Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reds Held To Goal-less Draw

Stopped The Rot And Better Performance This Time Round:

UEFA Champions League
Group C

PSV Eindhoven 0 - 0 Liverpool

The post was all that seperated Liverpool and three points, after Steven Gerrard crashed a half volley onto the post in the 89 minute. Fans of both sides gasp in awe as the skipper collected Dirk Kuyt's loose pass and spectacularly smashed it in a volley, leaving PSV 'keeper Gomes with no chance, but was unlucky to hit the foot of the post and bounce clear.

Liverpool rung changes following the painful 3-0 derby defeat by Everton. Hyypia, Alonso, Gerrard, Crouch, Fowler and Luis Garcia were dropped to the bench. Agger started alongside Carragher while Stephen Warnock replaces Aurelio, who played on the left wing position. Zenden started in central midfield and both Kuyt and Bellamy played up front.

PSV sounded their intention after Ivorian striker, Arouna Kone used his pace to shurg off Carragher before unleashing a powerful drive that went past Reina, but denied by the cross bar. That certainly sounded the alarm and Liverpool did seemed to wake up to that call.

Liverpool played a more conservative game with Kuyt as the target man and Bellamy the shadow striker, with his mobility and pace. It was clear that Benitez wanted to use the passing ability of Aurelio together with Bellamy's speed and hit PSV on the break. Liverpool certainly did have some opportunity, but chances were scarce, only a couple of half chances.

PSV stepped up a gear in the second half, left little space behind the defence for Bellamy to run at and therefore, Liverpool seemed to have little options but to aim long ball at Kuyt and hope for Bellamy to get onto the knockdowns. PSV found some gaps between the defence and midfield and there were occasions where pacy players like Farfan and Culina were allowed to run at the defence line while Zenden and Sissoko went missing.

But the introduction to Xabi Alonso brought a little more orderliness to the team and therefore, the awkwardness in that partnership of Zenden and Sissoko were clear. I personally think they're not suitable to play with each other. Sissoko was often dragged out of position due to Zenden's poor positioning and therefore, there were gaps. Thankfully, nobody exploited it and other than that one or two saves, Reina had a pretty quiet game.

It was clear that PSV was playing for a draw and I believe both Ronald Koeman and Rafa Benitez would not be too unhappy about the result. To me, I thought we could've won it if not for some wasted opportunity, poor team work and understanding and as well as the luck factor.

I thought we should've changed Gerrard for Pennant instead of Bellamy. Pennant seemed subdued and constantly losing possesion in midfield while Bellamy, althought a little quiet in the second half, looked lively throughout and deserved more time to get playing time together with Kuyt.

I must say the back four of Finnan, Carragher, Agger and Warnock were pretty solid throughout and a HUGE improvement compared to Saturday's game. Carragher did looked knackered at the end, but did his job well while Agger continued his good form and this is certainly not a good news for Sami Hyypia. Kuyt was industrious and could've scored from that long range effort while Bellamy done well, albeit his chronic lack of positioning sense.

Could have been better, a win. But I pleased for the draw and the result isn't too bad. Away games are always difficult yet we didn't put ourselves under much pressure, certainly an improvement. Steady the ship and now, bring on Chelsea!

No comments: