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Friday, 17 September 2010
LIVERPOOL 4-1 STEAU BUCHAREST MATCH REPORT
Another European night for Liverpool with the first match in the Europa League group stages against Romanian's Steau Bucharest. Only 25,000 watched the match, the lowest crowd at Anfield for ten years. But in this modern climate it is so expensive for supporters nowadays and the rain was pouring down at the start of the match. With one eye on Sunday's match there was always going to be changes by Hodgson.
As expected Hodgson changed the team around for this match but I was surprised by how many. Steau has a great pedigree in Europe and I was worried our team wasn't strong enough to win this with the likes of Gerrard, Torres, Carragher, Johnson, Poulsen, Jovanovic, Skrtel and the injured Kuyt not selected.
However I was pleased to see Cole back and young Kelly and Spearing starting. Babel, N'gog, Meireles and Kyrgiakos coming back into the team. It was a good chance for these players to impress the new manager.
What a start for Liverpool and Joe Cole netting his first Liverpool goal on 26 seconds when a slack pass back to the Steau keeper let Cole in who finished clinically. It was just the start Liverpool were hoping for but Steau didn't panic and started knocking the ball about with purpose and equalising on 10 minutes when a lovely pass by Stancu sent Tanase clear and he finished a great Steau move and shocking Liverpool.
Steau grew in confidence and almost took the lead soon after with a great cross from the right was volleyed by the Steau striker which Reina made a great save from although fortunately it was flagged offside. Liverpool were finding it a lot more difficult now as Steau were passing well and certainly not playing for a draw, it was infact a good flowing match and when half time came you were left wondering who was going to win this match as it was so finely balanced.
I got the impression that Hodgson had strong words to his team at half time as Liverpool came out a different team. The tempo was a lot higher and Steau were camped in their own half and suddenly finding it hard to hold onto the ball. Cole was instrumental in everything creative and Steau were struggling to contain him as his early goal had obviously boosted his confidence. Liverpool eventually took the lead courtesy of a N'Gog penalty in the 55th minute after Kapetanos was harshly judged to be impeding Kyrgiakos as the ball came in from a Maxi corner kick, Kyrgiakos theatrically throwing himself to the ground. in the process. Taking the lead only encouraged Liverpool to attack more and there was no let up for Steau. The third goal was special, Lucas who only came on 3 minutes earlier scored a spectacular goal in the 81st minute striking a great shot from well outside the box into the top corner of Tatarusanu's goal, finishing the game as a contest.
To top off the night Liverpool added a fourth when N'Gog scored his second of the night after working space for himself on the edge of the box and striking a powerful shot low into Tatarusanu's goal. A great second half performance from Liverpool and Hodgson will be pleased after resting so many regulars and winning the match.
A great night for Liverpool as Hodgson rested so many regulars and still came away with a convincing win. A difficult first half after a great start with Cole's early goal as Steau kept the ball well and Liverpool struggled to create. But the second half was tremendous, a different team came out for the second half as Liverpool pressured Steau for the whole half. Great goal from Lucas and great to see N'Gog scoring two goals, a great confident penalty from the youngster which came at an important time in the match. Joe Cole was superb, he created so much and finding great space which utilised well, great to see him back. Some great performances Kyrgiakos, solid as usual and won the penalty, young Spearing worked his socks off and played really well, Meireles made some good passes and looks another attack minded player, Konchesky and young Kelly were solid at either side of defence and great to see N'Gog keeping up his great scoring record. My only concern was Babel, he never got into the game and I thought this was a great chance for him to shine so he remains a fringe player. But overall a great night and result from Liverpool.
Man Of The Match - Joe Cole He gave everything and created so much, great first goal and great to see him back.