There was a point in and around the 65th minute when, after cutting Liverpool’s defense open far too easily with a mesmerizing passing move, Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema shared a chuckle with his team-mates after coming within inches of helping his side add a fourth goal. At times it was just that easy.
Following an opening twenty minutes in which the hosts pressed their Spanish guests with the kind of gusto one would expect from a team managed by Brendan Rodgers, a moment of brilliance from Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a sublime effort before the floodgates swung open. While the worlds best player showed his class with the opener, what followed was, and it hurts to say this, what is becoming part and parcel of the Liverpool experience.
Liverpool traveled to London yesterday needing a win to get their season well and truly rolling, and despite deserving less than nothing from a match that bottom of the barrel Queens Park Rangers dominated throughout, they left the Capital with all three points and a bump into fifth place. Sometimes, I suppose, you get what you need.
A lack of composure from serial own-goal scorer Richard Dunne following a quickly taken Reds free-kick saw the Irishman divert Raheem Sterling’s low cross past Hoops ‘keeper Alex McCarthy to open the scoring. The hosts were knocking hard on Liverpool’s door all day and there was little surprise when they pulled level through Eduardo Vargas when he smashed home a knock-down from Charlie Austin. A 1-1 draw looked to be a good result for either side, but the calamity that followed no one could have predicted.
We never looked comfortable holding a one goal lead with just under a half hour left to play, but it came as something of a surprise to see Liverpool hang on to beat West Bromwich Albion and claim their first win since demolishing Tottenham Hotspur at the end of August. Three points — finally.
It was a whole lot of the same for much of the first half until Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson combined in stoppage time to send the Reds into the break with the lead and the former Southampton captain to the locker room with his first goal since moving to Anfield over the summer. Saido Berahino made no mistake from the spot after being gifted a penalty that never was, but Liverpool fought back with Raheem Sterling centering for Henderson to pass the ball through three Baggies players and into the net for the winner.
With the spectre of facing defending Champions League holders Real Madrid home and away up next, these are troubling times indeed for Liverpool.
The Reds hopes of navigating their way out of Group B and into the knock-out rounds of the Champions League were dealt a major blow with a 1-0 reversal at the hands of FC Basel in Switzerland last night. Marco Streller scored a poachers goal after embattled ‘keeper Simon Mignolet initially prevented an own goal following Martin Skrtel’s inexplicable header towards his own goal from a dangerous corner kick. Defensive error — the on-going hallmark of the Anfield outfit — aside, the visitors created little in the way of problems for their welcoming hosts as the Swiss side kept their rather impressive record against English opposition alive and well.
Football isn’t a funny old game, as the old adage might lead you to believe — it’s days like these that you know it’s a cruel one.
Steven Gerrard sent Anfield into raptures with a trademark free-kick that all but put a stamp on Liverpool’s dominance in a tense Merseyside Derby, but Phil Jagielka’s picture perfect injury-time blast from a full thirty-yards out left the boys on the Kop slack-jawed as it swerved past a diving Simon Mignolet at speed before bulging the top corner. It wasn’t the banishment of 15-years of Anfield misery Everton so hoped for prior to kick-off, but with three points looking certain to be added to their neighbours tally, it’s better than they expected — and far more than they deserved.