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.