Friday, 31 August 2012

Suarez spares Reina's blushes

Sports - Football - Europa League Qualifying Play-Off

Luis Suarez spared Pepe Reina's blushes with a last-gasp equaliser as Liverpool drew 1-1 with Hearts at Anfield which made it 2-1 on aggregate and took the Reds through to the Europa League group stage.

Suarez: Scored crucial late goal

Brendan Rodgers' side dominated the second leg of their qualifying round play-off against the Scottish side. But the home side wasted their chances and were punished for not adding to their 1-0 aggregate lead, an all-too familiar tune for the Reds, Suarez especially.

With just under six minutes left on the clock, Hearts forward David Templeton saw his strike squirm through Reina's grasp, a classic blooper moment for the usually solid and consistent Spanish keeper.

But with extra time looming, Liverpool stepped up a gear and Suarez broke free off a Steven Gerrard free kick, down the left and fired across goal from a tight angle, keeper Jamie MacDonald left wondering how the hell that found its way in.

Luis Suarez (right) scored Liverpool's equaliser at AnfieldIn the end, Liverpool thoroughly deserved the lead and result, a certain Uruguayan forward making amends for a handful of misses earlier in the game.

The youngsters impressed once again. 18-year-old striker Adam Morgan was handed his first start and looked like he rewarded his manager on 34 when he side-footed one home, only to see the goal disallowed as the ball had gone out before Suarez crossed.

17-year-old substitute Raheem Sterling added some speed and enthusiasm to the game agains when he came on with just under half an hour to go.

Hearts manager John McGlynnAll in all, Liverpool looked the brighter and better side, with some fine one-twos and breaks and dominance in possession. But just like against Manchester City on Sunday, they were made to pay for their missed chances and stupid mistakes.

With only hour(s) left in the transfer window and Andy Carroll confirmed out on loan to West Ham, Liverpool neeed to add to their squad force to help and assist Suarez on his quest for Red goals and points,

Meanwhile, John McGlynn's men can go back home with their heads held high. They fought till the end, not letting off and not making anything easy for their opposition. Respect.

FT Liverpool 1:1 Hearts (2:1 on aggregate)

Liverpool Goals: 1: 87:23min Luis Suarez (7).

Hearts Goals: 1: 84:03min David Templeton (7).

Liverpool: 25 Reina; 19 Downing, 37 Skrtel, 23 Carragher, 34 Kelly; 33 Shelvey, 24 Allen, 14 Henderson (29 Borini - 76.); 7 Suarez, 50 Morgan (31 Sterling - 62.), 8 Gerrard. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 2 Johnson, 3 Enrique, 5 Agger, 16 Coates.

Hearts: 1 MacDonald; 3 Grainger (bkd 86.), 26 Zaliukas, 6 Webster, 4 McGowan; 33 Paterson, 10 Taozuil, 5 Barr (bkd 81.), 18 Novikovas (37 Carrick - 75.); 7 Templeton; 9 Sutton (11 Driver - 66.). 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: 31 Hamilton, 8 Robinson, 15 Holt, 19 McGowan, 29 McHattie.

BBC Stats: Liverpool-Hearts
Attempts: 17-9
On target: 12-4
Corners: 11-1
Free kicks: 9-11
Possession: 57%-43%

Referee: Vladislav Bezboradov

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tevez steals the show & point for City at Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 2:2 Manchester City

Carlos Tevez spoilt the show at Anfield with his 100th goal in the English game. The Argentine took advantage of Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel's mistake, a poor backpass, when he netted Manchester City's second of the day to make it all sqare, 2-2.

Carlos Tevez

Liverpool were defiant and intent to perform and come back strong after their dire 3-0 defeat at West Brom last weekend and the Reds did so from the start.

Martin Skrtel: It was a case of from hero to zero for the Liverpool manHaving lost Lucas Leiva early on in the match due to injury (5.), substitute Jonjo Shelvey and youngster Raheem Sterling impressed with their resilience and stubbornness throughout the match.

New signing Joe Allen showed some great creativity and productive passing play and the two Martins at the back, Skrtel and Kelly, kept City's front force of Mario Balotelli and Tevez stumm for most of the game, too.

So, the home side looked dominant and in firm control when Skrtel banged in a header off skipper Steven Gerrard's corner just past the half-hour mark and Liverpool took the 1-0 lead into the break.

Yaya Toure scored Man City's first equaliser in what was an engrossing contestHowever, with just under half an hour to go, Pepe Reina gave away the ball to Yaya Toure who just had to tap it in to level the score 1-1 for City.

Exactly three minutes later, Luis Suarez saw his brilliant free kick from just out side the boxc curl around and over the wall into the top right corner of the net, Joe Hart left stranded and City 2-1 behind.

But with City being the new and proven late comeback kings, Tevez made sure the champions would not go back home empty handed turning Skrtel from hero to zero and making Liverpool pay with his equaliser.

Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan's stunning free-kick gave Liverpool a 2-1 leadBrendan Rodgers brought on Andy Carroll late on to see if the out-of-favour striker could make another comeback out of the comeback, but to no avail. Shelvey came closest to a late winner when he saw his strong drive from 25-yards just clearing the bar.

But the Reds can draw strength and confidence from this impressive performance. After making the champions shake and trail as they did, I am sure the (young) Reds can set up a good and strong run and side from here.

FT Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City (HT 1-0)

Liverpool Goals: 1: 33:37min Martin Skrtel (37), 2: 65:54min Luis Suarez (7).

Man City Goals: 1: 62:54min Yaya Toure (42), 2: 79:19min Carlos Tevez (32).

Liverpool: 25 Reina; 2 Johnson, 16 Coates, 37 Skrtel, 34 Kelly (3 Jose Enrique - 66.); 24 Allen, 21 Lucas (33 Shelvey - 5.); 31 Sterling, 8 Gerrard, 29 Borini (9 Carroll - 83.); 7 Suarez (bkd 94.). 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 14 Henderson, 19 Downing, 23 Carragher.

Man City: 1 Hart; 13 Kolarov, 28 Toure, 4 Kompany, 5 Zabaleta; 34 de Jong, 42 Toure; 8 Nasri (17 Rodwell - 59.), 32 Tevez, 7 Milner (21 Silva - 76.); 45 Balotelli (10 Dzeko - 62.). 4-2-3-1.
Subs not used: 30 Pantilimon, 6 Lescott, 15 Savic, 62 Razak.

Match Stats: Liverpool-Man City
Attempts: 17-11
On target: 3-3
Offsides: 0-1
Corners: 4-4
Free kicks: 8-10
Possession: 48.7%-51.3%
Tackles: 18-26
Tackles Success: 77.8%-76.9%
Passes: 462-484
Passes Success: 80.5%-84.1%
Crosses: 18-22
Crosses Success: 33.3%-9.1%
Territorial Advantage: 50.5%-49.5%

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling (31)

Week 2: Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

And the second week of the 2012-13 Premier League season did not disappoint either! We saw 24 goals, 183 attempts, 78 on target, 105 off target, 197 fouls, 17 yellow cards, one sending off, two penalties, countless rain and one game postponed due to the beautiful English weather. Here are my best and worst picks of the weekend:


Wayne Rooney: Manchester United striker likely to be out for four weeks after suffering leg injuryWayne Rooney's deep cut over the knee did not look nice! The former Everton striker was dropped from Manchester United's starting lineup by Sir Alex Ferguson but came on as a substitute in the second half replacing Shinji Kagawa. Deep into injury time he suffered the large gash to his right leg after he attempted to charge down Hugo Rodallega's shot and the Fulham forward's studs inadvertently came down onto his leg. Straight away it was clear how serious the injury was and the England striker was stretchered off. Rooney is expected to be out for at least four weeks, missing England's upcoming World Cup qualifiers and United's league clash against rivals Liverpool at Anfield. This gives Robin van Persie more than a golden chance to shine over the next weeks!


Eden Hazard (left) and Fernando TorresIt has been a terrific start to the season for Roberto Di Matteo's Blues! After three games and three wins, Chelsea are now looking forward to the UEFA Super Cup clash against Atletico Madrid on Friday. With Fernando Torres finally shining and seemingly back to his best and new star man Juan Mata showing pace, tenacity and an eye for a pass, this duo have the potential of making (or breaking) Roman Abramovich's season over the next weeks and months. The Russian tycoon will be hoping the London club will be title contenders once again after finally tasting European success last season.

Danny GrahamEverton and Swansea have also impressed with their starts to the season, two wins out of two and twelve goals between them! Obviously it is still too early to tell, but from what we have seen so far, David Moyes and his boys can gain confidence and focus on a top four spot after beating United and Aston Villa. Michael Laudrup will be more than happy with the start to the season by his Swans, but with the wins coming against newly promoted West Ham and relegation battlers of last season QPR, the Dane will know to compose himself and his side for more and harder times to come! But after this weekend, even Cesc Fabregas tweeted his appreciation of and admiration for the Swans!


The Belgian playmaker Mata produced a superb flick to set up Torres to make it 2-0 to Chelsea against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard's powerful strike made this his sixth goals in nine games for club and country.

Robin van Persie congratulated by team-matesRvP's left-footer against the angle was a stunner sending Patrice Evra's cross into the back of the net to make it 1-1 and equalise for Manchester United after Damien Duff had shocked Old Trafford and opened the scoring for Fulham converting a well-worked free kick. The Dutchman will be glad to have found his opener for United so early on in the season and hoping he can add plenty more over the coming weeks with Rooney missing out due to injury.

Luis Suarez' free kick for Liverpool was unstoppable! The Argentine forward curled the ball around and past the wall, well out of the City keeper Joe Hart's reach, to make it 2-1 seconds after Yaya Toure tapped in Pepe Reina's giveaway to equalise for City. Breathtaking goal in a brilliant game!


So far, it has not been a good weekend or season for defenders and goalkeepers, with a hand full of nightmare rebounds and back passes!

Djibril Cisse and Leon BarnettAfter Norwich debutant Sebastien Bassong was debatably penalised for pulling down QPR forward Djibril Cisse, keeper John Ruddy did a great job of saving the spot kick, but the rebound found Bobby Zamora who made no mistake of netting it to equalise and make it 1-1. The keeper was not happy with that and replays showed the players were inside the box when the spot kick was taken which means the penalty should have been retaken!

Angel Rangel fires Swansea in front with a little hand from West Ham keeper Jussi JaaskelainenAngel Rangel's shot-cum-pass from the right went under goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to give the Swans the lead against the Hammers. The Spanish defender claimed it of course eventhough it was more luck than shine. Miguel Michu took advantage of a short backpass by James Collins and punished the defender for his mistake nipping the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 and complete the WHam nightmare!

Keeper David De Gea's punch deflected in off defender Nemanja Vidic to make it 3-2 and a nervy finish for United against Fulham at Old Trafford.

Carlos TevezRed defender Martin Skrtel's back pass to Reina which found Carlos Tevez for the second equaliser will have made Anfield cringe after they played so well against the defending champions. The Slovak's mistake gave the Argentine his 100th goal in English football and City one point.


Eden Hazard: Continued his bright start to life at Chelsea with an impressive displayThe youngsters were the best this weekend!
Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey impressed for Liverpool, staying on the ball and frustrating the opposition in a nailbiter of a game against defending champions Manchester City. 
Eden Hazard and Mata were scorer and provider in Chelsea's stroll to their third win in a row.
But as mentioned above, the "old boys" impressed too with Torres and RVP shining on the pitch and coreboard once again.


Santi CazorlaArsenal disappointed again with a goalless draw at Stoke. It was a game with not much to write about as both sides cancelled each other out. Stoke kept a back line of ten players which frustrated and kept Arsenal out and left no form or space for any kind of attack on neither side which voided any form or chance of a competition. I hope and think that things will be very different for the Gunners next weekend, beware, as Arsene Wenger's men will be heading to Anfield, where they have yet to see a goalless game in the Premier League era!

My Predictions => Actual Results

Swansea 2-1 West Ham => 3-0
Aston Villa 0-1 Everton => 1-3
Man United 3-1 Fulham => 3-2
Norwich 0-0 QPR => 1-1
Southampton 2-0 Wigan => 0-2
Sunderland P-P Reading => postponed due to waterlogged pitch
Tottenham 2-0 West Brom => 1-1
Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle => 2-0
Stoke 1-1 Arsenal => 0-0
Liverpool 2-3 Man City => 2-2

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Week 1: Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

And it's finally back! The new Premier League season has kicked off and it started in style! This weekend we saw 27 goals, six home wins, two away wins, two draws, two red cards, seven penalties awarded, five of the spot kicks netted, five set piece goals, 17 open play goals and three headed goals. Oh, and a couple of surprises too! Here are my picks of the week:


Mladen Petric (left) celebrates scoring for Fulham on his debutThe three results that gob-smacked me most were Fulham's and Swansea's five-star thrashings of Norwich and QPR respectively and Liverpool's 3-0 defeat at West Brom. All three games were filled with defensive shambles and cringes as well as offensive flourishes and attacking blasts and shine. This was the first time since August 1958 we have seen two top-flight teams score five goals in the opening fixtures! Lucky number five!


Carlos TevezSouthampton's performance against Champions Manchester City more than impressed. The newly promoted side from the South coast was given no chance, in this fixture and league. But Nigel Adkins' men showed what they are made of and gave City a good run for their money. And it was only the eighth time in Premier League history when three subsitutes  have scored in the same game (=> Steve Davis, Rickie Lambert and Edin Dzeko). Super subs ahoy!


Zoltan GeraZoltan Gera's smacker against Liverpool gave West Brom a well deserved lead against Brendan Rodgers' men and warned the Merseysiders of what was ahead. Pepe Reina had no chance to stop this breathtaking strike from the edge of the box! Ben Foster made some great stops and saves frustrating Luis Suarez who seemed not quite on the ball missing a handful of chances. An all-too familiar sound to the Reds who will be looking to add more names onto their team sheet before the summer transfer window closes at the end of August.


Daniel Agger's sending off obviously did not help Liverpool's case after the Danish defender pushed and brought down Shane Long in the box. The Irish striker's resulting spot kick could not have been softer though and was an easy stop for Pepe! It was a let off as far as Liverpool were concerned, otherwise it could have ended up being an even more embarrassing thrashing result!

Sent off: Referee Kevin Friend shows the red card to Dean WhiteheadStoke's opener against newly promoted Reading was more than embarrasing for keeper Adam Federici when he let Michael Kightly's soft shot slip through his arms. The more relieved he could be when his side equalised with a last-minute penalty kick by Adam Le Fondre after Reading sub Garath McClearly was brought down in the box by Dean Whitehead who received his marching orders for his second bookable offence.


Everton celebrate Marouane Fellaini's winnerMarouane Fellaini's unstoppable bullet header gave Everton a deserved lead and home win against Manchester United. The six-foot-four-and-a-half-inch Belgium striker was the star of the show as Toffees dominated play both at the front and the back at Goodison Park. New United signing Robin van Persie's debut was less impressive. Brought on in the 68th minute, it looked like the Dutchman could be the saviour the Red Devils needed but nothing Sir Alex Ferguson's men threw at the home side could break them. They kept strong and solid and more than deserved the three points.


Olivier GiroudArsenal's goalless draw against Sunderland was disappointing to watch. It was a frustrating opening to the season for the Gunners, new signings German striker Lukas Podolski and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla impressing and enjoying much of the possession but missing the killer instinct in the final third, firing loads of blanks, giving keeper Simon Mignolet not much to do. C'est la vie sans RVP, Monsieur Wenger! Pas bon!

My Predictions => Actual Results

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland => 0-0
Fulham 2-1 Norwich => 5-0
QPR 2-0 Swansea => 0-5
Reading 1-0 Stoke => 1-1
West Brom 0-2 Liverpool => 3-0
West Ham 2-1 Aston Villa => 1-0
Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham => 2-1
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea => 0-2
Man City 4-0 Southampton => 3-2
Everton 0-2 Man United => 1-0
Chelsea 3-1 Reading => 4-2

Monday, 13 August 2012

Liverpool end pre-season on a 3-1 high

Sports - Football - Pre-Season Friendly

Liverpool 3:1 Bayer Leverkusen

Liverpool completed their season preparations in style, beating German opposition Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 at Anfield, keeping new manager Brendan Rodgers' home record 100% successful with two wins out of two games.

Raheem Sterling curled in a beauty of a shot just a couple of minutes into the match, a magnificent right-footed curl-shot into the corner of the net after cutting in nicely. A gold-medal start for the young winger and the Reds.

The home side continued dominating the field and possession and doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark thanks to Lucas Leiva's tap in connecting to a give-away by Luis Suarez after Leverkusen's defence just fell asleep.

So, the Reds took a comfortable 2-0 lead into the break and the visitors did not form much of a thret at the start of the second half either, the game noticeably slowing down as a consequence.

On 65, Andy Carroll saw his left-footed drive skiddle past the goalkeeper Bernd Leno's leghs, the German keeper not happy with letting that one in but it was clever play by Charlie Adam leading up to the goal plus one happy Carroll to be on the scoresheet and underline his will to stay in the side that lead Liverpool ahead 3-0.

Leverkusen's number 18 Sidney Sam hit a rocket left-footer, diagonal from outside the box, past Pepe Reina, to make it 3-1, no chance for the Spanish keeper. But Super Sam's strike was just a consolation goal for Sami Hyypiä's men, the last quarter of an hour passing ny with the home side in comfortable control and neither goalkeeper being challenged.

This was a nice win for Rodgers' Reds, a good note to end the pre-season and see more names on the scoreboard. All eyes are now on the remaining weeks of the transfer window and kick-off to the new Premier League season next weekend.
I hope and think the Reds are just warming up on both notes!

Liverpool 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen (HT 2-0) at Anfield

Liverpool Goals: 1: 2:08 min Raheem Sterling (31), 2: 28:54 min Lucas Leiva (21), 3: 64:51 min Andy Carroll (9).

Leverkusen Goals: 1: 74:54 min Sidney Sam (18).

Liverpool 1st half: 25 Reina; 3 Enrique, 10 Coates, 23 Carragher, 34 Kelly; 33 Shelvey, 21 Lucas, 8 Gerrard (c), 19 Downing, 31 Sterling; 7 Suarez. 4-5-1
2nd half Subs: All HT: ON: 9 Carroll, 14 Henderson, 20 Spearing, 26 Adam, 49 Robinson. OFF:  7, 19, 21, 8, 3.
Subs not used: 1 Jones.

Leverkusen 1st half: 1 Leno; 24 Kadlec, 3 Reinartz, 4 Wollscheid, 2 Schwaab; 8 Bender, 6 Rolfes (c), 21 Toprak; 38 Bellarabi, 9 Schurrle, 11 Kießling. 4-3-3
2nd half Subs: HT: ON: 5 Friedrich, 14 Hosogai, 18 Sam, 27 Castro. OFF: 21, 9, 38, 24. 68.: ON: 13 Hegeler, 20 Carvajal. OFF:  8, 2. 70.: ON: 7 Fernandes. OFF: 11.
Subs not used: 23 Carlinhos, 22 Yelldell.

1st & 2nd half stats: Liverpool-Leverkusen
Attempts: 4-5 & 5-3
On target: 2-1 & 1-1
Offsides: 0-0 & 1-0
Corners: 1-1 & 1-3
Free kicks: 1-1 & 5-1
Possession: 66%-34% (23.)
Passing Stats: Reina 55 (Accuracy 80%) => his best since 40 v Aston Villa (A) last season, Sterling 19 (94.74%), Coates 64 (96.9%), Kelly 61 (90.2%), Shelvey 59 (84.8%), Carragher 77 (94.8%); 1st half: Downing 34 (85.29%), Suarez 12 (75%), Enrique 21 (80.95%), Gerrard 32 (87.5%), Lucas 46 (91.3%); 2nd half: Carroll 6 (66.7%), Adam 23 (87%), Robinson 30 (94.59%), Henderson 37 (97.3%). 1st half: Coates 29 (100%), Lucas 46 (91.3%).
Referee: Martin Atkinson