We started with a side that I figured we would go with. Vic back up top (actually played wide right most of the time) and the same back 4. Yobo wasn't back and the total bench age added up to just over 100 thanks to AvdM and Carlo Nash.
Liverpool started with Keane and Torres upfront and Mascherano was missing from the line-up. We had the first chance of the game in the first few mins when Vic controlled a ball just outside the box and took a shot that had Reina scurrying to his left to thwart. After that, Liverpool settled down and passed the ball around for a while.
We didn't seem to be getting too many passes in but Pienaar did his best with what he got. Howard Webb took every opportunity to stop play and check if the Liverpool player wanted a foul, so the game didn't have too much flow to it. We on the other hand were not getting the rub of the green (or Red) with 50-50 balls.
Then, out of nowhere, they played a through-ball to Torres and he snaked past our centre-backs and was one-on-one with Howard and somehow contrived to hit the post. The commentators that were available to us on ESPN via Setanta were Martin Tyler and Paul Walsh. Paul Walsh didn't lose an opportunity to put us down when we were called for invisible fouls and praise the ballerina Reds for their play. (Sure he has an inflatable doll of Torres/Gerrard stashed away at home!).
Pienaar was booked for a challenge even though Howard Webb had his back to him at the time. Skrtel, the alien lookalike, was all up in Cahill's face for an innocuous challenge near the corner flag as they battled for the ball. As the whistle blew for half-time, I was left wondering whether the second half would be any different.
The second half started with Liverpool showing a lot more urgency... perhaps the Spanish waiter threatened to read them his Sir Alex's rant again! We made a few desperate clearances in and around our box with a great effort by Baines to deny Hyypia standing out in my mind. Torres ran into the box and fell over after a feather touch from Jags, leaving the players, the fat waiter, crazy Sammy Lee, the Kop and Paul Walsh crying for a penalty. Somehow, Howard Webb kept his wits and waved play on...
As the half wore on they took off Keane for Benayoun. Just after that, we broke down the left and Vic, after what looked like a push on the Liverpool defender, ran into their area and Skrtel helped him to ground... penalty claims were once again denied (and rightly I think!).
Then, from the restart the ball was played in from the left to Gerrard, who found himself in space and as he charged forward, three of our players ran to close him down... sadly they were just too late as he shaped and shot past Howard into the bottom right hand corner... the crowd and players went wild... Gerrard himself did a slide on his knees to please the crowd. Hilariously, Reina tried to replicate that near his own goal but ended up jarring his left knee, lifting up a clump of dirt and nearly falling flat on his face!
Instead of throwing on Gosling/Jutciewicz at 'em, we carried on with the same. My wife and I sat in silence praying for a miracle... somewhere, somehow, we needed a goal.
Then on 87 mins, Benayoun committed a foul on the right a little away from the corner flag. The angle was so acute that there was no way Arteta could have shot directly. I saw my wife close her eyes and fold her hands in prayer... Arteta stepped up and whipped it in ferociously... and the amazing/incredible/spectacular Tiny Tim got away from his defender and met the ball at the near post and headed it backwards into the goal!!!Our lads went mad... so did the wife and me as we ran round the house screaming...
I expected nearly 5 mins of added time, which never came (thankfully). So Part I of the drama this week ended 1-1 which was a fair result in my eyes.
- Howard: Saved well from a Gerrard shot and kept his concentration well.
- Hibbert: Seems to be getting better by the game..solid at the back for the most part..needs to be better going forwards.
- Jags: Solid. Awesome as he's been all season.
- Lescott: Managed not to get booked and looked solid too.
- Baines: Got caught out at the back couple of times in the first half but 2nd haof was great... great crosses going forward... deserves to keep his place.
- Neville: Few silly challenges on Gerrard early on but settled down later.
- Arteta: Quiet game by his usual standards but the free kick was pretty good.
- Ossie: Poor game for me... very poor
- Pienaar: Full of beans... very good tonight... troubled them whenever he got the ball.
- Anichebe: Was good at times but lacks the confidence and skill at the moment.
- Cahill: I'll never run out of superlatives for this guy... my favourite player tonight and on most days for us. What a goal... priceless (hope Man City dont read this and bid £50 million for what they think is priceless!)
ps: Did anyone else notice Mark Halsey patting the fat waiter on the back and joking around after Liverpool scored... very fishy if you ask me! Also, the way the entire Liverpool team fell over and rolled around every time they fell down was so pathetic... my 2½-year-old nephew is steadier on his feet!!!
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