Saturday, 27 October 2012

Liverpool v Anzhi Makhachkala

A busy few days for Liverpool began with the hosting of Russian league leaders Anzhi Makhachkala before Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton.

Rodgers went for experience over youth which would hopefully see success rather than the failure against Udinese.

Anzhi are well known because of the might of their team with Samuel Eto'o, Christopher Samba and Yuri Zhirkov all famous faces over here.

Liverpool looked hungrier from the start as in the opening 10 minutes, Suarez had nutmegged two Anzhi defenders before sliding through to cross but sadly over hit it before latching on to Assaidi's cross only to hit his shot directly at Vladimir Gabulov in the Anzhi goal.

Glen Johnson tested Gabulov on 21 minutes with a well taken shot from inside the area and Suarez setup Shelvey with an easy chance but Shelvey shot first time and saw the shot fly into the stand.

The build up to the game saw a big focus on  Eto'o but in the first half he was kept quiet and surprisingly by 19-year-old Andre Wisdom who worked like he was a veteran of the game like his attacker.

Anzhi ended the half with a chance from Feodor Smolov with an ambitious 35-yard shot which flew wide and that was that for the half.

Half-time brought a change for Liverpool, as Raheem Sterling replaced Johnson, and Downing dropped to full-back. Skrtel had a chance to open the scoring but Gabulov despite spilling the ball kept the scores level.

The deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute as Stewart Downing danced in from the left to unleash a stunning shot from 25 yards which flew into the corner of the net and caused Anfield to erupt.

His goal was his second in the competition after another stunner against FC Gomel and also has three assists, a far stretch from the man who last season was the critics' whipping boy.

Anzhi would have levelled in the 70th minute but were denied by Brad Jones as Eto'o tested him but from too close a range to trouble him.

Joe Allen came on for Shelvey for the final 10 minutes as Anzhi continued to push for an equaliser but Agger thought he had sealed the game after heading the ball out of Gabulov's hands to then volley home only to be booked for his effort as the header was an illegal offence (as of 1990).

The whistle went and Liverpool had secured a deserved victory, a win made even sweeter by the news that Udinese had lost 3-1 in Bern to Young Boys which meant Liverpool went from 3rd to top of the group and brimming with confidence ahead of the visit to neighbours Everton at the weekend.