Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liverpool 1-0 Standard Liege (AET)

Well, I think we knew after the first leg that this wouldn't be easy. I expected it would either go one of two ways - either they'd be over-awed, concede an early goal and fall apart (losing something like 3-0) or, more likely, it would go all the way, in which case I feared that - particularly with an away goal, they might nick it.

As it turned out, there was only a single goal in it (1-0, not 2-1: the mistake is's as the BBC site has it right) and it took 117 minutes on the night. We'd again had Reina to thank for a couple of good saves as, while we managed to dominate possession it was probably Liege who enjoyed most of the clearer chances.

Tonight we seemed devoid of shape and ideas, which has been something of a problem all season (not that that's very long). As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, I was reminded that we have yet to score in the first 80 minutes of any of our four competitive fixtures this season (though we have now scored four goals after that point!) In this game, things were a bit different because, although we pressed, the risk of an away goal made it too dangerous to throw everything forward: extra-time seemed safer.

Again, the commentators go on about our lack of width. It seems we're closing in on signing Riera, who at least should provide some natural width - I only hope he proves more effective than Nunez or Gonzales (and let's not forget we have another winger denied a work permit). I do think the return of Mascherano will help as well, giving us more balance in centre midfield and allowing the full-backs more licence to get forward.

Anyway, the goal when it finally game tonight involve Babel running at his full-back and then I thought the chance had gone as he had to cut back to cross with his right foot - nonetheless he was able to sent the ball over to the far post for Kuyt, playing his 100th game for the club, to slot home (when the full-back really should have cleared). It was no doubt a cruel blow for Liege, but whatever one might think was deserved over the previous 207 minutes of the tie, it's worth pointing out that we were denied what seemed a fairly clear penalty just moments before when El Zhar was felled in the box.

At the end of the day, we haven't always been convincing during CL qualifying (even in 2004-05 we only scraped through, beating Graz AK 3-2 on aggregate, before going on to win in Istanbul), but what matters is being in tomorrow's draw. Credit to Liege though - they're a side with plenty of good young players, and I'm sure bigger clubs will be after several of them after these two matches.

1 comment:

  1. Christ Liverpool were awful last night. I wasted two hours of my life watching that game.