Everyone wants to win a trophy and it is disappointing to go out of any competition. However, it’s a debatable point that many long term tears will shed at our exit from this particular one.
Sorry, perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but everything about the Europa League stinks. That’s from the crappy format to the awful scheduling, which is an insult to the fans, right down Channel Five’s woefully inept silk purse out of a sow’s ear coverage, who are they trying to kid?
No doubt naysayers will say we get what we deserve. Fair enough but right now with the way the English domestic trophies look like being settled, it looks like we will face a almightily fight if we are to experience the delights of Thursday night football next season. I for one won’t be too miffed we’ll just have to concentrate on the domestic treble!
This was a game that needed someone to wire it up and pump 40,000 vaults through it. However, despite us having every motivation to do so after the first leg, no one in a red shirt was able to provide the inspirational spark to break down a well organised Braga side.
Kenny answered the speculation by starting with Andy Carroll. Joe Coe was drafted in for his usually European role. In the back four Wilson was given another chance. We made a good start with Joe Cole going close from Carroll’s knock down. Later Carroll himself had a header that just went wide and was then involved in a good move that nearly set up Maxi had he not been offside. Carroll had a fair full debut and was probably only the positive in the game. He looked up for it and very much involved. There were times when he and Kuyt looked unsure as to what they were going to do next but presumably that will come with time?
Despite the good start the game slowly began to contradict the urgency of the situation. There was none of the up and at ‘em, we’re at home, break neck tempo that we’ve seen so often when we’ve been chasing a first leg deficit at home. We did seemed too content to take the easy option and play it long for Carroll and although this took out a big chunk of Braga’s defensive line, perhaps it would have been better to mix it up and keep the opposition guessing, a bit more width for example? As it was there wasn’t much happening our moves lacked punch and penetration. Braga seemed content to sit back and defend their lead and must have been pleasantly surprised that they were allowed to do so without too much difficulty.
If Kenny gave his side a half time talking to it certainly didn’t show in the second. There were a few lame shots or headers at goal but once more Braga were unruffled. Slowly as the clock ticked down the crowd, which had been patient, began to get restless. Ngog came on with twenty or so minutes to go and injected a bit of urgency and was unlucky right at the death not to get on the end of Meireles’ free kick.
Before that Carroll hit the back of Dirk Kuyt with a good goal bound header from a corner. It summed up our night and probably our prospects playing in Europe next season?
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Wilson, Carragher, Skrtel, Meireles, Cole (Ngog 75), Maxi (Spearing 76), Lucas, Kuyt, Carroll, Substitutes: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Flanagan, Spearing, Poulsen, Pacheco, Ngog
Braga: Artur, Alberto Rodriguez, Paulao, Miguel Garcia, Silvio, Leandro Salino (Mossoro 89), Hugo Viana, Vandinho (Kaka 73), Paulo Cesar, Lima (Meyong 84), Alan Substitutes: Cristiano , Kaka, Dani, Mossoro, Peterson, Helder Barbosa, Meyong