Saturday, 6 October 2012

Liverpool v Udinese

Back to the Europa League and Liverpool looked to make it two wins from two and keep up an unbeaten home European record which stretched back to 2009 vs Fiorentina.

Rodgers continued his trend of mixing youth and experience and Liverpool came close to a great start after only eight minutes as Assaidi threatened with a quick dart into the box, Shelvey shot from range and Coates failed to direct a header past Brkic.

Both sides pushed for an opening goal and Udinese had a chance in the 14th minute as Benatia troubled Reina with a header which the home keeper duly saved.

Shelvey's start to the season has been mixed with good scoring performances and the sending off against Manchester United but on 23 minutes, it was the positive side that appeared as he opened the scoring from a nice move which featured his fellow U21 teammates. Henderson fed Shelvey who then fed Downing and Downing surged into the box and supplied the cross for Shelvey to head home.

Liverpool from there dominated possession for the rest of the half and at half time went in happy with the lead. However as they began the second half, Udinese struck level within 30 seconds as sub Lazzari crossed for Di Natale who timed his run to perfection to slot the ball past Reina from 12 yards.

 Both sides pushed to create a lead and Liverpool looked to be pushing further with 25 minutes to go as the cavalry in Suarez and Gerrard entered the fray in place of Assaidi and Henderson.

A controversial incident came when Downing outpaced his marker with a darting run down the left only to be hauled down by Pinzi who received a booking though on replaying the foul, a red card would not have been a harsh decision. From the resulting set-piece, Suarez shot goal wards only to be denied by his own player in Shelvey who strangely cleared it off the line.

Liverpool's luck began to slip as their plan fell to pieces in two shocking minutes as an Udinese free kick looked to be going straight to Reina but was headed in by the unfortunate Coates on 70 minutes and was swiftly followed by an easy goal for Pasquale from range and left Anfield in stunned silence.

A lifeline did come in the 75th minute as Suarez looped in an exquisite free kick to put Liverpool one goal away from levelling from 25 yards out. He also had chances to level, first with a close range header and then with a near post save by Brkic.

Liverpool increased the pressure but Sterling saw his shot from 12 yards ricochet over and mean that the 100% start to the group stage was now over and Udinese had secured a vital win over Liverpool.

The group progress had been made a bit harder with Anzhi also winning with Liverpool still to travel to Russia and Italy which are tough to got to and win in most cases but will be harder with the added pressure of sitting third in the group.

Next up is Stoke, in which Liverpool will be hoping to secure a first home win of the season in the league and secure a back to back win coupled with the Norwich triumph.

Other Results on matchday two