Saturday, May 13, 2006

FA Cup Final

What a match. Of course, as a Liverpool fan, I never doubt our chances of winning unless we’re 4-0 down… I must apologise for doubting West Ham’s ability to play their part in a great final, because they really did. Admittedly, all their goals had a touch of luck (o.g., ‘keeper’s error and a cross that went in), but that’s not to take anything away from their performance. In a match where arguably only one of their big players really stood up, Liverpool never looked the odds-on favourites they’d been billed as.

In fairness, I don’t think Alonso was ever really fit, and that as much as the attention’s of Ashton (who I rate very highly) contributed to a poor game. Him and Kewell both being forced to leave the pitch early through injury hardly helped Liverpool’s cause, with Rafa’s tactical changes thereby forced upon him.

Some people I was watching with criticised Gerrard for coming infield too often, and thereby denying the team width. I agree, but with him scoring two screaming goals (and setting up Cisse’s) to drag us back into the match, one can hardly complain. He really did look like one man carrying the rest of the team on his shoulders…

By extra time, there were players dropping all over from cramp, and few could run. Riise had a good shot, Kromkamp made several runs (though he did little with the ball, one could defend him on the grounds he had few players in support) and Reina was forced into a great save at the death – redeeming himself for earlier mistakes, and recalling those semi finals against Chelsea last year (CL) and this (FA Cup), not to mention Dudek’s save from Shevchenko.

Penalties, of course, are always a lottery (remind me to give you my thoughts on that some time…) but Reina lived up to his reputation by saving three of West Ham’s four kicks, and the cup was ours. Two major trophies in two years is certainly a good return – and the Community Shield means we already have at least three meetings with Chelsea lined up for next season too, of course...


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