Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Sterling Effort At Turf Moor

The packed festive period continued yesterday as Liverpool travelled to face Burnley at Turf Moor with the Clarets eager to get out of the bottom three and extend their recent good form.

The Reds fielded the same starting eleven from the Arsenal draw but there was a surprise inclusion on the substitutes bench in the shape of  17-year-old Academy starlet Sheyi Ojo who was included after a run of great performances for the U19's.

Liverpool looked to get off to a good start and came close inside five minutes as Raheem Sterling looked to test Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal after a well-worked counter attack but sadly could only hit an effort past the far post.

The home side responded well and had a chance of their own in the 15th minute when Danny Ings found space to connect to a throw in before driving a shot at goal only to see it cannon against the post.

Brad Jones' afternoon was cut short as he left the field with a knock just a minute later with Simon Mignolet entering in his place and hoping to silence the critics after a run of poor form but could only watch as Ashley Barnes headed over the bar from a Dean Marney cross.

Liverpool did cause a threat though on the half hour mark as Steven Gerrard swept a pass to Adam Lallana but despite finding some space, the midfielder saw his eventual effort blocked by Heaton. Burnley came achingly close to breaking the deadlock when a clearance from Mignolet fell for Scott Arfield who looked to volley into the bottom corner only to be denied by a superb block from Lucas.

The home fans were off their feet again when George Boyd headed at goal but in despair as the effort narrowly missed the target in the last chance of the half which signalled a chance for Liverpool in the second period as Emre Can replaced Kolo Toure.

There was no instant impact from the chance but the momentum began to build and just two minutes after the hour mark, the visitors broke the deadlock as a superb piece of control from Phillipe Coutinho led to him scooping the ball over his own shoulder and perfectly into the path of Raheem Sterling who collected the ball before rounding Heaton and firing into the net.

After earning a brilliant assist, Coutinho came close to scoring himself as he displayed stellar skills in outfoxing three Burnley defenders before aiming for goal and seeing his effort deflect off target before making way for Rickie Lambert later on. Lambert went one better than his teammate by putting the ball into the net but to his dismay saw the effort chalked off for offside as Liverpool held on for a vital away win.

10 Man Reds Deny Gunners

A tough festive schedule for Liverpool continued with the visit of Arsenal on Sunday afternoon in a game that will live long in the memory for both positive and negative reasons.

Liverpool continued the 3-4-3- setup from the defeat to Manchester United and started the better of the two sides with Steven Gerrard curling a free-kick over the bar in the third minute before Adam Lallana shot over in the 12th minute.

Mamadou Sahko came closest to scoring for the home side as he headed past the post after connecting to a corner before Arsenal responded with an effort from Olivier Giroud which went straight at Brad Jones.

A long range effort from Philippe Coutinho on the half hour was taken well by Wojciech Szczesny who was called into action again just five minutes later after Lazar Markovic raced into the box and tested the Gunners 'keeper.

Liverpool looked to be going into the interval in front when a superb run from Raheem Sterling resulted in him picking out Phillipe Coutinho on the edge of the area who turned and fired the ball past Szczesny to open the scoring. However, Liverpool's defensive frailties haunted them as Arsenal levelled in the final seconds of the half with a free-kick from Alexis Sanchez headed on in the box by Mathieu Flamini into the path of Mathieu Debuchy who headed in at the back post.

Both sides had reasonable chances early in the second half with Coutinho blazing over from a free-kick before Santi Cazorla hit a similar effort over for Arsenal. A long delay came in the 50th minute when an Arsenal attack resulted in a tangle between Olivier Giroud and Martin Skrtel with the Liverpool defender suffering a head injury.

After the five minute delay, Skrtel was stitched up and bravely played on as Liverpool looked to retake the lead just after the hour mark but a Raheem Sterling run and Steven Gerrard cross saw Wojciech Szczesny beaten but failed to result in a goal.

Arsenal countered with Giroud hitting wide of the target before redeeming himself just two minutes later by connecting to a clever square pass from Santi Cazorla and hitting the ball through he legs of Brad Jones to put the visitors in front.

The change in fortunes saw Liverpool bring on Fabio Borini in place of Lazar Markovic to try and draw level and the equaliser came so close to appearing in the 75th minute as Jordan Henderson found the path of Lucas who manoeuvred into the area and saw his shot slip agonisingly past the post.

Fabio Borini looked to make an impression after seeing a headed effort tipped over by Szczesny in the 86th minute as he hit for goal again just two minutes later only to have his chance parried to safety by the Arsenal 'keeper. A huge nine minutes of added time as put on the board and Liverpool looked to level early into it as Raheem Sterling forced a clever save from Wojciech Szczesny.

However, Liverpool's momentum suffered a blow as Fabio Borini received his second booking in as many minutes after a yellow card for dissent was followed by a second for raising a foot in a challenge.

The last time Liverpool went down to 10 men against Basel earlier in the month, their performance didn't stutter and they levelled late on despite exiting the Champions League. This time around the same spirit was apparent as in the seventh minute of added time they did draw level as Martin Skrtel superbly met a Gerrard corner and headed past Szczesny to the joy of the home fans.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sterling Double Sours Cherries Hopes

After a bad result away to Manchester United at the weekend, Liverpool travelled to face Championship leaders Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup quarter final on Wednesday night.

Brendan Rodgers stuck with Brad Jones in goal while the return of Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini saw them both named among the substitutes as the Reds looked secure a place in the last four and edge closer to a trip to Wembley in March.

The home side started the better which was no surprise given Liverpool's mixed away form and the Reds could have gone 2-0 down early on with a Adam Smith forcing a block from Martin Skrtel before Callum Wilson wasted a superb chance seconds later as he hit narrowly past the post.

Liverpool responded with a duo of chances from Adam Lallana with the midfielder forcing former Southampton teammate Artur Boruc into a superb tipping save before sending a shot wide of the post in the space of seven minutes.

Lazar Markovic has had limited chances this season to live up to his £20m summer price tag but showed some real promise in the 20th minute with a weighted cross to the back post to the head of Jordan Henderson who picked out lone striker Raheem Sterling in space who arrowed the ball past Boruc to open the scoring.

Bournemouth were unable to mount a rapid response as they fell further behind just seven minutes later, Phillipe Coutinho tested Artur Boruc with a close range shot which drew a parry from the Cherries stopper and fell into the path of Lazar Markovic who fired into the net to claim his first goal for the Reds.

The Cherries could have pulled one back instantly when Simon Francis crossed for Yann Kermogant but to the dismay of the home crowd, the Frenchman blazed his effort high over the target before an effort from Dan Gosling was blocked well by Steven Gerrard just five minutes before the interval.

After ending the first half in good spirits, Bournemouth began the second half in a bad way as they were carved open by superbly skillful routine from Raheem Sterling, who danced through the Cherries defence before rifling the ball past a helpless Artur Boruc to extend the lead to three goals in the 51st minute.

Bournemouth bounced back with a superb effort of their own in the 57th minute as Dan Gosling, famed for a FA Cup semi final winning goal against Liverpool powered a shot at goal which looked to have been saved by Brad Jones. However, the Australian was unable to deny the Cherries midfielder as his attempted save failed to stop the ball nestling in the net.

Buoyed by gracing the scoreboard, Bournemouth looked to add a second notation as a deep cross found the head of Ryan Fraser but his effort travelled narrowly over the bar. Raheem Sterling came achingly close to a first senior hat-trick for Liverpool in the 67th minute as he latched on to a clever flick from Adam Lallana before dragging a shot wide of the post.

At the other end, Bournemouth should have made it 3-2 when Dan Gosling cannoned a shot at goal but his effort came back off the post and into the path of Matt Richie who blew a great chance with a shot wide of the target.

Bournemouth had another good chance in the 80th minute as Simon Francis looked to test Brad Jones from long range but could only send the ball past the post before Baily Cargill drew a strong save from Brad Jones with two minutes remaining as Liverpool held on for the win.

A fairly good performance from the Reds against a side who have high hopes of reaching the top flight and look good to do so this season while Liverpool will move their focus to tomorrow's huge clash at home to Arsenal at Anfield.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

United Triumph Over Rueful Reds

After a heartbreaking exit from the Champions League on Tuesday night, Liverpool made the trip to face fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Reds face a tough week with the League Cup tie against Bournemouth on Wednesday followed by a home game against Arsenal on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers made a few changes from midweek but the most staggering was the choice to start Brad Jones in goal at the expense of the struggling Simon Mignolet in a gamble that could have serious repercussions should the week end badly.

Liverpool made the better start and could have gone ahead in the 12th minute when Adam Lallana picked out Raheem Sterling in a good position. the young winger advanced on goal but could only hit a tame shot which David De Gea blocked well. United countered superbly with Antonio Valencia carving through the Liverpool defence before squaring to Wayne Rooney who fired past a helpless Brad Jones who dived the wrong way as the home side took the lead.

De Gea denied Liverpool from drawing level in the 18th minut with a good save from Steven Gerrard's effort from the edge of the area, Alberto Moreno found Sterling in the box minutes later but sadly his effort was denied by a close range save from De Gea. Liverpool seemed to be the better of the two sides in attack but went further behind just five minutes before the interval.

Ashley Young swept in a dangerous cross which took a slight touch off the head of Robin van Persie before finding Juan Mata who had ghosted in at the back post to head past Jones which was cruel for Liverpool as replays showed the midfielder had been clearly offside.

Liverpool's problems seemed to be a lack of potency when in on goal and this continued into the second half as Raheem Sterling's cross found Jordan Henderson whose header went over the target and even when a horror back pass from the United defence put Sterling in on goal, the young winger wasted the one-on-one with De Gea who claimed the ball.

United could have been 3-0 up in the 64th minute when Antonio Valencia arrowed a cross into the box which resulted in a heart in mouth moment for the Liverpool defence as Robin van Persie's shot crept past the post.

Liverpool's frustration in front of goal reached new heights when a nice move from Raheem Sterling saw him pick out Mario Balotelli who rifled a shot at goal only to see it tipped onto the crossbar by a fine save from De Gea. The stop from the United 'keeper proved to be decisive as four minutes later United wrapped up the points with a third goal.

Wayne Rooney broke down the left and swept in a cross which was poorly cleared by Dejan Lovren right into the path of Juan Mata who found Robin Van Persie superbly with the Dutchman firing past a helpless Brad Jones.

Liverpool continued to push for a goal even if in consolation but were again denied by De Gea who saved twice from Balotelli as the game ticked into the final five minutes, Brad Jones prevented a fourth goal for United when he performed a superb tipping save over the bar from a powerful effort from Robin van Persie.

Despite the 3-0 win, it was the United' keeper who was awarded man of the match for a superb performance that saw his side triumph with half as many shots on target as the visitors who now move on to a crucial cup tie away to Championship high-fliers Bournemouth.

Europa League Awaits Exiting Reds

Alike their last Champions League double header against Basel which saw Liverpool exit the competition with a draw nearly 12 years ago to the day, the Reds suffered a similar fate that will see them grace the Europa League early next year. 

Basel have proved to be a tough task for English opponents and Tuesday night was no different as they sealed qualification alongside defending champions Real Madrid while Liverpool face a tough unseeded drop into the Europa League joining city rivals Everton. 

Brendan Rodgers made four changes from the weekend with Joe Allen, Jose Enrique, Steven Gerrard and Dejan Lovren returned to boost the Reds hopes of reaching the knockout stages, the opening exchanges were bright from the home side but the Swiss side had the first real chance.

An attack saw Luca Zuffi look to threaten the Liverpool defence when he picked out Shkelzen Gashi but luckily for the home crowd, the shot went wide of the target. Gashi looked to be a good influence on the Basel attack and when he found Marco Streller, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel did well to block the Basel captain's effort. 

Liverpool's task suffered a blow in the 25th minute when Fabian Frei exchanged a one-two with Zuffi with the former collecting the return ball ans rifling a powerful shot into the bottom corner past a helpless Simon Mignolet. 

The lead could have been doubled when Streller drifted into space and swept in a dangerous cross which made its way to Fabian Schar who connected well but his effort saw an instant block from Jose Enrique. Basel looked to be going into the interval two goals ahead after Gashi connected to a pass through the Liverpool defence and hit past Mignolet before the effort was chalked off by the linesman.

Liverpool needed two goals without reply to advance and began the second half with two changes as Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno replaced Rickie Lambert and Jose Enrique, the two substitutes looked bright early on and led to the home side making a good start to the half. 

Basel responded with a good effort from Taulent Xhaka from close range but Liverpool were son in trouble when a run from Lazar Markovic saw him flick out a hand towards Behrang Safari and was controversially dismissed on the spot leaving the hosts with a mountain to climb on the hour mark.

The numerical disadvantage strangely seemed to help the hosts and Martin Skrtel had a good chance to level with a thunderous shot from long range which caused concern for Vaclik in the Basel goal before sailing past the upright. A clever combination between Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling in the 71st minute put Steven Gerrard in on goal with the Reds captain tumbling after Vaclik claimed the ball with the crowd appealing for a foul.
Liverpool had just 10 minutes to stage a miraculous turnaround and had a chance to begin the task when Schar committed a foul on the edge of his own area, Gerrard stepped up and swept a glorious free-kick into the net right in front of the euphoric Kop whose belief began to grow.
Just one more push from the ten men was needed to seal a superb comeback and when Moreno sprayed the ball to Henderson in the centre, the midfielder's header took a wild deflection before edging towards the line and being recovered at the last second by Vaclik, to the anguish of the home fans.
Liverpool continued to threaten the Basel backline with a number of shots in the final seconds but to no effect as they completed a poor campaign in the competition that saw them exit with just one win in six games.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunderland End Reds Run

After securing back-to-back victories in the league, Liverpool hosted Sunderland ahead of their crucial midweek Champions League tie against Basel.

Two notable changes saw Steven Gerrard and Javier Manquillo replaced by Alberto Moreno and Phillipe Coutinho while there were no strikers named on the bench with Fabio Borini left out possibly hinting to a selection in midweek.

A fairly tepid first half from both sides saw limited chances at goal with the first coming from Jordi Gomez who blazed wide in the 16th minute from a good position before Rickie Lambert headed over at the other end in the 23rd minute. Phillipe Coutinho had a great chance to open the scoring just two minutes later but his low shot was tipped wide by Costel Pantilimon.

Wes Brown had a good chance to send Sunderland into the interval ahead but could only head an effort over the bar from Seb Larsson's corner. The visitors started the second half in a the same vain as they ended the first as Jordi Gomez hit a strong shot which was deflected wide of the target.

Sunderland seemed the likelier to open the scoring and went close with two efforts in as many minutes, Seb Larsson swept in a free-kick which was cleared by Martin Skrtel before the resulting corner found Connor Wickham in space but he volleyed wide.

Liverpool had a number of chances themselves with Raheem Sterling blazing over after a clever run and a Jordan Henderson free kick sailing over the bar. Sterling seemed to be the shining light for Liverpool and he created a good opening in the 78th minute as a pacy run saw him find Phillipe Coutinho with the Brazilian's shot saved by Costel Pantilimon.

Steven Gerrard looked to make an impact but save his free-kick in the 80th minute saved easily by Pantilimon while Simon Mignolet was called into action a minute later to deny Jordi Gomez's powerful effort with a superb tipping save.

Neither side really did enough to deserve all three points so a draw was a fair result but Liverpool will need to be a lot better if they are to advance into the next round of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Three Lions Down Foxes

After securing a late win at home to Stoke at the weekend, Liverpool travelled to Leicester on Tuesday night looking for back-to-back wins.

Steven Gerrard returned to the starting 11 alongside Javier Manquillo with Glen Johnson switching to the left in place of the rested Jose Enrique but one thing that hadn't changed from recent outings was the better start of the opposition with Wes Morgan's tame header finding Mignolet in the fifth minute.

Liverpool had a good chance of their own in the seventh minute when Steven Gerrard swept in a free kick which drifted wide after connecting with Martin Skrtel, Jeff Schlupp had a good chance for the home side in the 18th minute which was deflected wide off Lucas.

Simon Mignolet has come in for a huge amount of criticism recently and did his cause no good when a stray pass found Esteban Cambiasso just on the edge of the box with the Leicester defender blowing an open goal by drifting the ball past the post.

Liverpool were caught out again just two minutes later when Leicester countered well from a Reds attack with Leonardo Ulloa powering an effort at goal from close range only to be denied by a goal-line clearance from Martin Skrtel. However, the ball remained in play and Leonardo Ulloa collected before hitting at goal and seeing his shot cannon off the post and in off the back of Simon Mignolet who was given the own goal.

Glen Johnson looked to draw Liverpool level but could only blaze over the bar from long range but just four minutes after going behind, the visitors were level after Lucas' cross into the box was met by a tame header by Wes Morgan with the ball drifting into the path of Adam Lallana who fired past Kasper Schmeichel to make it 1-1.

Martin Skrtel had a header blocked by Richie De Laet in the 33rd minute as the sides went into the interval on level terms but the equality lasted only nine minutes of the second half as a superb cross from Raheem Sterling was tamely cleared by Wes Morgan and straight to Steven Gerrard who rifled the ball past Kasper Schmeichel for 2-1.

After scoring an own goal at the weekend against QPR and in a way providing two assists for Liverpool on the night, Wes Morgan's evening got even worse in the 63rd minute when a chase for the ball with Rickie Lambert saw him pull back the striker in a perfect goal scoring position meaning he was given a straight red card.

Esteban Cambiasso had a good chance to level in the 74th minute before Steven Gerrard broke clear at the other end only to miss the chance to shoot when he collided with Kasper Schmeichel in the area but the referee deemed it as a 50-50 challenge and no foul was given.

However the Liverpool captain was influential in the next strong move as he swept in a clever cross to Raheem Sterling with an effort blocked by Kasper Schmeichel before the young winger squared the ball to Jordan Henderson who fired home for a 3-1 lead to surely wrap up the three points.

Leonardo Ulloa had a chance in injury time to try and reduce the arrears but saw his effort saved by Simon Mignolet ensuring Liverpool moved into eighth and just a few points outside the top four.  

Monday, 1 December 2014

Brave Johnson Ends Poor Run

After a late strike in Bulgaria denied only a second win of the group stage for Liverpool, they returned to domestic duties eager to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat as Stoke visited Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

In a surprise change later explained by Rodgers, Steven Gerrard had to celebrate the 16th anniversary of his debut on the bench as he and Javier Manquillo were dropped from midweek as Jose Enrique and Phillipe Coutinho came in to the starting eleven.

A fairly dull opening from both sides perked up with a clever move from Raheem Sterling looked to be promising but sadly he was unable to fins a teammate in the Stoke box with the first effort of the game coming in the 27th minute as a long range set-piece from Rickie Lambert narrowly cleared the bar.

Jose Enrique carved up an opening that came achingly close to finding Rickie Lambert before a corner deflected into the path of Martin Skrtel who sent a volley just past the near post and the home crowd rose in the 41st minute when Lucas looked to have been upended by Glen Whelan in the box but the referee was unmoved by the appeals.

Liverpool looked to make a good start to the second period and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 51st minute when Jordan Henderson outfoxed the defence with a pass that found Rickie Lambert who in turn found Henderson who aimed for goal and despite a deflection could only find the side netting.

Stoke threatened at the other end when Mame Biram Diouf connected to Bojan's pass but before attempting a shot on goal was denied by Simon Mignolet who had come off his line successfully and on the hour, Stoke went even closer as Bojan advanced on goal and unleashed a powerful effort which struck the post.

Liverpool responded through Raheem Sterling who sent an effort just past the post and Lucas went close minutes later after collecting a Sterling pass but could only find the palms of Begovic who was called into action again when Rickie Lambert hit an effort at goal.

Rodgers made a significant chance in the 75th minute as Steven Gerrard came on to mark 16 years since his debut for the club but the joy could have been soured when Mame Biram Diouf swept the ball towards goal only to be denied superbly by a goal-line clearance from Raheem Sterling.

The clearance proved to be even more important four minutes later as Liverpool took the lead, Rickie Lambert arrowed a header towards goal which beat Begovic but cannoned back off the crossbar and a rapid reaction from Glen Johnson saw him head the ball over the line while taking a blow to the head from a Stoke defender attempting to clear.

Finally something for the Kop to celebrate at the final whistle as Liverpool secured a first win in November that ends a horrendous run of form and will be a welcome three points ahead of a hectic December schedule.

Defensive Lapse Denies Reds Victory

After suffering a trio of defeats so far in the Champions League, Liverpool travelled to face Ludogorets knowing a fourth loss would damaged their hopes of advancing and potentially lead to a complete exit from European competition this season.

Their hopes suffered an early blow when a long range shot from Marcelinho saw Simon Migonlet parry horrendously into the path of Dani Abalo who fired past the Belgian to give the home side a lead inside two minutes.

Liverpool responded well and hit the back of the net themselves in the eight minute when a clever cross from Jordan Henderson caused chaos in the Ludogorets defence which allowed Rickie Lambert to take advantage and nod home past Stoyanov for his first European goal and second for the Reds in the space of four days.

Raheem Sterling looked to put his side ahead in the 29th minute but could only send an effort over the bar but he redeemed himself with style in the 37th minute as he teased a superb ball across goal which connected with the run of Jordan Henderson who swept the ball high into the net past Stoyanov to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead.

Both sides threatened with set-pieces before the hour with Steven Gerrard sweeping in a free-kick which drew a comfortable save from Stoyanov before Espinho sent his free-kick over the Liverpool crossbar.

Buoyed by his early goal, Rickie Lambert looked for a second as he arrowed a header towards goal which was blocked and fell to Jordan Henderson who fired over from close range but was relieved to be flagged offside after a superb chance to extend the lead went awry.

The England midfielder was involved again in the 71st minute when the duo of Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard found the former who forced a diving stop from Stoyanov who was called into action again just four minutes later to deny Raheem Sterling after a pacy run from the young winger.

Into the final minutes, Ludogorets began to pile on the pressure on the Liverpool defence and to the detriment of the travelling Kopites, it paid off in the 88th minute when Terziev found himself completely unmarked from a corner before heading past Simon Mignolet to secure a 2-2 draw and keep both sides in the hunt to qualify for the next round. 

Eagles Soar Past Reds

Liverpool's run of form went from bad to worse after they fell to a 3-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace who secured a second consecutive surprise after a stellar comeback in April's 3-3 draw which many believe ended Liverpool's title challenge.

However, it was the visitors who made a perfect start as Adam Lallana swept forward a superb pass to Rickie Lambert which the frontman collected and fired past Julian Speroni to claim his first Liverpool goal after just two minutes.

Crystal Palace fought back and soon drew level in the 17th minute when a superb shot from Yannick Bolasie cannoned back off the post and kindly into the path of Dwight Gayle who hit past a helpless Simon Mignolet for 1-1.

Both sides had chances to go in front just before the half hour with Rickie Lambert heading over Steven Gerrard's free kick before Yannick Bolasie forced a strong diving save from Simon Mignolet after a powerful effort from the edge of the area.

Bolasie seemed to be the driving for for Palace and was influential again in the 41st minute when he countered from a Liverpool corner and after combining with Jason Puncheon forced a corner with a strong shot which struck a Liverpool defender.

The Eagles had two good chances to take the lead early in the second half with Scott Dann's connection to a free kick finding the arms of Simon Mignolet before Martin Skrtel connected to a corner and shot at goal only to see the effort deflect wide off Rickie Lambert.

Glen Johnson swept in a dangerous cross in the 70th minute which Julian Speroni did well to take with Rickie Lambert advancing towards the ball but the visitors came even closer just a minute later as Javier Manquillo shot wide despite being wide open in front of goal.

Crystal Palace survived the pressure from Liverpool so well that they soon went ahead with Yannick Bolasie proving to be influential yet again as he raced down the win before squaring the ball into the path of Joe Ledley who fired past Simon Mignolet for 2-1.

The night worse for the visitors just three minutes later when Martin Skrtel conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Mile Jedinak curled the set-piece superbly past Simon Mignolet to surely wrap up all three points.

Liverpool's response came from a Steven Gerrard free-kick in the 85th minute but the Reds captain swept the effort over the bar from the edge of the area and that was that for the Reds who slipped to a third successive defeat.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Chelsea Seal Anfield Win

Liverpool's run of three games in a week ended miserably with a 2-1 defeat at home to unbeaten Chelsea who as a result sit 15 points ahead of the Reds ahead of the international break with Brendan Rodgers making sweeping changes from the midweek loss in Madrid.

Emre Can retained his place and could have made an instant impact inside the first minute when a shot at goal took a wicked deflection before going over the bar, the early chance served as a warning which Chelsea failed to heed. The German midfielder tried his luck again in the ninth minute and again his chance drew a wicked deflection but when the ball cannoned off Gary Cahill it sailed past Thibault Courtois to the joy of the home crowd.

However, Liverpool's lead lasted just five minutes as a lapse in defence saw Gary Cahill equalise after Simon Mignolet saved a John Terry header from a corner, Cahill tapped in the rebound which Mignolet looked to have saved but the goal decision system showed he had done so behind the line and so the goal was given.

Liverpool looked to have regained the lead in the 19th minute when Philippe Coutinho found Mario Balotelli but despite firing past Courtois in the Chelsea goal, the strike was denied by an offside decision but the Brazilian had a chance of his own when a clever run and shot drew a diving save from Courtois.

Chelsea came close to taking the lead with two chances from Eden Hazard late in the half both drawing saves from Mignolet who ensured the sides would go into the interval on level terms, Diego Costa had a superb chance in the 51st minute when he connected to Eden Hazard's cross with an overhead kick travelling over the bar.

Raheem Sterling looked to put Liverpool ahead after a mazy run into the box saw him force a good save from Thibault Courtois and Chelsea countered with Eden Hazard whose shot was blocked by Steven Gerrard.

Chelsea did get lucky though in the 66th minute when Cesar Azplicueta swept a cross in and drew a parry from Simon Mignolet with the ball falling to Diego Costa who fired past the Belgian to give the league leaders a 2-1 lead. Liverpool made a double change with Fabio Borini and Joe Allen replacing goalscorer Emre Can and Phillipe Coutinho.

Jordan Henderson looked to draw Liverpool level with a close range shot after a nice run and cross from Joe Allen but the shot deflected wide of the target another change saw Rickie Lambert replace Mario Balotelli. Liverpool were unfortunate not to be awarded a late penalty when Steven Gerrard's shot looked to have hit the arm of Gary Cahill but referee Anthony Taylor signalled play on.

Chelsea held on and moved clear at the top while maintaining their unbeaten record while Liverpool remained in seventh ahead of the three o'clock games.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Benzema Strike Downs Reds

Ahead of a tough clash against Premier League table toppers Chelsea, Liverpool travelled to face a Real Madrid side who bested them 3-0 in the reverse meeting.

Despite some criticism in the build-up to the match, Brendan Rodgers named a mixed strength side with Fabio Borini, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva all included which resulted in a strong substitutes bench containing Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.

It was no surprise that Madrid made the better start as James Rodriguez forced Simon Mignolet into a clawing save after a shot from ten yards away from goal before Cristiano Ronaldo aimed a chance towards the top corner but Mignolet was on form again to deny the Real striker with a superb stop.

However, the Belgian was powerless to prevent Real from opening the scoring in the 27th minute as a sweeping cross from Marcelo out on the left found Karim Benzema at the back post with the Frenchman finishing first time into the roof of the Liverpool net.

Real's confidence grew and Cristiano Ronaldo tried his luck from 30 yards out with a free-kick which was punched clear by Simon Mignolet before Marcelo began a move which saw him combine with Karim Benzema with the former volleying towards goal only to be denied by a stop from Mignolet.

Liverpool looked to respond early in the second half and created a move with Alberto Moreno finding Adam Lallana in space allowing the England midfielder to hit a snap-shot at goal which despite going wide, prompted a rise in atmosphere from the travelling Kopites.

Real bounced back and came close to scoring a second when a neat combination between Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema saw the former advance on goal but a superb block from Kolo Toure ended the move. Brendan Rodgers looked to change the game with a double change with Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling replacing Lucas Leiva and Lazar Markovic.

However, Real also boosted their attack with the introduction of Gareth Bale and the Welshman came close to a second strike for Real when he connected to Marcelo's pass but his effort rebounded back off the cross bar. Liverpool pushed to equalise and seal a draw but the illusive goal eluded them and meant Real secured a place in the knockout stages while Liverpool need to win both remaining games to have a chance of advancing.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Supersub Perez Downs Reds

After sealing a last-gasp win over Swansea in the Capital One Cup in midweek, Liverpool faced Newcastle in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off which saw a superbly observed minutes silence for Remembrance Day.

The Magpies made the better start of the two sides with Papiss Cisse claiming the first chance in the fourth minute when his shot at goal was deflected over by the Liverpool defence and from there the game seemed to quieten down until around the 28th minute mark.

Mehdi Abeid looked to test Simon Mignolet from a free kick in the 28th minute but was denied by the defence before his second attempt from a set piece came ten minutes before half time with the effort being deflected wide with Sammy Ameobi blazing over from the resulting corner.

Liverpool breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 37th minute when Glen Johnson headed off his own line after Papiss Cisse had connected superbly from a corner and the Reds responded well and could have gone into the interval ahead.

Steven Gerrard swept in a corner which found the head of Martin Skrtel who arrowed the ball towards goal only to see his effort sail past the post, Newcastle looked to start the second half as they had the first with Papiss Cisse looking to test Simon Mignolet but could only shoot over from a free-kick.

Mario Balotelli looked to threaten the deadlock with a free-kick of his won but saw his effort saved well by Tim Krul who was called into action again in the 57th minute when a powerful header from Phillipe Coutinho drew a tipping save from the Dutch stopper.

However, Newcastle mounted a superb attack in the 73rd minute and opened the scoring when Paul Dummett found the path of Ayoze Perez who hit past Simon Mignolet for his second league goal in the space of a week to put the Magpies ahead.

Liverpool could have fell further behind when a defensive error on the halfway line saw Remy Cabella break free and after a one-two with Ayoze Perez, he looked to test Simon Mignolet with the Belgian 'keeper saving superbly with his right leg.

Newcastle seemed the likeliest to score and they came close again when Moussa Sissoko swept in a dangerous cross which was strong enough to draw a save from Simon Mignolet but Liverpool's attacking frailties meant they slipped to a fourth league defeat of the season.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Lovren Heads Reds Into Last Eight

After claiming a first clean sheet in 18 attempts in the 0-0 draw at home to Hull, Liverpool hosted Swansea in the Capital One Cup fourth round with the Swans looking to complete a Merseyside double in the competition after dumping Everton out in the previous round.

Both sides made numerous changes from the weekend games with Liverpool notably naming Mario Balotelli on the bench while Raheem Sterling was rested meaning Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini started up front.

Liverpool started well and could have gone ahead after only five minutes as they were awarded a free-kick in a good position but unfortunately, Jordan Henderson's shot went over the cross bar before Lucas had a shot saved by Gerhard Tremmel just minutes later.

The hosts seemed to dominate the chances and how Phillipe Couthinho didn't have a hat-trick before the half-hour mark, only he knows after three good chances went awry. The Brazilian shot wide in the 13th minute before having a powerful shot saved by Tremmel in the 24th minute followed by him blazing over a chance in the 26th minute. 

Swansea responded and could gave gone ahead but for a superb save from Brad Jones who kept out Jefferson Montero's shot before Jonjo Shelvey looked to break the deadlock with successive free-kicks with the first cleared and the second drawing a superb tipping save from Brad Jones.

Liverpool started the second half well with Jordan Henderson and Phillipe Coutinho both testing Gerhard Tremmel before Baftembi Gomis forced a clever save from Brad Jones with a powerful header on the hour but it was a sign of things to come as Swansea went in front in the 65th minute.

Marvin Emnes ghosted into the box before rifling a shot across goal that sailed past Brad Jones to the joy of the travelling fans behind the goal as the Swans led 1-0 but Liverpool could have drawn level just four minutes later as Gerhard Tremmel tipped over a shot from Glen Johnson before the Swansea stopper denied Rickie Lambert with a palm save.

Rickie Lambert came close again with a powerful shot which deflected and forced Gerhard Tremmel into a vital save before Jordan Henderson blazed over with just six minutes remaining but Liverpool equalised in style in the 86th minute as Fabio Borini whipped in a cross which found Mario Balotelli who fired in at the near post to the delight of the Kopites behind the goal.

Extra time looked to be on the cards as the final minutes of the five added on ticked down but Liverpool were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the final minute after Federico Fernandez was dismissed for a challenge on Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian swept the set-piece towards the back post and found Dejan Lovren in acres of space with the Croatian heading past Gerhard Tremmel to the joy of the euphoric Kop as Liverpool secured a place in the last eight.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Reds Held In Hull Stalemate.

After suffering a midweek humbling at the hands of  Real Madrid, Liverpool returned to domestic duty in what was to be their second of three home games in the space of a week and with such a packed schedule, fitness is paramount so when Emre Can went down after six minutes, there was a major worry.

Luckily for the hosts, the young midfielder shook off the injury as Liverpool mounted the first real attack of the game which resulted in a corner that saw Steven Gerrard find Dejan Lovren who headed at goal only to be denied by a goal line stop from Ahmed Elmohamady

Liverpool had another good chance in the 13th minute as Mario Balotelli hit towards goal and was prevented from an opener by a superb save from stand-in Hull 'keeper Eldin Jakupovic. The atmosphere spiked minutes later when a Kop chant towards Hull manager Steve Bruce was met with a positively comical response.

After recent criticism about his effort, Mario Balotelli seemed adamant to quash the critics and when a back pass to Jakupovic looked to be too short, the Italian raced into the box to intercept only coming inches away from doing so but receiving a good backing from the home crowd.

Hull responded with Jake Livermore drawing a save from Simon Mignolet before Mo Diame shot wide but the travelling Tigers fans were close to celebrating just before half-time when a powerful shot from Tom Huddlestone deflected wildly off Martin Skrtel before creeping past the post.

A fairly quiet start to the second half saw the first real chance come in the 59th minute as Abel Hernandez drew a save from Simon Mignolet before a combination between Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard saw the Liverpool captain forced a superb save from Jakupovic who tipped the shot past the post.

Liverpool seemed to have the momentum and should have taken the lead in the 64th minute when a clever cross from Emre Can arrowed towards Mario Balotelli but a mistimed move from the Italian saw him fail to connect as the move broke down.

Hull looked to break the deadlock themselves and just minutes after coming on as a substitute, Sone Aluko forced a clever save from Simon Mignolet and Liverpool countered only to have the move break down on the edge of the Hull area as Jordan Henderson went down but the midfielder was booked for simulation.

Four minutes of added time meant there would be ample time for either side to strike a late winner and Liverpool came closest as Raheem Sterling drew a save from Eldin Jakupovic before the Hull 'keeper made a last-gasp save from Phillipe Coutinho as he tipped the Brazilian's 20-yard effort away to ensure a share of the points.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reds Schooled By Marvellous Madrid

The prospect of Liverpool v Real Madrid was always going to be a huge one but despite many references to the 100% record the Reds held over the Galacticos in the build-up, the following 90 minutes displayed a polar opposite.

Brendan Rodgers replicated the usual front three of Mario Balotelli, Phillipe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling in what would be a huge task against the defending champions who boasted a front six that value wise is terrifying at over £300m.

Real dictated the opening minutes and had the first good chance as Cristiano Ronaldo hit a shot which drew a comfortable save from Simon Mignolet before Liverpool responded with a chance from Raheem Sterling who forced a save from Iker Casillas.

Steven Gerrard looked to open the scoring with one of his textbook drives from range and forced a superb diving save from Iker Casillas as Liverpool looked to build momentum but Madrid fought back and after combining with James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo fired past a diving Simon Mignolet to give Real the lead.

Real looked to build on the lead and soon doubled it on the half hour mark when a pinpoint cross from Toni Kroos found the head of Karim Benzema who arrowed the ball past Mignolet to stun the Reds who were cursing their luck for a third time in the 41st minute.

A dangerous cross caused chaos for the Liverpool defence and allowed Karim Benzema to tap into an empty net after Simon Mignolet and Martin Skrtel had tangled and looking at being 3-0 down going into the interval, thoughts among some fans turned to an Istanbul-esque comeback in the second half.

However, the deficit could have been reduced in the final seconds of the half when Philippe Coutinho rifled a shot at goal which achingly cannoned back off the post leaving the hosts still with a three-goal deficit to turnaround.

A bizarre end to the half bemused both fans and viewers as Madrid defender Pepe looked to exchange shirts with Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, and event made even stranger when the Italian was taken off to be replaced by Adam Lallana which was later labelled as a tactical change.

Madrid continued their onslaught from the first half as James Rodriguez curled a shot over the bar before Ronaldo powered an effort at Simon Mignolet which drew a superb save from the Belgian, who was called into action again seconds later when a cross from Benzema found Ronaldo who hit at the Liverpool stopper.

Liverpool responded and a powerful effort from Raheem Sterling forced Iker Casillas to push the ball over the bar before a melee in the Madrid six-yard box saw both Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana flap at the ball but unable to hit the target as the ball drifted wide of the post.

Luka Modric looked to extend Madrid's lead with a shot from distance but found the arms of Simon Mignolet but Liverpool still had a duo of chances to claim a consolation with Glen Johnson's cross to the back post cut out by former Reds defender Alvaro Arbeloa before it could find Raheem Sterling and Emre Can blazed over with four minutes remaining.

The fact that Liverpool kept Madrid scoreless in the second half is a positive ahead of the reverse meeting in a fortnight but a failure to score is a negative but one last piece of luck came in the form of Ludogorets securing a late win against Basel which means they join the Reds and the Swiss on three points.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Reds Edge Five Goal Thriller

After going into the International break on a high, Liverpool looked to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they made the trip to face QPR in the first of seven games in 21 days.

The hosts looked to put an early mark on the game when they attacked through Charlie Austin inside three minutes but the striker's shot went high over the bar before he drew a superb stop from Simon Mignolet six minutes later after advancing on goal.

Liverpool were unable to clear their lines as QPR continued to pile on the pressure and only the width of the crossbar denied them from taking a 28th minute lead, Bobby Zamora broke forward and pulled the back into the path of Leroy Fer who hit for goal only to see the ball cannon off the crossbar.

The visitors failed to learn from the scare and were again lucky not to concede in the 34th minute as they were carved open again by a clever QPR attack as Zamora picked out Fer who headed against the bar resulting in a goal-line clearance from Glen Johnson as Liverpool survived.

Despite dominating the first half, QPR could have gone into the interval behind when Steven Gerrard turned the hosts defence before aiming a shot at goal that drifted just past the post before Mario Balotelli rushed a shot which went wide of the target.

Alike the first half, QPR made a bright start to the second as Sandro struck a powerful shot which forced a superb save from Simon Mignolet before Liverpool countered with Henderson blazing over at the end of a decent move.

Liverpool seemed to be more attack minded in the second half and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 55th minute as a clever run from Glen Johnson gave him space to shoot but his effort failed to trouble stand-in keeper Alex McCarthy who saved easily.

QPR countered well and came just inches from opening the scoring as Charlie Austin hit a shot across goal that beat Simon Mignolet but failed to trickle over the line but the miss was pale in comparison to the howler from Mario Balotelli on the hour mark.

Raheem Sterling picked out fellow England midfielder Adam Lallana who forced a good save from Alex McCarthy whose stop rebounded into the path of Mario Balotelli who blazed over with an empty net at his mercy.

However, Liverpool did break the deadlock in the 68th minute and very fortuitously as a quickly taken free-kick allowed Glen Johnson to sweep in a cross which struck the leg of Richard Dunne and beat Alex McCarthy to put the Reds ahead.

QPR looked to level and came close with two good efforts from Charlie Austin and Armand Traore which drew superb saves from Mignolet but the Belgian keeper was soon picking the ball out of the net as the hosts equalised.

Eduardo Vargas who had come on in place of Bobby Zamora in the 79th minute used his freshness to power through the Liverpool defence before completing a one-two with Charlie Austin and firing past Mignolet from close range.

The momentum was with the hosts and they came close to a superb turnaround as Charlie Austin crossed for Steven Caulker with the Rangers defender denied by a great block by Martin Skrtel, Liverpool staged a counter attack and Steven Gerrard picked out Phillipe Coutinho who sashayed through the hosts defence before side footing past McCarthy for 2-1.

However, QPR drew level in rapid fashion as straight from the restart they forced a corner which Leroy Fer crossed into the box before finding the head of Eduardo Vargas whose effort crept in at the near post to level the score at 2-2 with just seconds left of added time.

Liverpool broke forward through Raheem Sterling and having had a nightmare of an afternoon, Mario Balotelli awaited at the back post eager to score but saw Sterling's pull back find Steven Caulker whose momentum saw him hit the ball into his own net to seal the win for Liverpool in the most bizarre of endings.

A result which the Liverpool contingent agreed was undeserved given the superb performance by the hosts but with European champions Real Madrid visiting Anfield on Wednesday an improvement is rapidly needed by Liverpool to prevent a nightmare evening.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

England Stars Secure Narrow Win

After suffering a 1-0 loss away to Basel in the Champions League, Liverpool looked to bounce back domestically as they played host to West Bromwich Albion with the Reds line-up showing three notable changes from midweek.

Rickie Lambert was handed a first start since joining from Southampton in place of Mario Balotelli with Adam Lallana and Alberto Moreno included in place of Lazar Markovic and Jose Enrique and the best chance of the opening exchanges saw Steven Gerrard sweep in a free-kick which the Baggies defended well.

Craig Dawson attempted an overhead kick from 20 yards but failed to find the target while Rickie Lambert was unable to connect to a clever cross from Adam Lallana but the biggest chance came in the 18th minute as Martin Skrtel winged a pass to Rickie Lambert who powered a shot at goal only to be denied by a fine save from Ben Foster.

Simon Mignolet kept the sides level with just minutes before the interval with a five save after Saido Berahino had shrugged off pressure from Steven Gerrard and Dejan Lovren to hit a strong shot which the Belgian saved well but West Brom had a superb chance to go ahead as Sebastien Pocognoli swept in a superb cross but to the relief of the home fans, Saido Berahino was unable to finish with a headed effort which went over.

Liverpool responded well and went ahead just seconds before the interval as Adam Lallana pulled a one-two with Jordan Henderson before rifling a shot past a helpless Ben Foster to open the scoring and Liverpool began the second half well but were soon pegged back in the 55th minute.

A bright move from West Brom saw Saido Berahino collected a pass just 20 yards from goal and in attempting to evade a challenge from Dejan Lovren on the edge of the area, he went down and strangely a penalty was awarded despite the tackle clearly being outside the area. Berahino stepped up and slotted past Simon Mignolet for 1-1.

However, Liverpool were soon back in front on the hour as after Raheem Sterling looked to have been barged off the ball by Craig Gardner, he got up and found Jordan Henderson who propelled a shot into the left corner to the joy of the celebrating Kop.
A double change saw Glen Johnson complete his comeback from injury with Mario Balotelli also coming on and the latter came close to a rapid impact as he linked up with Henderson and Lallana to create a rasping volley that went just past the post.

West Brom looked to draw level as Chris Brunt swept in a cross which found Saido Berahino but the resulting headed effort found the welcoming hands of Simon Mignolet but the hosts were on the hunt for a third goal and a nice passing play between Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard, saw the former look to test Ben Foster but the strike lacked enough power to trouble the Baggies stopper.

However, Liverpool managed to hold on and record a first league win since August to send them into the International break on a high.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Reds Suffer Swiss Loss

After starting the group stage with a win over Ludogorets, Liverpool made the trip to Switzerland to face Basel in their first away game in Champions League since 2009.

The continuing absence of Daniel Sturridge meant a three pronged attack in the form of Raheem Sterling, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli but it took until the 18th minute for the attack of either side to make an impact.

Steven Gerrard swept in a dangerous free kick but could only find the Basel defence which cleared with ease and the ex-England captain had another chance from a free-kick just three minutes later and this time around beat the defence by could only find the arms of Vaclik.

Basel responded and could have gone ahead in the 23rd minute with an effort from Elneny whose powerful shot at goal could only draw a comfortable save from Simon Mignolet which was soon followed by a stray shot from Hamdoui which went wide of the target.

Liverpool continued to face heavy pressure from Basel with Serey Die testing Simon Mignolet with a strong shot which the Belgian saved well before his opposite number was called into action to save after a shot from Raheem Sterling. The Reds had a superb chance to go into the interval in the lead as Phillipe Coutinho swept in a dangerous free-kick which found the head of Dejan Lovren whose effort drew a strong save from Vaclik.

Basel started the second half the better of the two sides and threatened with a run and shot from Hamdoui which drew a parrying save from Simon Mignolet who forced a corner Basel opened the scoring from the corner with a dangerous cross causing chaos in the Liverpool area allowing Marco Streller to hit past Simon Mignolet for 1-0.

Mario Balotelli had two good chances to equalise just after the hour mark with a long range free-kick drawing a save from Vaclik with the defence denying Lazar Markovic's rebounded effort before the Italian blazed the ball over the bar from the edge of the area. A clever one-two between Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana saw the former look to test Vaclik but a tame effort was the result and the move broke down.

Liverpool continued to push for a leveller but to no amends as they suffered their first defeat of the campaign ahead of a tough double-header against reigning champions Real Madrid.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Jagielka Stuns Reds

Ahead of a tough trip to Basel in the Champions League, Liverpool hosted neighbours Everton in the 223rd Merseyside derby in a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.

The hosts looked to make a rapid start with Raheem Sterling rushing forward from the kick-off before a heavy challenge from Gareth Barry on Adam Lallan resulted in a booking for the Everton man with Mario Balotelli firing the resulting free-kick into the wall.

Barry was seemed to be influential in denying Liverpool's next attack as a volley from Sterling looked to block the shot with his arm but the appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Martin Atkinson.

Everton responded and forced a goalline clearance from Dejan Lovren in the 26th minute after a mazy run from Leighton Baines saw him beat Lazar Markovic before hitting a dangerous cross which forced the Croatian to clear for the hosts.

Liverpool started the second half brightly but were unable to break the deadlock and as the hour mark approached, Rodgers made a change in attack with the introduction of Phillipe Coutinho in place of Lazar Markovic. Everton looked to open the scoring with an effort from Steven Naismith who tested Simon Mignolet but found the Belgian up to the task.

However it was Liverpool who went ahead in the 65th minute as for the 10th time in his Reds career, Steven Gerrard found the net against Everton. The Liverpool captain swept a superb free-kick which despite finding the hand of Tim Howard beat the American to sent the Kop into a raucous roar.

The win could have been sealed for Liverpool as Mario Balotelli connected to a dangerous cross from Raheem Sterling before rattling the cross bar with a powerful shot which looked to have grazed the hands of Tim Howard.

The Italian swept a volley wide of the target as the clock reached 80 minutes and the win looked to be just minutes away from completion for the Reds when they were stunned by a superb leveller for the visitors. A clearance from an Aiden McGeady shot landed perfectly on the edge of the area for Phil Jagielka who thundered an effort which sailed past Simon Mignolet to salvage a draw for the Toffees.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Reds Edge Out Boro In Historic Shootout

After a 3-1 drubbing away to West Ham at the weekend, Liverpool looked to bounce back as they hosted Championship side Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup third round.

A number of changes from the weekend saw a debut handed to 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter and a place on the bench for 19-year-old Jordan Williams while the trio of Raheem Sterling, Rickie Lambert and Lazar Markovic spearheaded the attack.

However, Middlesbrough had the first chance to open the scoring inside three minutes as Kike headed over from a dangerous set-piece but Liverpool responded and opened the scoring themselves in the 10th minute. A dangerous cross drew a poor clearance from Jamal Blackman which fell to Rickie Lambert whose rebounded shot cannoned off a defender and into the path of Jordan Rossiter who made a superb start to his debut with a long range finish past Blackman.

Middlesbrough looked to respond and came closest on the half-hour as Kike hit a shot over the bar from a corner which was followed a minute later by a shot from Lee Tomlin which drew a strong save from Simon Mignolet ensured the hosts led into the interval.

The visitors made the better start to the second half and could have drawn level when Grant Leadbitter took aim from distance but was unable to trouble Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal before Adam Lallana advanced on goal at the other end and forced a strong save from Jamal Blackman.

However, Middlesbrough did get back on level terms in the 62nd minute when Grant Leadbitter swept in a dangerous free kick which found the head of Adam Reach and sailed past a helpless Simon Mignolet for 1-1. The Belgian could have been beaten for a second time in the 77th minute when a powerful run from Adam Clayton saw him shoot from a tight angle resulting in a superb stop from Mignolet.

Liverpool made a strange change just two minutes later as goal scorer Jordan Rossiter was replaced in midfield by fellow debutant Jordan Williams whose first involvement resulted in a chance for Javi Manquillo who hit a shot over the bar.

Adam Clayton threatened for Middlesbrough with just five minute remaining as a clever run down the left saw him arrow a powerful shot at goal only to see it cannon back off the post. At the other end substitute Mario Balotelli had a superb chance to win the game for Liverpool but sent his shot wide of the target meaning the tie would have to be settled in extra time.

Liverpool had an early chance in extra time as a dangerous cross from Raheem Sterling found Lucas in space but the Brazilian's shot was blocked well by the defence and five minutes later, Liverpool used their last throw of the dice as Suso replaced Lazar Markovic but were unable to break the deadlock in the first period.

The second period of extra time started brightly for the hosts as Jose Enrique and Raheem Sterling both forced fine saves from Jamal Blackman who was powerless to prevent Liverpool going 2-1 ahead in the 108th minute  Raheem Sterling's cross caused trouble in the Middlesbrough defence with the ball falling to Suso who fired the hosts in front.

Liverpool looked to be safely into the next round as the final seconds ticked down but a mistimed back pass from Raheem Sterling found Patrick Bamford who raced into the Liverpool area before being fouled by Kolo Toure resulting in a penalty. Bamford stepped up and slotted past Simon Mignolet for 2-2 and forced the tie into a penalty shootout.

Mario Balotelli stepped up first in front of the Kop and slotted past Jamal Blackman for 1-0 before Simon Mignolet saved well from Patrick Bamford, Lucas made it 2-0 before Adam Clayton responded successfully for 2-1. Adam Lallana made it 3-1 before Adam Reach converted for 3-2 followed by Suso adding to his extra time strike with a clever penalty for a 4-2 lead meaning the next spot kick would be crucial.

Albert Adomah stepped up and rifled past Simon Mignolet to make it 4-3 meaning Raheem Sterling had the chance to win the tie for Liverpool but his effort was saved by Jamal Blackman with Jelle Vossen sending the tie into sudden death at 4-4.

Jordan Williams kept his cool to make it 5-4 before George Friend levelled successfully at 5-5, Kolo Toure converted for 6-6 before former Reds defender Daniel Ayala made the score 6-6 while Mamadou Sakho put the hosts 7-6 ahead but Ryan Fredericks responded for the visitors for 7-7.

The game crept to three hours since the kick-off as Javi Manquillo and Kenneth Omeruo both converted efforts for 8-8 before Jose Enrique and Yaric Wildschut also scored from the spot for 9-9 which meant the rarity of both goalkeepers having to take part. Simon Mignolet buried his effort past Jamal Blackman for 10-9 with his opposite number also converting taking the score to 10-10.

As all 22 players had taken a kick, the merry go round began again with Mario Balotelli converting for 11-10 before Patrick Bamford converted his second penalty from three attempts in the space of 15 minutes for 11-11. Lucas and Adam Clayton repeated their earlier successes for 12-12 before Adam Lallana and Adam Reach replied in kind for a bizarre 13-1 scoreline. Suso made it 14-13 with the 29th penalty of the shootout before Albert Adomah fired over to finally bring an end to the longest shootout in League Cup history and send Liverpool into the fourth round. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hammers Rapid Start Stuns Reds

After a last-gasp victory over Ludogorets in the Champions League, Liverpool returned to domestic duties with a trip to face West Ham.

Liverpool seemed to have suffered travel sickness in the first few minutes as they fell 2-0 down inside seven minutes with Winston Reid heading in James Tomkins' knock down after only 75 seconds before Diafra Sakho fooled Simon Mignolet with a clever chip in the seventh minute.

The Hammers lead could have increased just five minutes later when Aaron Cresswell forced a strong save from Simon Mignolet from distance but Liverpool bounced back in the 26th minute as Raheem Sterling latched onto a rebound of Mario Balotelli's blocked shot for 2-1.

Enner Valencia could have regained the two goal lead for the hosts with a dangerous free kick which saw Simon Mignolet tip the ball around the post before the Belgian was called into action again by Valencia as he saved strongly after a powerful shot.

Liverpool looked to start the second half well as Borini tested Adrian with a tame shot before Balotelli looked to curl an effort into the top corner but could only find the arms of Adrian who was called on again to save a long range shot from Borini in the 64th minute.

West Ham responded as Diafra Sakho looked to chip Simon Mignolet for a second time but his effort crept over the bar before a strong shot from Mario Balotelli at the other end drew a superb save from Adrian.

Liverpool's hopes of a comeback evaporated in the 88th minute a though pass from former Reds midfielder Stewart Downing found Morgan Amalfitano who fired past a hapless Simon Mignolet from close range to wrap up a 3-1 win.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Gerrard Secures Last Gasp Victory

After a five year absence from the Champions League, Liverpool began their campaign with the visit of Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad who were making their debut in the competition.

The Anfield crowd unveiled a superb mosaic before the game which featured the five European Cup wins and they could have an early reason to celebrate when Steven Gerrard swept in a dangerous free kick only to see it cleared by the Ludogorets defence.

The absence of star striker Daniel Sturridge meant that there was pressure on Mario Balotelli to spearhead the attack and he came close to an opening goal when a pass from Adam Lallana found the Italian but the Ludogorets defence held firm to prevent him getting a shot at goal.

Ludogorets responded with a chance for Virgil Misidjan whose effort was deflected behind for a corner by Adam Lallana and the England midfielder as involved again a minute later as he latched on to rebound from Mario Balotelli's blocked shot before Raheem Sterling looked to tap past Milan Borjan only to be caught offside.

Aleksandar Alexandrov swept in a dangerous free kick and found Cosmin Moti but the defender's headed effort went wide and Liverpool responded with a chance of their own as Mario Balotelli drifted across the box before hitting a shot at goal but could only find the arms of Milan Borjan.

Liverpool looked to make a bright start to the second half but when Phillipe Coutinho aimed a shot at goal he could only find Milan Borjan who made a comfortable save before both sides had chances in the space of a minute.

Javier Manquillo clipped a shot over the bar just yards away from the goal and the result was a a counter-attack from Ludogorets which saw Junior Caicara fool the Liverpool defence before forcing Simon Mignolet into a good save.

Ludogorets confidence grew when a pacy run from Roman Bezjak put him in on goal but his shot crept over the bar having beaten Simon Mignolet which seemed to spark a response from Liverpool as a swooping cross from Javier Manquillo found Fabio Borini who forced a good save from Milan Borjan.

The visitors threatened again with nine minutes remaining as Yordan Minev sent a shot wide of the post before Marcelino looked to advance on goal only to be denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Alberto Moreno. The Spanish defender was influential in Liverpool's next move as he sent a cross into the Ludogorets area and found Mario Balotelli who collected the ball before hitting past Milan Borjan to open the scoring with his first Liverpool goal.

Liverpool looked to be on for a perfect start to their group stage campaign but were caught out in the 90th minute when a stunning run from Dani Abalo saw him carve through the Liverpool defence before rifling a shot past Simon Mignolet to level the score and surely secure a draw for the Bulgarians.

Ludogorets' joy evaporated in the final minute of injury time when a strong run from Javier Manquillo saw him advance on goal only to be brought down on the edge of the area by Milan Borjan which resulted in a penalty for Liverpool which Steven Gerrard converted successfully to secure a 2-1 victory.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Reds Fall to Early Strike

After an International break that resulted in injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can, Liverpool gave debuts to Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic while Mario Balotelli made his Anfield debut as the Reds hosted Aston Villa.

Liverpool started brightly with Lazar Markovic shooting over the bar in the third minute and the Serbian forward had another good chance four minutes later as he connected to a cross from Javier Manquillo but could only aim a header wide of the target.

Aston Villa looked tho cause a threat from a corner in the ninth minute ans the Liverpool defence failed to clear the ball which allowed Phillipe Senderos to head down into the path of Gabriel Agbonlahor who hit past Simon Mignolet to open the scoring.

Villa could have gone two up in the 13th minute as Phillipe Senderos found himself unmarked in the Liverpool box but headed an effort over while Steven Gerrard denied a powerful shot from Andreas Weimann with a strong headed clearance.

Liverpool looked to level in the 32nd minute when Adam Lallana hit for goal but saw his chance blocked by strong defence by Phillipe Senderos with the former Southampton midfielder having another good chance just before half-time as he arrowed a shot at goal which went narrowly past the post.

One last chance came for Liverpool before the interval as Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana combined but the Villa defence held firm to keep them out and break the move down but the hosts could have levelled just three minutes into the second when Adam Lallana swept in a dangerous corner which found Mario Balotelli but the Italian striker headed over the bar.

Steven Gerrard drew a good save from Brad Guzan with a powerful free-kick in the 63rd minute while Raheem Sterling looked to beat Guzan after latching onto a through pass in the 77th minute but the American goalkeeper collected the ball safely.

Liverpool should have claimed a point late on as Phillipe Coutinho arrowed a superb effort at goal only to see the ball canon back off the post and it seemed that it just wasn't to be Liverpool's day as Aston Villa held on for the win.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Reds Bounce Back At The Lane

After a bad night at the Etihad on Monday, Liverpool made the trip to face a Tottenham side who were victorious in their first two games and the Reds included new signing Mario Balotelli in the starting eleven.

The Italian striker came close to making a perfect start to his Liverpool debut when he connected to a dangerous cross from Daniel Sturridge to head at goal but could only find the arms of Hugo Lloris but the Spurs' keeper was soon beaten by a well worked move from Liverpool's young English trio.

Daniel Sturridge combined with Jordan Henderson down the right with the midfielder squaring the ball across the area to the the oncoming Raheem Sterling who tapped past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Tottenhan had a great chance to equalise just a minute later when Emmanuel Adebayor advanced on goal only to lift the ball over Simon Mignolet who was relieved to ball fail to dip before going over the bar. Mario Balotelli had another good chance to open his account for Liverpool when he connected to Steven Gerrard's free kick but the chance drifted wide.

Just after the half-hour mark, the Italian had a superb chance to score when Hugo Lloris came out of his goal to quell a dangerous Liverpool attack but left his goal wide open and a quick shot from Balotelli went wide from distance.

Liverpool's defence were caught on the break when Nacer Chadli advanced on goal and hit a powerful shot which forced a superb save from Simon Mignolet who ensured his side went into the half-time interval in front.

Tottenham looked to start the second half well but soon fell further behind when Eric Dier's foul on Joe Allen led to a penalty that Steven Gerrard slotted past Hugo Lloris for a 2-0 lead just four minutes into the second half.

Liverpool extended their lead on the hour in superb style as a terrible first impression from substitute Andros Townsend saw him dispossessed by Alberto Moreno who dashed down the left and advanced on goal before slotting past Hugo Lloris to the euphoric joy of the travelling fans.

Tottenham soon had Hugo Lloris to thank for preventing a fourth Liverpool strike as he saved well after a shot from Raheem Sterling who had combined with Daniel Sturridge with the resulting corner headed over by Dejan Lovren.

Raheem Sterling should have scored his second goal of the evening in the 70th minute after a clever run from Emre Can saw him pick out the young winger who literally walked through the Tottenham defence before hitting a tame shot right at Hugo Lloris.

Liverpool held on to their three-goal lead and recorded their second win of the season that ensures that the sit fifth going into the International break.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Jovetic Brace Defeats Reds

After a narrow 2-1 win against Southampton last wee, Liverpool made the trip to face defending Premier League champions Manchester City in a meeting between last season's top two.

Liverpool were boosted by the signing of former City striker earlier in the day with the Italian watching on at the Etihad in the stands as his former club made the better start with Edin Dzeko looking to strike inside eight minutes only to see a powerful shot drift wide of the target.

However, Liverpool came even closer just a minute later as Raheem Sterling chested the ball down before shooting on the turn only to narrowly miss the target but the visitors did get on target within minutes as Steven Gerrard swept in a dangerous free-kick which found the arms of Joe Hart.

The hosts had two good chances to go in front in the space of two minutes with Pablo Zabaleta sking a shot over the bar before Yaya Toure tested Simon Mignolet with a strong long range effort which the Belgian saved well and Steven Gerrard tried a similar effort but saw his chance drift wide of the target.

The former England captain tested Joe Hart twice in a short period from set pieces, first with a curling free-kick that drew a strong punch from the England goalkeeper before a similar effort saw Hart punch clear yet again as Liverpool ramped up the pressure.

A well-worked move down the middle saw Daniel Sturridge advance on goal only to see a strong shot parried by Joe Hart who was a huge factor in the score remaining level. City responded well and went in front after some good fortune as Alberto Moreno's attempted clearance saw him misjudge the flight of the ball which allowed Stevan Jovetic to capitalise and fire past Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool looked to have levelled just seven minutes into the second half when a superb aerial pass from Glen Johnson saw him pick out Daniel Sturridge who fired past Joe Hart to the joy of the travelling fans but the effort was chalked off due to offside.

City looked to double the lead when Edin Dzeko broke through the Liverpool defence and looked odds on to score only for a superb chase back from Alberto Moreno to deny him with a great tackle in the area but it was a warning of what was to come as Samir Nasri picked out Stevan Jovetic who rifled a shot past Simon Mignolet for 2-0.

City looked to have confirmed the win in the 68th minute as 'super-sub' Sergio Aguero took just 23 seconds to score as he latched on to a good pass and dashed towards goal before hitting past Simon Mignolet for 3-0 and surely wrap up the three points.

However, Liverpool did bounce back to 3-1 with eight minutes to go as Rickie Lambert collected a superb cross from Daniel Sturridge and hit for goal only for the shot to hit Pablo Zabaleta before beating Joe Hart but it was little consolation as the Reds lost only their second league game in 2014.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

SAS Secure Winning Start

After ending pre-season successfully with a 4-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool looked to start their 2014/15 Premier League campaign in the same vain as they hosted Southampton on Sunday.

Amid the pre-match talk about Liverpool's summer shopping spree at Southampton, Brendan Rodgers named two of the three signings from the South Coast club with Dejan Lovren in the starting eleven and Rickie Lambert on the substitutes bench with fellow summer signing Javier Manquillo also making his competitive debut for Liverpool.

One of Liverpool's key factors last season was their pacy attacking starts to games and this season looks to be no different as the hosts had the first chance inside seven minutes with Daniel Sturridge looking to test new Saints 'keeper Fraser Forster but could only shoot over from long range.

Fraser Forster did get his first test in the Premier League in the 20th minute when a well-worked move saw Raheem Sterling advance on goal before striking for goal only to be denied by a comfortable save by the former Celtic stopper.

His opposite number, Simon Mignolet had to be on guard just minutes later after a dangerous corner created chaos for the Liverpool defence but the Belgian collected the ball safely to quell the danger before starting a counter-attacking move that saw Liverpool open the scoring.

The ball came to Jordan Henderson just inside the Southampton half and the England midfielder swept forward a superb through pass that found the run of Raheem Sterling who advanced dashed into the area before side-footing past Fraser Forster to the joy of the Anfield crowd.

Southampton should have been level in the 35th minute when a superb curling free-kick from James Ward-Prowse looked on course to beat Simon Mignolet but the result was a stunning save from the Belgian who tipped the ball over the crossbar. 

Liverpool had Simon Mignolet to thank for preserving their lead just before half-time as a shot from Morgan Schneiderlin looked to be dipping to the net only for the Belgian to replicate his earlier save with a stunning tip over the bar. However, Liverpool had one final chance before the interval as Raheem Sterling drew a great save from Fraser Forster after a strong effort from the edge of the area.

Southampton started the second half well and got a reward for the efforts as a clever back-heel from debutant Dusan Tadic on the edge of the area saw Nathaniel Clyne slip through the Liverpool defence before hitting past Simon Mignolet to level the score. The visitors came close to going ahead just after the hour mark when Steven Davis was left unmarked in the Liverpool area before testing Simon Mignolet with an effort which the Belgian collected safely.

Both sides continued to search for the next goal with Southampton looking the most likely scorers but Liverpool regained the lead against the run of play as a dangerous cross from Jordan Henderson found he head of Raheem Sterling who headed to the back post with Daniel Sturridge latching on and tapping past Fraser Forster.

Liverpool looked to have survived the Southampton charge late on but came achingly close to letting the lead slip in the 88th minute as Morgan Schneiderlin struck a superb shot at goal, only to be denied from superb tipping save from Mignolet which cannoned off the cross bar and bounced to Shane Long who then missed the chance to salvage a draw on his debut.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Reds Rampant on Anfield Return

After a mixed pre-season on the road both in the UK and the USA, Liverpool ended their campaign with a return to Anfield for the visit of German side Borussia Dortmund who were without their World Cup winning quartet.

Both sides named fairly strong line-ups with Liverpool handing debuts the defensive duo of Javier Manquillo (on loan from Atletico Madrid) and Dejan Lovren who arrived from Sothampton and ironically scored the winning goal for the Saints on his last visit to Anfield.

Dortmund looked to open the scoring early on when Kirch tested Mignolet with a shot but the Belgian saved the chance easily and a conuter-attack saw Liverpool come close twice in succession with Sterling hitting a shot at Langerak before Henderson drew another save from the Australian.

Liverpool's attack did bear fruit just five minutes later when a stunning run down the middle from Sturridge saw him race into the area before side-footing past Langerak and into the bottom corner for 1-0 but Dortmund could have levelled soon after when Pisczek looked to fire a rapid response but saw his shot go wide of the target.

Pisczek's miss soon proved to be a costly one as Liverpool added a second goal to their lead in the 14th minute as Gerrard swung in a corner that met the head of Lovren superbly and he marked his debut with a fine headed goal for 2-0.

Dortmund seemed to struggle to break through the newly formed Liverpool back line and could have been three down at the break when Gerrard looked to send a dangerous free-kick to test Langerak but could only hit over meaning only a two-goal lead into the interval.

The third goal did come just nine minutes into the second half when a superb squared pass from Sterling picked out Coutinho who fired past Langerak to increase the lead to 3-0 and the game was over as a contest on the hour mark when a pass from Sturridge found Henderson who hit past Langerak for 4-0.

Liverpool held on and secured a superb win that will fill them with confidence ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener against Southampton.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Reds Lose Out In ICC Final

After topping their group unbeaten in the International Champions Cup, Liverpool advanced to the final to take on fierce rivals Manchester United.

United made the better start of the two sides and could have been ahead inside seven minutes when Ashley Young's cross reached Javier Hernandez but the young striker's shot went across goal and was cleared successfully by Mamadou Sakho as the danger ended.

Liverpool had a good chance themselves three minutes later when Steven Gerrard sent a free-kick into the area which met the head of Jordan Henderson but went over the bar and failed to trouble David De Gea who was soon called into action in the 12th minute as Martin Kelly had a chance from the edge of the area but the Spanish stopper collected the ball easily.

However, Liverpool had an even better chance within a minute as a Glen Johnson found Raheem Sterling with a through pass and with the young attacker advancing on goal, he was brought down by Phil Jones which resulted in a penalty for Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard stepped up and slotted the spot kick past David De Gea to open the scoring in the 13th minute but the Reds could have doubled their lead in the 24th minute as a powerful shot from Phillipe Coutinho forced a good save from David De Gea.  Both sides threatened from free-kicks with Wayne Rooney hitting one against the Liverpool wall and Steven Gerrard forcing David De Gea to punch his chance clear.

Liverpool had two good chances early in the second half with Rickie Lambert testing David De Gea after connecting to a Steven Gerrard pass followed by Phillipe Coutinho finding Raheem Sterling who curling shot deflected wide of the target.

United responded with a good chance of their own as Javier Hernandez swept a cross to the far post which was met superbly by Wayne Rooney who fired past Simon Mignolet to level the score in the 55th minute. The equaliser proved to be a catalyst for a second strike as just two minutes later Luke Shaw found Juan Mata who fired past Simon Mignolet from outside the area to complete a stunning comeback.

United's joy was nearly a treble success when a long range pass looked to have hit the bar and cannoned back into play which saw Wayne Rooney tap past a helpless Simon Mignolet but the strike was chalked off as the ball had hit the stanchion behind the goal and not the crossbar.

However a third did come for United as substitute Jesse Lingard sealed the win with a superb shot that sailed past Simon Mignolet in the 88th minute and handed Liverpool only their second loss in pre-season ahead of the traditional Anfield return for the final game of schedule. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Liverpool Miami Bound After Dispatching Milan

After seeing Olympiakos defeat Manchester City in a penalty shootout, Liverpool knew they were guaranteed a place in Monday's final against rivals Manchester United as they took on AC Milan.

Liverpool had the better of the opening exchanges with the majority of the possession over the Italians and turned the dominance into an end product in the 17th minute when Joe Allen raced towards goal before hitting a shot that cannoned off the post and into the path of Raheem Sterling.

Sterling's effort drew a save from Abbiati but the rebound fell nicely for Allen who fired past the AC stopper into the net to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead. Jordan Henderson looked to test Abbiati from a dangerous looking free-kick but could only find the Milan wall while Sebastian Coates blocked a fine effort from Niang at the other end.

Liverpool were awarded a penalty just after the half-hour mark when Sterling drew a foul from Rami and up stepped Rickie Lambert to take the penalty but despite a powerful shot it failed to beat Abbiati who denied the Englishman with a fine save.

A vast array of changes for both sides included the highly-linked Mario Balotelli who looked to test Simon Mignolet from a dangerous free-kick but it proved to cause no trouble for the Belgian stopper and Liverpool's continuing lead allowed them to rest a few players for the upcoming final on the hour mark.

One of the changes saw the introduction of Conor Coady who looked for an early impact when he and Emre Can teed up Steven Gerrard for a trademark piledriver but sadly the effort failed to test the AC 'keeper and at the other end, Mignolet came out well to deny Balotelli from what seemed to be a likely goal.

Liverpool confirmed the win late on with Suso adding the second goal with just a couple of minutes remaining to ensure Liverpool would go into the final unbeaten and with two clean sheets from three games in the competition.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mignolet The Hero For Liverpool

After a narrow win over Olympiakos, Liverpool continued their campaign in the International Champions Cup with a tie against Premier League rivals Manchester City.

Both sides fielded mixed lineups in keeping with pre-season traditions but despite a number of stars missing out, the starting players still had a lot of experience as could be seen early on as Manchester City registered a trio of early chances.

Clichy looked to test Jones in the Liverpool goal in the third minute but saw his shot go wide of the target but Jones was tested well just three minutes later when Dzeko forced a good save from the Australian before Jovetic headed over from a corner.

Liverpool responded well as a stunning cross-field pass from Gerrard found Enrique, who squared the ball for Coutinho with the Brazilian sending a shot just wide of the target but Liverpool should have gone in the 15th minute when a cross from Henderson met the head of Lambert whose effort was straight at Caballero.

City carved out a chance when Navas raced down the wing and struck for goal but saw his effort saved well by Jones, Milner also came close for City when his shot deflected off Kelly before drifting wide but the ball was in the net in the 26th minute when Dzeko fired past Jones only to see his effort denied due to an offside decision.

Lambert looked to put Liverpool in front in the 37th minute when he teed a shot across goal but saw Caballero claim the ball easily ensuring that the sides went into the half-time interval level and a number of changes for both sides saw a mix of experience and youth com on to the field.

Hart was called into action early after replacing Caballero as he was forced to deny fellow substitute Robinson after the defender had raced into the area but just three minutes later, City went in front. Navas sent a dangerous cross into the area and a deflection of Gerrard left Jovetic with an easy tap in past Mignolet for a 1-0 lead.

Liverpool looked to bounce back instantly as Coutinho broke through the City defence and struck for goal but saw his shot saved well by Hart and from the resulting corner, Sturridge headed over the bar. However, Liverpool were level on the hour as a stunning effort from Henderson brought them level after he had benefited from the combination of Sturridge and Sterling.

City should have regained the lead just four minutes later as a Kolarov pass found the path of Zuculini who sent a powerful effort towards the goal only to see it cannon back off the crossbar but it was a prelude for Citys second goal as within minutes, they were in front with Navas the creator again as his cross caused chaos for the Liverpool defence which allowed Jovetic to capitalise and score past Mignolet for 2-1.

Coutinho looked to bring Liverpool level in the 70th minute but his effort went wide of the post, Liverpool came close in the 83rd minute as Sterling found Can with the midfielder's effort glancing just past the post via a deflection and from the resulting corner, Toure's header could only find Hart in the City goal.

One of Liverpool's biggest positives last season was their attacking threat and it was clear that despite the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, the threat lived on as a clever pass from Lucas found Sterling who finished past hard with a stunning curling effort to bring the sides level at 2-2.

A perk of the tournament is that each game has to have a winner so the prospect of a deciding penalty shootout was on the horizon but Liverpool thought they had sealed all three points in the second minute of injury time as Sterling fired past Hart only to have his joy dampened by an offside decision meaning penalties would decide the winner.

City started the shootout in the shape of Kolarov but his effort sailed high over the bar meaning Sturridge had the chance to put Liverpool ahead but surprisingly sent his effort over the same way as the previous spot-kick. Toure stepped up for City but despite a good effort saw his shot saved well by Mignolet with Can slotting past Hart to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.

Navas had the chance to level for City but only managed to draw a good save from Mignolet and with Henderson scoring, Liverpool led 2-0 and looked good for the two points and despite Iheanacho scoring for City, Lucas had the chance to seal the win and did so with a superb penalty for a 3-1 win.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sterling Effort From Liverpool

Liverpool continued their USA tour with their opening group game in the International Champions Cup against Olympiakos.

The Reds fielded a strong lineup that saw the return of England quartet Raheen Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson as well as a debut for new signing Lazar Markovic against an Olympiakos side who were laying their second group game after an opening 3-0 win against AC Milan.

Boosted by the return of most of their World Cup representatives. Liverpool came close to a superb start as Gerrard swept in a dangerous free-kick in the fourth minute only to see it blocked by the defence. The Liverpool captain's effort served as a warning of things to come soon after, Sturridge aimed for goal but his shot found the oncoming Sterling who slotted past Megyeri to open the scoring.

Gerrard came close to adding a second for Liverpool in the 22nd minute when he sent a thundering effort towards the goal but saw the end product go wide of the target but Liverpool continued to pressure and a well-worked combination between new signings Markovic and Can saw the former sweep a curling shot at goal that came achingly close to dipping under the bar.

Olympiakos had a good chance of their own just two minutes later as Saviola looked to test Jones in the Liverpool goal but saw his shot blocked by Enrique who put the ball behind for a corner and from the resulting set-piece, Diamantakos had a chance but saw his effort drift wide of the target.

An array of changes for both sides saw Robinson, Coutinho and Allen come on for Liverpool in place of Enrique, Can and Markovic but it was the Greek side that had the best start to the second half as Ghazaryan tested Jones with a poweful shot that beat the Australian but cannoned back off the crossbar.

Liverpool responded with a chance for Coutinho but his effort went over the crossbar and the Brazilian had another good chance with 13 minutes to go as he struck from long range with a powerful effort that narrowly went past the post.

Olympiakos should have been level in the 80th minute when a mazy run from Bouchalakis saw him scythe through the Liverpool defence and even swish past Jones but a stunning chase back from Coates prevented the Greeks from drawing level.

Liverpool held on for the win despite a late chance from Samaris that drew a fine save from Jones but the Reds could have ended the game with a two-goal victory as Ibe looked to pick out Lambert only for the England striker to his a shot just past the near post.