Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan

From the ridiculous to the sublime? It seems hard to predict which Liverpool team is going to show up on any given occasion these days, although it must be said we do seem to turn on the style in the Champions League rather more often than when battling lower division domestic opponents.

The visit of Italian league leaders Inter was always going to be a test, but I was pleased at our dominance. Even for the first 30 minutes, we had the majority of the play, and then the game was totally turned on its head by the sending off of Materazzi, for two bookable offences on Torres. I have to admit, both bookings seemed a little harsh but, on the other hand, he was stupid - both times he seemed to needlessly go for Torres rather than the ball, even when on the first occasion Torres didn't seem to be going anywhere and in the second case there was plenty of cover.

If we're going to go on about the referee's decisions, whether or not the red card was lucky, Vieira was very fortunate not to concede a penalty for handling in the area (after Inter had already survived two ball to hand shouts that could have been given). Obviously 11 v 10 changed the game, with Inter then happy to adopt a 4-4-1 formation and play for a draw. I'm not actually sure this suited us. We've seen before this season how Liverpool still struggle to break down massed lines of defence, so an open game might have been better.

Nonetheless, the numerical advantage allowed us to attack almost all-out, with the full backs providing plenty of width, and stretch the Inter defence. Eventually the ten men succumbed to two late goals - first a deflected effort from Kuyt (about time he got some luck - now two in two, he can't stop scoring) and Gerrard. A 2-0 lead sets us up nicely - I'm not going to count chickens; something similar (like a red card) could go wrong for us, so it's no time to get complacent. Let's not forget that in our only previous meeting Inter over-turned a 3-1 deficit with a 3-0 win in Milan (albeit helped by dodgy officiating). Nonetheless, with Inter needing to score in the San Siro, we should be able to nick an away goal which would leave them needing four. We're definitely in a good position to progress, provided we continue to play like this.

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