TNS 0-3 LIVERPOOL (0-6 AGG)
Gerrard 85, 86
Liverpool had to call on skipper Steven Gerrard as they struggled to break down a brave TNS side in the second leg of their Champions League first qualifier second leg.
For long spells the Welsh side had performed heroics to leave Liverpool with faces as red as their shirts.
With Peter Crouch waiting in the wings, Liverpool were humbled and never able to produce the goal feast boss Rafael Benitez had demanded.
Gerrard came off the bench to score twice in the dying minutes to add to his hat-trick from the first leg after Djibril Cisse's opener, but even then it could not take away the glory from the Welsh champions who played their hearts out and even hit a post, seeing another effort ruled marginally offside with Liverpool rocking.
Once again TNS' hero was goalkeeper Gerard Doherty, who produced another string of fine saves to cap his display last week at Anfield. TNS took a well-deserved lap of honour at the end of a night they will never forget.
Liverpool had left Gerrard and Fernando Morientes on the bench and were made to toil for long periods by another spirited display by the defiant Welsh club.
In came Cisse up front, Dietmar Hamann in midfield and Boudewijn Zenden on the left as Liverpool secured a trip to Kaunas for the second qualifier next Tuesday after the Lithuanian champions' convincing 8-2 aggregate victory earlier in the day against Faroe Islanders Torshaven.
But TNS were only thinking about their pride and making every last second of their week in the spotlight one to remember.
They started with confidence, composure and enthusiasm for the ball. John Toner, a former Anfield trainee, produced movement and pace up front and Steven Beck - a former Everton youth team-mate of Wayne Rooney but a die-hard Liverpool fan - found space and time for some neat passing.
Only a crunching Jamie Carragher tackle stopped Toner in the box after a Martin Naylor pass, but TNS' intent on more attacking than they showed at Anfield left the gaps. Twice Doherty stopped Cisse in the opening minutes, needing to dive at the Frenchman's feet after his searing pace had taken him clear onto passes from John Arne Riise and Anthony Le Tallec.
But TNS were intent on giving Liverpool something to think about. Jamie Wood got past Steve Finnan and wasted the angle for a shot, and Martin Naylor raced to the line seconds later to see his cross charged down by Riise. Liverpool knew they were in a game by now.
Liverpool were being made to work harder than they would have liked, they lost possession too easily and had Benitez on the line demanding more urgency.
But after 26 minutes a mistake by Chris King allowed Cisse to send Liverpool ahead. Zenden's cross eluded King and reached Cisse in the box, Steve King missed his tackle and the big striker lashed the ball past Doherty.
T.N.S.: Doherty, Naylor, King, Baker, Evans (Jackson 78), Holmes, Ruscoe, Beck (Ward 68), Toner, Hogan, Wood (Lloyd-Williams 58).
Subs Not Used: Acton, Wilde, Lawless, Leah.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Riise, Cisse, Le Tallec (Luis Garcia 58), Alonso (Gerrard 67), Hamann, Carragher (Whitbread 53), Zenden, Potter.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Josemi, Warnock, Morientes.
Ref: Carlo Bertolini (Switzerland).
All audio and video requires RealPlayer and is from the BBC unless otherwise stated.
|Match Report filed: 20 July 2005|