Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reds Held In Opener

Rafa's Men Lucky To Get Away With A Draw

UEFA Champions League



POR - Luiz Gonzalez (pen 8);

LIV - Kuyt (17min);

Liverpool were given a scare in their Champions League opener in Portugal as they only managed a draw. But under the circumstances Rafa's men were in, it was a good result for the Reds.

Yet it is lamentable how poor Liverpool were last night, at the Estadio Dragao, as they were never in the game from first to last. There was a lack of communication and team work on the pitch. The stray passes and the 2 shots on goal the entire night just tells you the story of 11 strangers on the pitch.

There was no fluency in the team throughout and Liverpool rarely threatened Porto's goal in open play. They were slow and sluggish from the start and it was to no surprise when Porto took an early lead in the 8th minute.

Seemingly, Liverpool concedes penalty at an alarming rate this season, with 4 penalties conceded in 5 games, which is very odd. But last night, the penalty was justifiable and that Pepe Reina clearly tripped Tarik Sektioui in the penalty area as Hyypia was slow on the turn to close down the striker.

Hailed as one of the best goalkeepers in the world prior to the game, Reina was given no chance for the penalty despite his mastery in saving spot kicks.

The spot kick was the fruit of Porto's relentless pressure on Liverpool right from the start of the game and the Liverpool defence were unable to cope with the strength of Lisandro Lopez and the pace of both Bosingwa and Quaresma.

Liverpool were truly awful throughout the entire game and never seemed to be able to put their foot on the pedal. Yet through a well practiced free kick, they got their undeserved reward through Dirk Kuyt.

Steve Finnan's deep free kick found Sami Hyypia, who headed the ball into the six yard box. It confused the Porto defence, who were unable to clear the ball and Dirk Kuyt was on hand to head home.

It was Liverpool's first wave of attack and they reaped the ultimate reward. But that was all from Liverpool, really.

Despite the half time team talk, Liverpool returned to the pitch still looking rather shell-shocked and didn't seemed to be able to get themselves in the mood. The strike force of Torres and Kuyt were pretty isolated up front on themselves, chasing for scrapes while the midfield was in disarray.

Gerrard wasn't in his inspirational best and was a peripheral figure in the middle throughout while Mascherano's passing was horrible at times. It was just so uncharacteristic from the duo that could've formed on the best midfield partnership in modern time.

Just when you thought playing Porto with 11 men is tough, try it with 10, says Jermaine Pennant. He foolishly slid in with a rash tackle that was totally unnecessary despite already carrying a yellow card.

With his patience tested, Lubos Michel gave him the marching order. It was to the horror of Pennant and the Liverpool bench as Rafa was clearly livid with the decision.

It was then Liverpool totally lost the stranglehold of the game and had to play along with Porto. Dirk Kuyt was slotted in the right midfield position, leaving Torres totally on his own upfront.

But Porto too, didn't strike when the iron is hot. They lost the rhythm and didn't threaten Reina's goal like they did in the first period. Home fans were obviously disappointed with the lack of ambition from them.

In the end it was a precious point gained by Liverpool as they were lucky to escape with it. The Estadio Dragao is a notorious ground where giants such as Inter Milan and ManYoo fell but yet Liverpool were able to get something out of it despite an uncharacteristic performance.

Such a disappointing and forgettable performance from the Reds to be honest. If they really want to win the competition, things must improve from the next game on. Marseilles at Anfield should be where the ball starts rolling.


Is This Betting said...

Thanks for the honest summary. Did not get a chance to see all the game last night as I'm based in Germany and my friend insisted on watching the conference channel (flips around from game to game). Seems like I did not miss much anyway

red-rum-lfc. said...

What a valuable point, especially from a below par performance.

And i have read stories about Portuguese football, and how they are all divers and play actors. From watching yesterdays match i can only agree. Absolutely shocking, and the referee, jeez, he didnt let ANYTHING go.

I also cant believe Rafa didnt take off Jermaine, it was clear for everyone to see, he was heading for a second yellow.