Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Carragher Bids Farewell On A High

An emotional farewell by Jamie Carragher in his 737th and final game for Liverpool saw a victory over QPR end his glittering seventeen years courtesy of a super strike by Philippe Coutinho.

A surprise entry on the final team-sheet was 17-year old Jordan Ibe who has impressed in the youth ranks this season and will hope to repeat the feat of one Michael Owen who's debut on the final day in 1997 began an amazing career which incidentally came to an end today as he retired at Stoke.

Liverpool came out of the blocks quickly as Coutinho was unlucky to be denied a goal by the official as he connected to a Downing corner with a header which appeared to cross the line but appeals were ignored.

As has been a tradition recently, Coutinho was the driving force for Liverpool and set himself up in the 18th minute as he evaded a challenge with ease before sending a shot wide of the post but he avenged the wayward shot with a stellar strike five minutes later as a cool assist by debutant Ibe saw the Brazilian waste no time in unleashing a 25-yard bullet that flew past Green and into the corner to send Anfield wild.

Liverpool pushed for a second as they maintained their pressure on the already relegated QPR and a surging run by Johnson saw him lift a left footed chance over the bar while QPR had a chance via Townsend from long range which blazed wide of the target.

A good debut for Ibe nearly became great as he swished down the left and aimed a bullet of a shot that flashed narrowly across the face of goal and saw the Reds go into the break at 1-0.

Five minutes after the restart and Green was called into action as Johnson hit a strong shot which arrowed towards the top corner forcing a improvised palm from the England stopper.

One dream that everyone in Liverpool red had in their mind was a Carragher goal in his final match and only the upright of the post denied the dream as an uncharacteristic screamer of a shot from the legendary number 23 agonisingly crashed back from 25 yards out to deny him a magic farewell.

Ten minutes to go and Suso stung the palms of Green from a tight angle only for the rebound to go to Downing who's goalbound shot was duly blocked.

As the end approached, Anfield saw a standing ovation as the stalwart Jamie Carragher was replaced by Sebastian Coates to bring an end to his amazing career as he bid farewell to Anfield for the final time before retiring to go into a media career for Sky Sports next season.

As the final whistle went, Liverpool had secured the win to end the season on a high and send Carragher off on a high as the future looks bright for the club with the hero again being the 20-year-old Coutinho who with Sturridge has turned the fortunes of the club around in recent months and makes many wonder how the season would have gone had they both been signed last summer rather then midway through the campaign.

Hopefully, I will sign off 2012/13 with a review and compilation of my magnetised scores within the week so watch this space....

Sturridge Treble Stuns Cottagers

Daniel Sturridge's first hat-trick for Liverpool proved the catalyst for a 3-1 victory over Fulham in the penultimate game of the season despite a superb goal by Berbatov.

Liverpool started well and Coutinho was the instigator of two good chances, the first saw an exchange between him and Shelvey which saw the England U21 midfielder drill a shot at goal only to have it blocked and the Brazilian tried with a solo effort.

The pressure continued as Sturridge had a good sight at goal but the chance was rushed and the ball slipped past the far post but as Liverpool were dominating possession, Fulham broke the deadlock just after the half-hour as the unmarked Berbatov latched onto an exquisite cross from Riether with a cool header into the corner past Reina.

Fulham's lead lasted barely three minutes as Liverpool equalised via a careful but concise pass from Wisdom found Sturridge and he swished past Hughes easily before a pinpoint strike past the ailing Schwarzer sent the 'travelling Kop' wild as it hit the roof of the net.

After the break, Liverpool came out firing on all cylinders as after Enrique replaced Wisdom - he curled in a crisp cross for Sturridge who met it well but the resulting header soared over the bar.

As the hour approached it seemed more likely for Liverpool to score than Fulham and as Coutinho hit a sharp shot, it deflected into the path of Sturridge who made no mistake in slotting a side-footed chance past Schwarzer to give his side a 2-1 lead. The lead could have been by three within minutes but two expert saves from Schwarzer denied Sturridge his hat-trick.

Fulham had a great chance to equalise from a corner as Hughes met the cross with a glancing header aimed at the far post and a textbook palm from Reina prevented an excellent leveller which could have soon been cancelled out by Borini, who came so close to matching his substitute heroics from the Newcastle game as he raced clear before smashing a shot that cannoned off the post followed by a good save from Schwarzer to keep the score at 2-1.

Liverpool sealed the win with five minutes to go as the lethal combination of Sturridge and Coutinho struck again as a super pass from the Brazilian playmaker found the England striker who lifted the ball over the onrushing Schwarzer and into the empty net to secure a well deserved three points for his side.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Merseyside Derby Ends In Stalemate

After a crushing win over Newcastle,Liverpool were forced to settle for a goalless draw against Everton after a tense Merseyside derby at Anfield.

On a day that was Jamie Carragher's thirtieth and final Merseyside derby, Liverpool failed to secure a vital win that would have closed the gap on their city rivals.

Liverpool started the better as Sturridge sent a half-volley wide from 20 yards out but despite that opening it was Everton who came closest to opening the scoring as Fellaini met a free-kick in the 17th minute with a volley which inched past the post.

On the half-hour, only a superb intervention by Jagielka prevented Gerrard from breaking the deadlock as after controlling a Downing cross, Henderson created a chance for the captain which found a strong block.

Jagielka denied Liverpool again as Sturridge failed to control a pass which found its way to Coutinho and he burst into the box but a last-ditch tackle by the centre-back cleared the danger.

After the restart, the combination of Sturridge and Coutinho came close to a crucial impact as a defence splitting pass gave Sturridge a view at goal but as he attempted to go round Howard, the Everton stopper anticipated the move and quelled the attack.

Everton found the back of the net on the hour mark but the goal was chalked off after Distin headed a corner past Reina but an obstruction in the area kept the score level. Coutinho came close after Johnson's cross from the right found no contact and strolled to the Brazilian but he drilled a shot that went straight to the arms of Howard.

Liverpool surged forward as Sturridge hit a nice pass to Gerrard but he went past Howard and from a tight angle created a chance which was cleared by the defence, both sides pushed for a winner and Agger failed to connect to a Gerrard free-kick before Anichebe hit the woodwork as the game neared the end. 

As the final whistle blew, both sides accepted that a draw was a deserved result as they took away a point each.Liverpool move onto face Fulham next week in their penultimate game of the season.