Gerrard 90 pen
Atletico Madrid 1
No doubt many looked for a barnstorming win last night to blow away Saturday’s frustration? This was not the result they wanted.
Victory would have seen us ensure qualification to the knock stages as the Marseille/PSV tie went in our favour. However, in the context of our position in the Champions League group, I guess no real damage has been done. However, for second time in succession against Atletico Madrid the reaction is “OK” instead of “satisfying”.
Many will also look at yesterday and find another situation where domination and possession wasn’t turned into goals. Where luck and travesty was dished out to us more or less equal measure by a very consistent referee; well consistent in the sense that he always seemed to make the wrong decision! Even though we struggled to find the solution to the problem an enhanced and renewed Atletico set us, we kept going right to the end and salvaged something that perhaps the team last season would have given up on?
Rafa made one change from Saturday Aurelio for Dossena. Speculation about Torres making an appearance was immediately quashed by Rafa who decided not to pick him because of the Spaniard’s “confidence”. What? Is he having self doubts, nervous about facing his old club? Thankfully Rafa qualified this – it turned out he wasn’t 100% sure he was recovered.
Atletico were a stronger proposition from the first game in Spain. Buoyed by a good run in the league they played with a purpose and confidence that seemed to be lacking in the first game until we faded at the end. As often happens in these sort of games they added an extra man to midfield and invited us to play through them hoping to pick us off on the counter.
Because of this it was not surprising that one of the key moments came from a long ball. Alonso’s “over the top” to Keane who hit it first time wide of the post into the stanchion. Atletico also had their chances on the counter. Samio spooning poorly over the cross bar after free flowing move. However, it was something of siege and sadly all too often we were flummoxed by a strong blue wall strung across the edge of the eighteen yard area. Keane did break it but his subsequent attempt to round keeper and slot home was foiled.
As our pressure got more intense so did Atletico’s chances of harming us on the counter. Sure enough Maxi fed Heitinga before setting off up the field. The defenders long ball found Lopez who picked out the advancing Maxi once more, this time in our penalty area. No one really tracked him but even if we had it would have been difficult to stop him finding the back of the net such was the conciseness of his control and finish..
By the second half Mr Hansson had clearly seem enough and though he’d “entertain” the crowd with a series of baffling discussions. Penalties were denied. A clear handball by Perea was ignored as were less convincing claims for Atletico involving Mascherano and Carragher. However Mr Hansson doesn’t just do penalties, he showed immense versatility by cocking up a number of corner decisions. Thankfully he saved his best until last when Gerrard was actually pushed over by Pernia at a point in the game when everyone should have been thinking about finding their car or getting to the pub before closing time! Gerrard duly obliged sending Franco the wrong way with kick that crashed towards the top corner.
So here we go again “last gasp”, “lucky” Liverpool leave it late once more. Whatever the case it was a deserved equaliser for all the pressure we exerted throughout the game (it could have been more had Mr Hansson not decided to pay a visit to La La Land). Victory in one of the final two group games should get us through. Yet Atletico were unlucky and made it difficult for us. We looked out of sorts at times but still managed a degree of damage limitation and still find ourselves in a good position.
I am trying to be positive, and there are still good grounds for being so, and hopefully it’s just me being paranoid or worrying too much, but are we slowly seeing small warning signs, not least in terms of chances missed? As a result one wonders if we are slowly beginning to be reigned in. Let’s hope the man sat in the stand tonight can help nip that particular worry in bud?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano (Leiva Lucas 77), Alonso, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera (Babel 61), Keane (Ngog 71).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Benayoun, Degen.
Atletico Madrid: Franco, Antonio Lopez, Perea, Heitinga, Pernia, Raul Garcia, Paulo Assuncao, Maniche, Maxi, Forlan (Aguero 71), Simao (Luis Garcia 90).
Subs Not Used: Coupet, Sinama Pongolle, Banega, Pablo, Camacho.