Anzhi Makhachkala 1
Traore (44 )
When you write piece like this it always helps if there is an original angle you can come from. Something you can hang the hat of the story on, the antics of Luis Suarez, a dodgy quote or opinion from someone such as Steven Gerrard who, in fairness, has gone beyond the call of duty in this field lately. However, in terms of saying something unique, this current Liverpool side doesn’t make things easy!
So here we go once more another performance which showed promise and plenty of positives but did not manifest itself in the result? There, done!
Nonetheless despite a weakened side, BR made nine changes for Sunday, I would suggest, in terms of possession and skill, we more than held own against a side which sits at the top of the Russian league. Sadly, eventually, with a side so young mistakes will be made and the one that lead the Anzhi goal proved decisive mainly because we created precious little at the other end of the pitch to off set it.
BR remained upbeat and refuted suggestions that we might have won, and thus secured qualification to the knock out stages, had his selection policy favoured more “experienced” players.
“Not at all. I think that is a little disrespectful to the players who are here. They have been magnificent and I thought they did really well and we just got punished for a mistake. That led to us losing the game but I don’t think it was anything to do with Suárez, Gerrard, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel or Daniel Agger not being here. It was just one of those things. We will take it as a team, we are disappointed but there are so many positives from tonight.”
I think the result was everything to do with “Suárez, Gerrard, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel or Daniel Agger not being here” however I don’t blame Rogers, not one bit. Moscow is a long trip and we have Chelsea in the league on Sunday and, at present, that is where our priories lie. As for qualification from the Europa League we still have two games left, against Young Boys and Udinese, to make good.
The game hinged on one goal which came an unfortunate time, just before the break. Traoré got the better of Coates and, before anyone could react, he executed a tricky lob over Brad Jones into the net.
Before this we had shown enough promise. Jonjo Shelvey continued to show that he has the potential to develop from a good player to a really good player with a another mature and responsible performance. However, I guess this game will be remembered for youngsters, such as Conor Coady (making his debut) and Adam Morgan, showing the way, in terms application and commitment, to more experienced players such as Stuart Downing, Joe Cole and Jordon Henderson.
Joe Cole’s rehabilitation, in mind as well as body I suspect, is a slow and painful process and he was subbed on the hour after another damp squib of a game. Jordon Henderson had our best chance when, after a good through ball from Morgan, he found himself one on one with the keeper but opted to pass rather than shoot. It was a puzzling decision however later on in the game we perhaps got a clue as to why Henderson took this option. Late in the second half he was presented with a similar chance. This time he did shoot and the outcome was horrible, the ball probably came down with Moscow snow on it. This flies in the face of Henderson’s pre match comments about him being confident of establishing himself in the team. Sadly his performance showed all the signs of a player who is anything but confident?
It is perhaps unreasonable to expect Adam Morgan, making only his second appearance, to lead line he hit the side netting and played a major part in our sustained attempts to get an equaliser. Suso went close and Joe Cole fluffed the resulting rebound however, it was the same old story, plenty of nice, easy on the eye stuff but not decisive punch, no end product to ram home the advantage. We nearly paid for this again late in the second half when Traore ran on to a through ball but fluffed the resulting one on one with Jones by planting his shot wide of the post.
Anzhi Makhachkala: Gabulov , Samba, Carlos, Tagirbekov, Logashov, Boussoufa, Jucilei, Zhirkov, Ahmedov (Gonzalez – 29′ ), Eto’o, Traore (Smolov – 80′ ) Substitutes: Pomazan, Gadzhibekov, Agalarov, Lakhiyalov, Gonzalez (Lakhiyalov – 90′ ), Smolov, Burmistrov
Liverpool: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Flanagan Booked, Wisdom, Cole (Assaidi – 77′), Henderson, Downing, Shelvey Booked, Coady (Suso – 61′ ), Morgan (Pacheco – 61′ ) Substitutes: Gulacsi, Wilson, Sama, Robinson, Assaidi, Pacheco, Suso