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Monday, 25 April 2011
LIVERPOOL 5-0 BIRMINGHAM CITY MATCH REPORT
Well this match had more importance for me than for most supporters or people connected with Liverpool, it was my first trip to Anfield since Nigel Clough and Neil Ruddock made their debuts for Liverpool, so I was so excited to be at Anfield for this one with my lovely wife Lorraine and my daughter Rachael and my youngest son Kyle who was attending his first football match.
With good recent form going into this match Liverpool were hoping to end this bad run against Birmingham of having not won for 7 years against them. This seasons Carling Cup winners would be a tough team to beat as they have become a bit of a bogey team for us. But this renewed confidence around the club in recent times has raised our expectations once again no matter who we are playing. But I was expecting a very tight game in this one with hopes of a narrow win.
Liverpool have been decimated with injuries in recent weeks especially in defence and so it was pleasing that Carragher was declared fit to play after being stretchered off last Sunday against Arsenal. But bad news that Andy Carroll was unfit to play meant Maxi coming into the side for the first time since the Manchester United victory in early March.
A continued run in the team for youngsters Spearing, Flanagan and Robinson making his first start for Liverpool at left back. So Dalglish is getting a good chance to see what his squad is made of with all these injuries.
Liverpool started the match well and pressed Birmingham back from the start and got their reward with an early goal in the 7th minute when Jay Spearing hit a stinging drive from the edge of the box which Foster spilled and the alert Maxi was first to react to fire the ball into the net at the Kop end giving Liverpool a great start.That goal meant that Liverpool had scored in 16 consecutive Premier League matches , the best run of any side in the division this season.
Birmingham responded from this early setback with Gardner hooking over from close range and then Flanagan having to make a great defensive header from a dangerous cross. But on 23 minutes Reina's long clearance was flicked on sending Suarez through on goal but Foster did well to save his bundled effort only to react quickly to block from Kuyt's follow up effort but luck deserted him when a third attempt from Kuyt was swept into the net doubling Liverpool's lead.
Liverpool were dominating proceedings and Meireles almost added a third from a low Maxi cross but his effort was well blocked a sliding Larsson. Lucas had a long range effort seemingly hitting Carr on the hand but referee Webb waved away Liverpool's appeals for a penalty.
Birmingham were dealt another blow when goalkeeper Foster had to be replaced 5 minutes before half time after failing to shake of the injury he sustained in the lead up to Liverpool's second goal. Just before half time Kuyt glanced a Meireles' free kick just wide.
Birmingham came out strongly at the start of the second half but Suarez had the first real chance firing a free kick just over the bar from the edge of the Birmingham penalty box. Birmingham tried to get themselves back into the match without really threatening but there hopes were crushed when Liverpool scored a third in the 66th minute when Suarez sprung the offside trap before chipping a clever cross to the back post to Maxi who side footed a volley into the net giving him his second for the day.
With Liverpool rampant now they scored a fourth seven minutes later giving Maxi his hat-trick when he hit a shot from the edge of the box which was parried by Doyle before eventually being re-directed to Maxi who made no mistake in scoring from close range and giving him a perfect day.
The icing on the cake for Liverpool was a fifth goal from substitute Joe Cole who had his shot deflected by Jiranek beating Doyle at his near post with time running out. It was a terrific performance by Liverpool especially with so many players unavailable , and to score so many goals against a stubborn Birmingham side was very impressive.
I couldn't have wished for a better game to make my long awaited return to Anfield. I would have settled for a 1-0 scoreline but this was emphatic. It really was an impressive performance with some really good football played by Liverpool and an obvious confidence in the team with everybody wanting the ball. The hunger and workrate shown by the players is encouraging even after the game was settled as a contest the players were looking for more goals which is the way us Liverpool fans like it.
The youngsters are not looking out of place at all as Flanagan and Robinson having us looking very solid wide in defence. Spearing is forming a good partnership with Lucas in the middle and I was very impressed with seeing Kuyt and Suarez first hand, their workrate is superb and Maxi just had a superb game being rewarded with a stunning hat trick. It was just a memorable day for more than just me and Maxi. Bring on the next game.
Man Of The Match - Maxi - had to be with his 3 goals but he did so much more. Great return to the team.