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Friday, 23 April 2010
ATHLETICO MADRID 1-0 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
Another big European tie for Liverpool which they might not have next season with their League position at present. This game was made even more difficult by the travel arrangements to get there this week caused by the flight ban, it really was a gruelling treck across Europe to get there, especially after playing against West Ham on Monday night, so just arriving the day before the game it was not ideal preperation but nevertheless they had to get on with it.
The team for me wasn't a surprise with the defensive line-up. Agger still having to deputise on the left due to no available left backs, two holding midfielders in the shape of Mascherano and Lucas with Benayoun on the left and Kuyt on the right, Gerrard playing further forward behind N'Gog.
Very lethargic start by Liverpool with some very slow play and lack of pressure on Athletico when they were in posession resulted in Athletico taking an early lead inside the first ten minutes. It was a really poor goal to lose with Johnson badly caught out of position and with Carragher pulled out of position trying to cover Forlan was left free in the middle when the cross came in Kyrgiagos couldn't cut out the cross and Forlan tried a horrible attempt at a header on goal only to head into the ground but still had time to get a shot in with no Liverpool defenders close only Reina got close half blocking Forlan's shot only to see it spin up in the air and past him into the net also past a desperate attempt by Carragher trying to clear on the line. Really was a terrible goal to lose especially so early on.
I started to fear the worst because Liverpool passing was amateurish they could not string three passes together and were giving the ball straight back to Athletico who were doing all the pressing without really creating much.
Liverpool were really not in the game at all you just felt the long journey to get there was affecting them although they would not admit it. Eventually they got one or two forays into the Athletico half one where Benayoun put the ball into the net only to see it flagged for offside, when replays showed he was onside. Gerrard was also unlucky when racing into the left hand side of the Athletico penalty box he hit a shot into the side netting, but the attacks were very rare, with N'Gog running a thankless task on his own up front with no support.
The second half wasn't much better although I felt Liverpool started to see a bit more of the ball but I felt it was a more rather to Athletico not being sure wether to go for a second goal or sitting on what they had. Athletico were still looking dangerous when going forward and I felt Reyes was causing all sorts of problems down the right really giving Agger a torrid time, his diving and play acting did let him down badly though.
Reina made a couple of really good saves in the second half keeping Liverpool in the tie, the first one was world class when a shot that seemed to be heading into the top corner from close range was brilliantly palmed away and over the bar by Reina. The second one, was a fierce long range shot hit low to Reina's right which he did well to block, but this time he was helped by the alert Carragher who cleared the rebound. A bit of late pressure in the last couple of minutes made it a nervy finish especially with the late goals conceded in Europe already this season, but Liverpool managed to hang on and will feel confident of turning this tie around at Anfield.
Despite the defeat I was relatively satisfied with the result when I feared it could have been a lot worse with the start we had. I do believe the travelling did have an effect on the players shown by their lethargy on the park. The passing was really poor at times from Liverpool giving posession away too often. I felt sorry for N'Gog getting no service and no support. Mascherano played well lucky not to pick up a booking from a series of fouls. Gerrard flirted in and out of the game creating some good things when he got in the game. Agger had a nightmare given a roasting from Reyes all night just couldn't get near him. Reina kept us in it once again with a couple of great saves. Carragher kept it tight at the back, unlucky at the goal. But I think we can turn it around at home against this Athletico defence which when we did go forward didn't look too clever.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Not for the first time this season I have to say Reina, really kept us in this tie with a couple of great saves and unlucky at the goal.
Posted by james walker at 03:07