17 September 2010

Roll on Sunday

As far as starts go, Liverpool couldn't have asked for a better 30 seconds. One dodgy back pass and a good finish by Joe Cole was all it took to get Anfield's volume up to about 10 that rainy night. Unfortunately, that's as good as it got for the first half.

I'm still dumbfounded by Liverpool's approach this season. When without the ball, the team appear to be happy to sit back and not press opponents or close down space. Maybe, there's a school of thought that suggests that not doing this has its benefits (maintaining fitness perhaps?) but if there are one or two benefits, I can't see if they actually outweigh the many disadvantages. With all that possession Steaua naturally started to grow in confidence and after their equaliser, Anfield started to sound more like Stadionul Steaua.

Liverpool stepped up the pressure after the break and it paid dividends almost immediately. On 54 minutes, Sotirios Kyrgiakos looked liked he was pulled down in the penalty box and was awarded a penalty. A soft penalty but a penalty nevertheless. There were nervous looks on the Kop as David N'Gog stepped up to take it but Liverpool's top scorer this season finished coolly to calm nerves around the park and silence his doubters, at least for the next few moments.

After an intial mix up by the fourth official, Lucas was introduced as Ryan Babel's replacement. A few minutes later and Steven Gerrard, who was in the stands that night was smiling away as the Brazilian substitute performed an impersonation of the Liverpool captain by scoring a screamer from outside the box. Towards the end of the match, N'Gog added his second of the match, the 4-1 scoreline ultimately vindicating Roy Hodgson's squad selection and tactics for the match.

At the end of the night, it was a good job by Liverpool's second string and a good confidence booster for Liverpool's youngsters but any self-respecting fan knows that the real action's this Sunday...

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