Liverpool 3-1 Zenit St Petersburg
0-1 Hulk (19), 1-1 Suarez (28), 2-1 Allen (43), 3-1 Suarez (59)
Liverpool lose tie on away goals
Before this game BR tried to stoke things up with an appeal to the fans to get behind the team and make one of those great European come back nights
The nature and status of this competition would ensure that this would never be up there with say St Etienne however, it was griping affair which, after Luis Suarez beautifully created our third goal, gave hope to fans that have continuely seen such optimism dashed throughout this season. Sadly the outcome was the same however, on this occasion no one should not fault the players and their determination to turn this tie around. Although Zenit prevailed they knew they’d been in a game and must have been eternally grateful that Luis Suarez had chosen not to produce last night’s performance a week ago in Russia?
The signs didn’t really lend themselves to a barnstorming comeback. With Sturridge cup tied and Borini injured BR was forced to rely on Suarez as the one front man once more. Then, after only seventeen minutes any hopes of making Zenit cower in the face of the Anfield roar were dashed as Jamie Carragher, presumably intent on passing back to Reina, completely undercooked it allowing Hulk to break free and slip it home. Should Reina have raced forward more perhaps but the abiding memory was that in making the error Jamie had probably ensured that this would be his last, as well as his 150th, European game.
So seventy one minutes to get four goals. The first needed to be a quick response and it was. Nine minutes after the Zenit goal Agger, after a strong run from his own half, was fouled by Lombaerts. Zenit presumably thinking, that with around an hour on the clock, time wasting tactics were in order and moaned and groaned over the position of the ball and generally farted round. We just bided our time and when they had finished their nonsense Suarez made them pay by smacking a low and hard shot through the end of a wall, that didn’t match the strength of Zenit’s protestations, and into the net.
From then on the only way was forward. Agger nearly connected with Gerrard’s free kick however, with the break imminent, Enrique and Henderson exchanged pleasantries on the left before the ball found Joe Allen. His first effort was saved by Malafeev, in the Zenit goal, however, he made no mistake with the rebound.
I guess the second half presented a dilemma? More goals were needed however in pushing up for them we would leave ourselves open at the back?. It needed to be done Suarez shot wide into the side netting amid appeals for a penalty after Hubocan had handled. However, one always felt it would still be an uphill struggle a pass, when it needed to be decisive would go astray or a cross when it need to be accurate, met a Zenit head or boot. However, such negative beliefs were soon to be dashed!
Neto bought down Suarez. The Uruguayan and Gerrard seemed to take an age over who should take it. The Kop bellowed for the latter however the former stepped up. Whilst his first goal was a simple straight forward punt through the Zenit wall this effort was sublime. No wall or keeper in the land could have stopped the ball as it arced out towards Stanley Park and then swung back towards the City Centre just evading the keepers desperate dive to nestle welcomingly in the net.
Game on and I guess the momentum with us, which is why I would mildly question BR’s decision to disrupt things and make the substitutions he did. Nonetheless half an hour to get the vital goal or may be for Zenit to hit back. Their free kick was a timely reminder that we were susceptible to the sucker punch. Hulk’s low shot, after Agger’s mistake, was also well saved by Reina. In between Suarez wafted a free kick wide when perhaps the angle dictated that it should have been squared for an Agger or Gerrard howitzer? Gerrard shot into the ground but his effort was bundled away by the Zenit defence. Shelvey swooped on a Zenit defenders miscontrol and find the side netting. However, although Liverpool were admirable in reeling them in, Zenit held on, just.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard, Henderson (Assaidi – 59′ ), Downing (Sterling – 84′ ), Lucas, Allen (Shelvey – 59′ Booked ), Suarez Substitutes: Gulacsi, Coates, Wisdom, Sterling, Shelvey, Assaidi, Suso
Zenit St Petersburg: Malafeev, Aniukov, Lombaerts (Criscito – 46′ ), Luis Neto, Hubocan, Danny (Faitzulin – 46′ ), Shirokov, Semak (Rodic – 84′ ), Denisov Booked, Witsel, Hulk Substitutes: Zhevnov, Alves, Criscito, Rodic, Faitzulin, Bukharov, Kerzhakov