rock-bottom Portsmouth.

The win takes the Reds up to fifth, one point ahead of Manchester City and one behind Tottenham, who both have games in hand, two and one respectively, in the race for the fourth and last Champions League qualification place.

Rafa's usual favourites Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva started on the bench for Liverpool and were not much missed on the night.

Liverpool looked sloppy and shaky again in the opening 20 minutes though, wasting good build-ups and chances high or wide.

However, once broken, Portsmouth caved in conceding three goals in under six minutes.

The first breakthrough came from an error by Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown.

He could just watch and curse himself after he let Steven Gerrard chase down Ricardo Rocha's cross and block the goalkeeper's clearance kick for it to ricochet to Maxi Rodriguez, his cross serving Fernando Torres an easy tap-in to make it 1-0.

Torres was involved in the next two goals, too, slipping and clipping the ball over to Ryan Babel and Alberto Aquilani respectively, for them to make no mistake of netting both chances.

Thanks to Pompey's first blooper, Liverpool got up and going and could go into the break much more confident.

The fans at the ground reflected that change of mood, too, with a subdued and unusually quiet atmosphere taken over by cheers, chants and songs - the more common way and sound of things at Anfield.

The second half continued with Liverpool dominating possession and chances.

Torres to elegantly cornered his way through Pompey's back line to make it four and seal the win for the Reds 13 minutes from time.

Portsmouth did get a consolation goal with just a couple of minutes remaining - Nadir Belhadj taking advantage of some defensive confusion by Liverpool to put the ball past Pepe Reina with ease.

This is a crucial win for Liverpool.

They will be hoping they can take the gained confidence into their next match against Lille, where they have to turn around a one-goal deficit to make it into the last quarter finals.

The fans made it clear on Monday night: They are not happy with the current situation and state of things and want change - off the field especially.

Liverpool Reina; Johnson (Kelly 70), Carragher, Agger, Insua; Aquilani, Mascherano, Rodriguez, Gerrard (Benayoun 75), Babel; Torres (Ngog 80). Subs not used Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Kuyt, Lucas.

Portsmouth Ashdown; Finnan, Wilson, Rocha, Hreidarsson (Abeyie 76); Brown, Bouba Diop (Mokoena 64), O'Hara (Webber 85), Dindane; Piquionne, Belhadj. Bookings Dindane 78, Mokoena 78. Subs not used Mullins, Hughes, Kanu.

1st half stats:
Attempts: 10-4
On target: 3-1
Offsides: 1-1
Corners: 4-2
Free kicks: 7-3

2nd half stats:
Attempts: 10-2
On target: 6-2
Offsides: 0-1
Corners: 3-2
Free kicks: 9-5

Sky Sports Stats:
Possession: 64.5%-35.5% (BBC: 58%-42%)
Passing Success: 86.6%-74.4%
Tackles/Success: 21/61.9%-17./88.2%
Territorial Advantage: 55.9%-44.1%

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Fernando Torres

Friday, 12 March 2010

Lille take one-goal advantage into second leg

Sports - Football - Europa League Last 16 - 1st leg

Lille 1-0 Liverpool

Liverpool's performance at the LOSC Lillie Metropole was summarised in two words by the commentator: Scrappy and meaningless.

Neither goalkeeper had much to do in the first 40 minutes with both sides not able to create many chances and take control.

Just before half time the visitors came to life and made their first real break through Lille's back line.

First the Reds saw Steven Gerrard's free kick from left outside the box brilliantly saved by Mickael Landreau.

Then Fernando Torres' header off a Glen Johnson cross was stopped well again by the French goalkeeper.

Apart from that Liverpool looked unmotivated and uncoordinated for most of the match, similar to their defeat against Wigan in the Premier League last Monday.

Not much changed in the second half, both sides losing balance and possession constantly, Liverpool leaking most on the flanks.

The Reds were lucky not to be trailing after Eden Hazard's strike was harshly disallowed offside soon after the restart.

Liverpool defender Emiliano Insua was not able to cope with the Belgium and his quality breaks from the back with his midfield companion Ludovic Obraniak and defender Da Conceicao Emerson.

Eventually the breakthrough came for the home side from a free kick late on in the match. It was smooth and cheeky, definitely not undeserved.

Hazard swung the ball into the box, to see it elude all of the players, including a frozen Pepe Reina, to glide past them into the back of the net, with no further touch or assistance needed.

Liverpool had about five minutes left to scrape something out of the match, but to no avail.

Like on Monday, the Reds' substitutions made no impact. Their bookings were needless, for pointless rants to the referee, of which, as professionals, they should know better.

All in all the performance just showed once again that the state and mentality of the team and players is in shambles.

Meanwhile, credit where credit is due, Lille will be happy to have kept their good home record on track with only one defeat in the last 17 European matches.

Liverpool Reina; Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Insua; Kuyt (El Zhar 88), Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard; Babel (Riera 73), Torres. Bookings Insua 63, Torres 67. Subs not used Cavalieri, Aquilani, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Kelly.

Lille Landreau; Beria, Chedjou, Rami, Emerson; Hazard, Balmont, Mavuba, Cabaye (Dument 74); Obraniak (Toure 83), Frau (Aubameyang 77). Bookings Toure 85, Aubameyang 88. Subs not used Butelle, Vandam, Souare, Souquet.

1st half stats:
Attempts: 4-4
On target: 2-3
Offsides: 0-0
Corners: 1-1
Free kicks: 12-4

2nd half stats:
Attempts: 5-3
On target: 3-1
Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 3-1
Free kicks: 7-12

Sky Sport stats:
Possession: 58.3%-41.7% (BBC: 57%-43%)
Passing Success: 75.6%-65.3%
Tackles/Success: 23/87%-36/75%
Territorial Advantage: 51.5%-48.5%

Referee: Alan Larsen
Man of the match: Eden Hazard

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Latics beat dire Reds

Sports - Football - Premier League - Match Report

Wigan 1-0 Liverpool

Liverpool continued their disappointing season with yet another defeat against Wigan; their ninth in the Premier League this season, seven of which have come on the road.

At the DW stadium, the visitors looked clumsy, chaotic, uncoordinated, like headless chickens, and everything else but confident with the ball, losing possession too constantly and too easily.

Even Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, who are normally their team's talismen and saviours, wasted golden opportunities on more than one occasion.

The first half was a lost cause, the second looked more like an act of desperation than recuperation, for the Reds that is.

Wigan in contrast showed great perserverance and determination - it was clear they were not going to give anything away without a fight.

Wigan took the lead deservedly in the 35th minute thanks to Dirk Kuyt's loss of possession just outside the box.

Emmerson Boyce put a superb cross through to Hugo Rodallega who made no mistake of putting the ball into the back of the net, leaving Pepe Reina helplessly stranded.

Further chances came fiew and far between the two sides - man of the match Charles N'Zogbia coming closest when his goal-bound shot was denied and cleared off the line by Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

Liverpool had uncharacteristically five names added into the referee's book, including Torres and Gerrard in the last 10 minutes, reflecting their desperation and frustration which grew more and more in the second half.

The substitutions did not make much of a change or impact for Liverpool, which the Reds desperately needed on this night and are in need of in general, if they want to keep just a glimmer of hope to end the season in the top 4!

Wigan Kirkland; Caldwell, Scharner, Boyce, Bramble; Figueroa, N'Zogbia, McCarthy, Diame (Thomas 81), Moreno (Moses 67); Rodallega (Scotland 85). Bookings Bramble 40. Subs not used Stojkovic, Amaya, Gomez, Sinclair.

Liverpool Reina; Insua, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Macherano; Benayoun (Aquilani 68), Gerrard, Lucas (Johnson 54), Rodriguez, Kuyt (Babel 81); Torres. Bookings Insua 22, Lucas 29, Kyrgiakos 33, Torres 79, Gerrard 82. Subs not used Cavalieri, Agger, Riera, Ngog.

1st half stats:
Attempts: 1-5
On target: 1-0
Offsides: 1-2
Corners: 0-2
Free kicks: 4-5

2nd half stats:
Attempts: 5-2
On target: 1-0
Offsides: 0-0
Corners: 3-3
Free kicks: 8-3

Sky Sports stats:
Possession: 37%-63% (BBC: 50%-50%)
Passing Success: 73.1%-78.7%
Tackles/Success: 35/82.9%-44/88.6%
Territorial Advantage: 57%-43%

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Charles N'Zogbia