Sunday, 19 September 2010

Berbatov hat-trick spoils Liverpool comeback

Sports - Football - Premier League - Man Utd 3:2 Liverpool

What a show - a show of two very different halves! Liverpool started frail and clumsy as always against a strong and pacey United side and just when it looked like they were going to make a comeback and take the sting out of United's surge, their Bulgarian striker upset the Scousers' plans with a hat-trick, the first United player in 64 years to do so against Liverpool.

The Red Devils took the lead in the 42nd minute after a comfortable half against a below-par Liverpool side, Dimitar Berbatov heading a corner in, Fernando Torres covering the striker on the wrong side and looking like a very bad and sad marker behind him. Paul Konchesky seemed to have handled the ball before it crossed the line, in an apparent attempt to save it, but nobody noticed or cared as the ball passed and the goal stood anyway.

Torres showed a weak display again, falling and moaning, not knowing what to do with the ball the few times it came his way, again looking like he wanted to be everywhere else but on the football pitch, a too familiar sight this season.

The second half United continued to dominate, Nani's explosive shot from the right edge of the box hitting the right post. Berbatov doubled the lead on 59 with a brilliant overhead shot off a Darren Fletcher cross from the right which looked impossible but went in off the crossbar past a motionless Pepe Reina, definite candidate for goal of the season.

Roy Hodgson made his first change, bringing on David Ngog for an inconspicuous Maxi Rodriguez and changing the formation to two up front. Only seconds later, Jonny Evans conceded a penalty with a needless tackle on Torres, Fletcher pointlessly ranting on about the decision to referee Howard Webb and had to be ushered away.

Skipper Steven Gerrard netted the spot kick comfortably sending Edwin van der Sar the wrong way. This finally got Liverpool's hopes and determination up and going, leading to some feisty action and attacks and a bulk of crunches, tackles and bookings. The game picked up in pace and atmosphere.

John O'Shea was lucky not be sent off when he was the last man to bring down Torres just outside the box. Booked and a free kick conceded, it was between him and Fletcher whom Gerrard squeezed the ball, curling it past them and into the back of the net and making the impossible possible - could Liverpool grab a win?

At 2-2 the chances for a perfect comeback looked much better than only ten minutes before the free kick at 2-0. It was United who looked all over the place, as if they were impersonating the Liverpool side of the first half.

Changes were made to save at least the one point for the Scousers, but Berbatov thought and made sure otherwise heading O'Shea's cross over Jamie Carragher, past Reina into the back of the net six minutes from time.

It is still zero points in the end for Liverpool, their worst start to a season in 18 years, down to 16th in the league, the situation looks everything else but rosey, but at least they showed some determination and will to fight back and win it, which has been missing of them most of the season so far.

Meanwhile Sir Alex Ferguson will be relieved that his side didn't throw away the points again like against Everton last week, his side up and comfortable in third, three points ahead of Tottenham and one behind Chelsea at the top (before their game in hand against Blackpool).

Man Utd: Van der Sar; O'Shea (booked 69), Vidic, Evans (booked 63), Evra; Nani (Gibson 88), Fletcher, Scholes (booked 68), Giggs (Macheda 82); Berbatov (goals 41:23, 58:36 & 83:36) (Anderson 88), Rooney (booked 57). 4-4-2
Subs not used:
Kuszczak, Brown, Owen, Smalling.

Liverpool team: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky (Agger 82); Maxi (Ngog 62, booked 66), Poulsen, Meireles (Jovanovic 79), Cole; Gerrard (goals 63:38 pen & 69:50), Torres. 4-5-1 (to 4-4-2 with Ngog)
Subs not used: Jones, Babel, Kyrgiakos, Lucas.

1st half stats
Man Utd-Liverpool

On target: 1-0
Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 5-1
Free kicks: 3-9

2nd half stats

Man Utd-Liverpool


On target:



Free kicks:

Sky Stats
Man Utd-Liverpool
47%-53% (38); 49.5%-50.5%
Passing Success: 84.4%-83.2%
Tackles/Success: 14/71.4%-19/73.7%
Action Areas: Man Utd 8%-54%-38% Liverpool (10)
Territorial Advantage: 59.8%-40.2%

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Dimitar Berbatov

Friday, 17 September 2010

All fo(u)r joy at Anfield ahead of big clash

Sports - Football - Europa League - Liverpool 4:1 Steaua Bucharest

After one weak display after another, Liverpool knew they they had to boost their form and determination in preparation for their big Premier League Super Sunday clash ahead against their Northern rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

They couldn't have wished for a better start when Joe Cole swooped in on an ugly clumsy backpass by Octavian Abrudan to make it 1-0 after just 26 seconds of play.

But the red storm didn't last long, with the all too familiar clumsiness and carelessness sneaking into their game again, giving their Romanian opposition less to worry about, less pressure to work against.

With eight changes made to the side that drew against Birmingham on Sunday with a lacklustre display and lack of passion, Jay Spearing was one of the youngsters given the chance to impress and so he did.

But in one of thos moments-to-forget, he slipped and to let Bogdan Stancu through to slid a pass to Cristian Tanase who was too quick and broke through between Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Martin Kelly and put the ball up, over, and past a helpless Pepe Reina.

Steaua kept solid and Liverpool more and more frustrated to take them through to half time all square at 1-1.

It took a controversial twist in the second half to turn the game around for Liverpool. Kyrgiakos staged a dramatic tumble onto the ground although replays showed Pantelis Kapetanos hardly touched him - the latter seeing yellow and the prior winning a penalty for his dramatic improvisation for David Ngog to net it comfortably and give the Reds a lucky lead.

But this lucky turn of events seemed to have put Liverpool into gear - finally! Steaua fought hard, not breaking down easily even after the game turned against them. But even their stubbornness and bullishness couldn't stop sub Lucas Leiva's superb right-footed strike from outside the box into the bottm right-hand corner to make it 3-1.

And to put salt onto the Romanians' wound, in injury time, Ngog squeezed between four yellow shirts in the box, looking like he was going to cock it up and waste it, but put a quick solid right-foot shot into the left corner of the net instead, his second goal of the match and sixth of the season - a promising trend in comparison to his eight in total last season.

Let's hope this 4-1 win will also be a promising indication of what is to come and what Liverpool side will turn up at Old Trafford on Sunday...

Reina; Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Konchesky; Spearing, Meireles, Maxi (booked 63, Pacheco 85), Cole (goal 1, Eccleston 88); Babel (Lucas 78 goal 82), Ngog (goal 55 & 91). 4-5-1
Subs not used:
Jones, Johnson, Carragher, Shelvey.

Steaua Bucharest: Tatarusanu; Emeghara (Nicolita 20), Abrudan (booked 44), Geraldo, Latovlevici; Radut (Surdu 73), Angelov (Eder 52 booked 90), Bicfalvi, Tanase (goal 13), Stancu, Kapetanos (booked 55). 4-5-1
Subs not used: Lungu, Gardos, Gomes, Apostol.

1st half stats
Liverpool-Steaua Bucharest

On target: 3-2
Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 2-1
Free kicks: 5-7

2nd half stats

Liverpool-Steaua Bucharest


On target:



Free kicks:

Sky Stats
Liverpool-Steaua Bucharest
Passing Success: 84.3%-77.6%
Tackles/Success: 22/81.8%-21/66.7%
Territorial Advantage: 59.9%-40.1%

Cesar Muniz Fernandez (Spain)

Man of the match:
Joe Cole

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Dire draw for the Reds at St Andrew

Sports - Football - Premier League - Birmingham 0:0 Liverpool

Apart from the last 20 minutes of the first half, this was a pain to watch once again. Liverpool were all over the place and nowhere at the same time.

Scott Dann, Roger Johnson and Liam Ridgewell did well to frustrate the hell out of Fernando Torres who was made unscheinbar and abwesend by their coordinated work and cover.

The Spanish striker just looked out of place, like he didn't want to be there.
In contrast, the only player who seemed to be present and making an effort of the game, looking omni-present nearly was Pepe Reina.

He produced three top-notch saves that looked impossible to stop, like the shots had already passed him and he beemed them back out, denying Cameron Jerome and Craig Gardner.

The second half continued in the same trend. Liverpool could have been three or four goals down if it were not for their Spanish keeper - who had a nightmare international friendly outing midweek, 4-1 against Argentina - from zero back to hero.

Roy Hodgson tried to defend Torres and to look onto the positive side after yet another subdued performance.

Alex McLeish was left a happy but a bit frustrated/ruing man and rightly so - Birmingham showed a good, strong performance which deserved more out of the match but lacked the cutting edge to take advantage, score and bank all three points.

Birmingham are now 17 Premier League games unbeaten at home (12 months) whilst things will get evrything else but easier and better for Liverpool with a trip to Old Trafford up next in the Premier League after their Europa League encounter against Steaua Bucharest midweek - Liverpool looking everything else but strong competitors with only two goals in their opening four league games this season.

We will see if Hodgson's hopes and optimism will pay off or whether he'll have to dream on and eat his words...

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky (Agger 78); Maxi, Lucas (Meireles 76), Poulsen, Jovanovic; Gerrard; Torres. 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: Jones, Kyrgiakos, Pacheco, Babel, Ngog.

Birmingham: Foster; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgwell; Bowyer, Gardner (booked 29), Ferguson, Larsson; Jerome; McFadden (Zigic 90). 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: Taylor, Murphy, Jiranek, Marcos Madera, Fahey, Derbyshire.

BBC stats:


Attempts: 15-14
On target: 3-8
Corners: 4-3
Free kicks: 9-8
Possession: 53%-47%

Sky Stats:


Attempts: 15-10
On target: 2-3 Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 4-3
Free kicks: 9-8
Possession: 44.3%-55.7%
Passing Success: 70.9%-78.2%
Tackles/Success: 22/63.6%-12/83.3%
Territorial Advantage: 50.3%-49.7%

Referee: Mark Halsey

Man of the match: Pepe Reina