Monday, 12 May 2014

Liverpool end season victorius at Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 2:1 Newcastle

Liverpool came back from behind to end the season on a winning note, beating 9-man Newcastle 2-1 at Anfield, but with Manchester City's comfortable 2-0 win against West Ham at the Etihad, it meant the title went to the blue side of Manchester for the second time in three seasons.

Daniel Agger scores for Liverpool against Newcastle

The Reds started the game a shadow of their usual fiery selves, shaky, wasteful and unable to keep the ball long enough to create a threat.

Star man Luis Suarez did have the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes, the Uruguayan catching Tim Krul off his line with a quickly taken free kick, but too quickly for referee Phil Dowd's liking, who disallowed the goal as the ball was still rolling.

Seconds later, Anfield was stunned to silence when the Magpies took the lead after Martin Skrtel shinned Youan Gouffran's cross from the left into the back of his own net.

Liverpool fansThe Slovakian defender now holds the unwanted record of his fourth own goal of the season, taking Liverpool's total conceded to 50 goals in a 38-game top-flight season for the first time since 1914-15.

Gouffran and Shola Ameobi kept working well together for the visitors, pulling a couple of nice stops out of Simon Mignolet, whilst at the other end Suarez and co looked more and more frustrated, not challenging Krul much.

Brendan Rodgers replaced Jon Flanagan with Aly Cissokho after the break, but the frustrating trend of slips and giveaways continued, Glen Johnson being one of the main culprits, and Ameobi not happy with Skrtel's hugs and shirt-rips either.

After the Reds' second change, just before the hour mark, Philippe Coutinho replacing Joe Allen, the game picked up for the home side, and just four minutes later, they were level thanks to Daniel Agger putting in skipper Steven Gerrard's free kick.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 11, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez celebrates the second goal against Newcastle United, scored by Sturridge, during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda) That certainly changed the mood at Anfield, and within three minutes, they were ahead after Daniel Sturridge netted another Gerrard free kick.

And things went from bad to worse for Alan Pardew's men when Ameobi was booked and then sent off within quick succession for his protests before the restart. The Nigerian striker went straight down the tunnel after being punished for all his stick and discussions with Dowd.

Newcastle rang in the changes after the dismissal, whilst Liverpool accepted the inevitable, winning here, but with City leading 2-0, the Reds had to concede the title to the Sky Blues.

Raheem Sterling saw his goal disallowed for an obvious offside, before the visitors were reduced to nine men, substitute Paul Dummett seeing red for a stupid lunge on Suarez, the Magpies' fifth dismissal in their last four meetings with Liverpool.

The Reds just ran down the clock after that, ending the game on top 2-1, and the season second on 84 points, five places and 23 points better than last season, their highest finish in five years, and qualified automatically back into the Champions League next season after four seasons away.

Brendan Rodgers Anfield applauded their side and manager, but neither could hide their disappointment after having all their hopes of a first league title in 24 years dashed as Manchester City beat West Ham to be crowned champions. 

Rodgers will have to build around Stevie G. and the SAS/SSS*, especially the back line has to be strengthened after seeing Liverpool be the first team since Tottenham in 1962-63 to score more than 100 league goals and concede 50 goals in the same season.

Mignolet has had a great first season in goal, but the defence has been too shaky and leaked too much and many through. The likes of Skrtel, Johnson, Flanagan, Kolo Toure, and Mamadou Sakho have just not been good enough.

No discrediting the Reds' improvement through, and hopes and chances to challenge at the top again next season, domestically and in Europe. Thanks to BR, SAS/SSS* and Stevie G.! YNWA XxXxX

Liverpool *SAS/SSS:
*9 - The joint-highest Goal/Assist combinations in the 2013--14 season were Suarez/Sturridge and Suarez/Sterling. (OptaJoe)
*31 - Luis Suarez's goal haul equalled a Premier League record for 38-game season, shared with Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Liverpool 2-1 Newcastle

Liverpool Goals: 1.: 63' Daniel Agger (5), 2.: 65' Daniel Sturridge (15).

Newcastle Goals: 1.: 20' Martin Skrtel (37) OG.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 38 Flanagan (20 Cissokho 46'), 5 Agger, 37 Skrtel, 2 Johnson; 14 Henderson, 8 Gerrard, 24 Allen (10 Coutinho 59'); 15 Sturridge (21 Lucas 80', booked 89'), 7 Suarez, 31 Sterling. 4-3-3 Subs not used: 1 Jones, 4 Toure, 9 Aspas, 17 Sakho.

Newcastle Team: 1 Krul; 19 Haidera, 27 Taylor (18 de Jong 73'), 2 Coloccini, 6 Williamson, 26 Debuchy (booked 35'); 11 Gouffran (booked 65') (28 Ameobi 78'), 24 Tiote (36 Dummett 82', sent off 87'), 8 Anita (booked 63'), 7 Sissoko; 23 Ameobi (booked 66', sent off 66'). 5-4-1 Subs not used: 3 Santon, 13 Yonga-Mbiwa, 21 Elliot, 37 Satka.

Opta Match Stats: Liverpool-Newcastle

Attempts: 13-8
On target: 5-2
Blocked: 5-3
From outside the box: 7-3
From inside the box: 6-5
Shot Accuracy: 62.5%-40%

(General Play)
Possession: 66.2%-33.8%
Duels won: 52.6%-47.4%
Aerials won: 56.6%-43.5%
Interceptions: 11-16
Offsides: 3-2
Corners: 6-2

Total Passes: 673-333
Long Passes: 79%-15.6%
Passing Accuracy: 89.9%-78.4%
Pass. Acc. Opp. half: 83.9%-63.6%
Total Crosses: 22-12
Successful: 22.7%-25%

(Defence & Discipline)
Tackles: 15-19
Won: 80%-94.7%
Clearances: 25-26
Fouls conceded: 8-16
Yellow Cards: 1-3
Red Cards: 0-2

Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: 44,724
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling

Friday, 9 May 2014

Palace fight back shatters Reds' title chances

Sports - Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace 3:3 Liverpool

Liverpool's star striker Luis Suarez was left in tears at the final whistle at Selhurst Park, after seeing his side throw away a three-goal lead against a defiant Crystal Palace side, the Reds' defence and title chances crumbled to bits with the 3-3 draw and two points dropped.

Liverpool dejected after draw at Crystal Palace

Brendan Rodgers' men had bossed the game for about 70 minutes, before the London side turned the match on its head, cracking for all neutrals and football fans watching.

The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute, Joe Allen heading in his first Liverpool goal off a corner. Selhurst Park stayed loud and defiant, but the Reds kept control till the break.

And the game looked all but over, when Daniel Sturridge at the edge of the box, made, turned, shot and deflected a shot in to double the lead, followed by Suarez, who made no mistake off Raheem Sterling, netting past a stunned Julian Speroni, to make it 0-3 within under two minutes.

The Eagles were rewarded for the noise and defiance, when Damien Delaney smashed a cracker of a shot past a helpless Simon Mignolet to make it 1-3 and kick-off a great comeback.

Dwight GayleSeconds later, Philippe Coutinho missed a chance before Palace hit back on the counter attack, with a great break and run by Yannick Bolasie, leaving sub Dwight Gayle with an easy finish, to make it 2-3 with under 10 minutes to go, turning on the crowd even more and louder.

It was all Palace in the end, and Liverpool crumbled to bits, caved in under all the pressure. Mignolet made some strong stops, but was well beaten when Gayle slid a shot under him to double his tally and make it 3-3, completing Liverpool's heartbreak in the final minutes.

Tony Pulis can be proud of his side and job, not just in this match, but in the last few weeks. From relegation destined and written off, to mid-table comfort and delight for the London side.

Luis Suarez and Kolo ToureThe Reds meanwhile, were devastated the opposite way, not just in this match, but in the title race. As Martin Tyler said, it went from all right to all wrong for Liverpool, as their title chances are now in Manchester City's control, after this reverse deja vu of the 2005 Champions League final (Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, three goals in nine minutes for the Reds). 

Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool

Crystal Palace Goals: 1.: 78:19 min Damien Delaney (27), 2.&3.: 80:18 & 87:24 min Dwight Gayle (16).

Liverpool Goals: 1.: 17:44 min Joe Allen (24), 2.: 52:45 min & 3.: 54:43 min Luis Suarez (7).

Crystal Palace Team: 1 Speroni; 2 Ward, 27 Delaney, 6 Dann (booked 67'), 3 Mariappa (booked 30'); 8 Dikgacoi (11 Ince '85), 15 Jedinak; 7 Bolasie, 28 Ledley, 13 Puncheon (16 Gayle 65'); 29 Chamakh (17 Murray 71'). 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 4 Parr, 12 O'Keefe, 19 Gabbidon, 26 Hennessey.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 38 Flanagan, 17 Sakho, 37 Skrtel (booked 63'), 2 Johnson; 21 Lucas, 24 Allen (booked 25'), 8 Gerrard; 15 Sturridge (12 Moses 86'), 7 Suarez (booked 50'), 31 Sterling (10 Coutinho 78'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 4 Toure, 5 Agger, 9 Aspas, 20 Cissokho.

Opta Match Stats: Crystal Palace-Liverpool
Attempts: 10-26
On target: 6-8
Blocked: 1-9
From outside the box: 6-10
From inside the box: 4-16
Shot Accuracy: 66.7%-47.1%
(General Play)
Possession: 34.9%-65.1%
Duels won: 53.8%-46.2%
Aerials won: 41.5%-58.5%
Interceptions: 18-11
Offsides: 0-3
Corners: 7-7
Total Passes: 295-608
Long Passes: 13.9%-6.7%
Passing Accuracy: 73.6%-88%
Pass. Acc. Opp. half: 60.8%-79.9%
Total Crosses: 28-14
Successful: 14.3%-35.7%
(Defence & Discipline)
Tackles: 19-16
Won: 78.9%-93.8%
Clearances: 21-28
Fouls conceded: 7-12
Yellow Cards: 2-3
Red Cards: 0-0

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Attendance: 25,261
Man of the match: Dwight Gayle