Forssell 34, Larsson 55
Crouch 63, Benayoun 76.
Not one of our better days. We only showed what we could do when we went two down. This is perhaps surprising bearing in mind that arguably many of the players we fielded had an ideal opportunity to impress. Nonetheless once we started to play we were perhaps unfortunate not to win in the end. Another four minutes of added time might have done the trick!
To the team changes, it could be easier to say that only two of Tuesday’s team remained, Skrtel and Reina. The start was very pedestrian almost as if both sides were in a safe mid table position and just playing the game out. Most of the noise was made by the Liverpool end. It took half an hour or so for anything of note to happen then McFadden produced an excellent cross Srktel, not for the first time missed it and Finnan who had been drawn in to the middle by the cross left freed Forrsell to fire home.
The goal, spurred us into some kind of action. Taylor struggled to keep out Crouch’s long range effort. Riise nearly bounced back from Tuesday with a free kick that whistled over the bar. On the flip side Voronin was perhaps lucky not to see red for a elbow on Ridgewell.
After the break Birmingham upped their game and deservedly extended their lead. Again from another set piece, a free kick taken thanks to Skrtel’s push on McFadden even though prior to this the Birmingham striker had raised his foot. Perhaps Reina was put off by Jaidi who stood behind the ball, in an offside position facing him. Presumably the idea is for Jaidi to say or do something to unnerve the keeper, sticking his tongue out blowing a raspberry or flashing! Who knows but I doubt it had any effect as Larsson’s kick was excellent anyway.
At 2-0 one thought of what might be going through the minds of people such as Roy Hodgson, Gary Megson and Steve Coppell particularly as Rafa made no attempt to change things by bringing on stronger players. However, we finally stirred ourselves. Pennant’s cute pass found Voronin who, under pressure from Birmingham defenders, jabbed a square ball to Crouch just inside the area. He made no mistake with a calm side footer into the far corner.
As is often the case Birmingham having been cruising suddenly got all nervy. This transferred itself to the crowd who went all silent and reverential! Voronin went close firing into the side netting and there were also half chances for Crouch and Benayoun as we slowly assumed control. The inevitable happened when Pennant found Lucas on the right. His cross was met by Benayoun’s head and deflected into the goal off Jaidi’s backside, some sort of poetic justice for his part in the earlier free kick?
After the game Rafa said
“The team was controlling the game in the first half but we conceded a goal that changed things a bit. The second goal gave them more hope and we needed to score and did so.”
Thanks for the profound insight Rafa! However, as his quote suggested, unless you’re a Birmingham fan there’s not much to say really except a good comeback and, baring an Everton goalfest, fourth place secured for next years Champions League. Er what else? Oh yes by far the pick for us, again, was Jermaine Pennant who, doubtless inspired by playing against his old club, didn’t stop working.
Now on to old London town!
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell (Queudrue 77), Murphy, Larsson, Muamba, Nafti, Kapo (McSheffrey 77), Forssell (Zarate 87), McFadden.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Jerome.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise (Insua 64), Pennant, Plessis, Lucas, Benayoun, Crouch, Voronin.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Gerrard, Kuyt, Carragher.