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.