Friday, July 27, 2007

Former Red Steals The Limelight

James The Hero In Penalties

Barclays Asia Trophy

Portsmouth 0 - 0 Liverpool
(Portsmouth win 4-2 on penalties)

Once a custodian for the Liverpool side back in the late 90s, David James faced his former club over at Hong Kong at the Barclays Asia Trophy and pulled off a strings of saves to stop the Reds from claiming the cup, which they probably deserved a little more.

Prior to the game, James spoke about his disappointment as to how he left the club but turned on style to help Portsmouth edge out Liverpool in a thrilling game which was concluded by penalties.

Asian Liverpool fans were given a treat on Tuesday night as the Reds managed to beat the home side, South China FC while Portsmouth defeated Fulham 1-0 to set up a mouth watering encounter.

The Hong Kong Liverpool fans turned up in droves and flooded the Hong Kong National Stadium like a sea of red. Their passion was never in question as they screamed in awe when the tannoy announces the starting line up. Captain, Steven Gerrard, probably got the loudest cheer of the night as he made his way into the field in the closing minutes of the game.

But it was the small portion of fans in blue that gone home a little happier as the Barclays Asia Trophy finally ended with an anti-climatic feel to it.

Despite dominating and carving out a couple of clear cut chances, Liverpool were unable to finish the game off just as how it has been all of last season. Finishing was poor at times and the Reds were punished albeit being only just a friendly cup that matters little.

But one has to wonder what effect it has got on newer players such as Yossi Benayoun and most importantly, Fernando Torres, who will assume the role of a goal getter for Liverpool in the upcoming season.

Both mentioned missed penalties and the effect on their morale could affect their confidence.

Yet if the others managed to bury their chances earlier on, it could've been a totally different outcome. Dirk Kuyt had a hosts of chances to put Liverpool in the driving seat but his finishing was once again a suspect while David James was constantly tested yet stood firm.

Portsmouth did well to neutralise Liverpool's attack while they themselves did carve out one rare chance for themselves which was probably the best chance of the game.

Gary O'Neill's late run from midfield caught the Liverpool defence static and with only Reina to beat, his shot hit the Spanish goalkeeper's leg and missed a wonderful chance to put the team from south coast ahead.

First half was fast and furious as Liverpool pressured Pompey high up the pitch and David James was nearly caught out by the alert Ryan Babel, who pounced on the goalkeeper's poor first touch but was unable to capitalise.

As the match wore on players started to tire out and fatigue seeped in. The game lost its pace and rhythm despite fresh legs brought on from both sides. It was probably due to the marketing campaign in which the players had to embark on as an ambassador from the club.

It's always disappointing to lose a game but it's a friendly cup game after all. Still, there are room for improvement and finishing is one such aspect which Rafa Benitez will have to look into.

Martin Tyler commented about he can't see where the goals are coming from and that's probably one big reason why we're struggling in the league.

But there are some promising performance from Momo Sissoko, Steve Finnan, Jermaine Pennant and Xabi Alonso. Sissoko's energy, passing and movement for this game is excellent and probably silenced those obnoxious 'fans' who booed him on Tuesday.

Xabi Alonso's passing has been up to the mark in recent friendlies and hopefully bringing his form into the upcoming Premiership season. Finnan is solid as ever on the right back position while combining well with the player ahead of him, Jermaine Pennant.

It's probably a disappointing outcome for most Liverpool fans there but probably, success comes off the field with all the media spotlight and attention all on the club. As Liverpool embark on a new journey towards winning the Asian market, the tour could prove to be invaluable in the days ahead.

One small step but it could mean something big regardless of the results on the pitch.


Elia said...

I had a feeling Torres would miss his penalty.It was a pretty weak shot.I wish Lucas would've gotten in the game earlier.Anyways champions aren't made in the preseason.


Me too actually. It just has got the look on his face.

Sad to say I think he'll struggle early on in the season like Peter Crouch. Just got the feeling.