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Anfield Online
Wednesday 29th November 2006
at Anfield
FA Premiership


GOALS: none

LIVERPOOL TEAM: (4-4-2) - Jamie Carragher played in the unusual role of central midfield after the reds injury crisis, and El Zhar and Guthrie were called up for substitute duty and both took part in the game.







Pennant ][



Substitutions: Fowler for Crouch (64), El Zhar for Garcia (72), Guthrie for Pennant (84)

Unused Subs: Dudek,Paletta
][ = Yellow Card
Name = goalscorer and time(s)


Portsmouth: James, Pamarot, Primus, Campbell, Taylor, Thompson, Pedro Mendes (Fernandes 69), O'Neil, Hughes, Kranjcar (O'Brien 90), Mwaruwari (Kanu 82). Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Koroman. Booked: Hughes, Thompson, Pamarot.

Att: 42,647
Ref: A Wiley



Crouch tangles...
Nabil El Zhar gets his debut..


Liverpool suffered a bitterly frustrating night at Anfield as Portsmouth's massed defence held them at bay.

Liverpool's injury-ravaged side just could not break down the Pompey rearguard, superbly marshalled by Sol Campbell.

Steven Gerrard tried to be a one-man show but with such little support not even the Liverpool skipper could produce a miracle as Portsmouth's tactics earned them a point.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez picked all three of his centre-backs - Daniel Agger, Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher - as an insurance for a heavily depleted midfield with Bolo Zenden added to the loss of Xabi Alonso and Mohamed Sissoko.

Youngster Danny Guthrie was named on the bench, having previously only played in the Carling Cup while Moroccan forward Nabil El Zhar was involved for the first time.

Craig Bellamy was unavailable due to the late conclusion of his court case in Cardiff where he had been found not guilty on two assault charges earlier in the day.

Portsmouth included Matt Taylor, despite a back problem, while Benjani Mwaruwari was passed fit at the last minute with a knee injury. The visitors were without Sean Davis, Glen Johnson, Lomana LuaLua and Dejan Stefanovic through injury.

It was Carragher in the end who was alongside Gerrard, and he took his new duties to heart by surging forward after just two minutes to lash a 20-yard shot just wide.

Hyypia's long ball then gave Peter Crouch the opportunity to test David James from a similar distance.

Luis Garcia twice, John Arne Riise and then Hyypia - from 25 yards - all produced efforts that went close as Liverpool moved the ball at speed through the Pompey ranks.

But although Liverpool had a vast amount of the possession, they were not getting into dangerous positions through the middle where Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus looked composed.

Gerrard saw a dipping 25 yard free-kick just clear James' bar before Pompey finally got in their first shot of the night - a 25-yard free-kick from Matt Taylor that flew well wide on 30 minutes.

On 35 minutes, Crouch nodded down a Steve Finnan long ball for Gerrard, who cracked an angled 12 yarder just wide.

Finnan then produced another fine cross two minutes later for Luis Garcia to see a flicked header just miss the near post and finish in the side-netting.

James produced a stunning one-handed save from a close-range Luis Garcia effort, the quality not diminished by the fact that a linesman's flag had been raised for offside.

HT: Liverpool 0 Portsmouth 0

After the break Gerrard continued to provide almost all of Liverpool's attacking threat, and an edge-of-the-box shot hit Campbell's elbow and deflected into James' arms. Penalty appeals were waved away by referee Alan Wiley.

Carragher was booked for tugging back Pedro Mendes on 51 minutes before Jermaine Pennant put Gerrard away on the right, his low cross causing trouble for James who was forced to make two saves in quick succession from Luis Garcia.

Pompey were getting more adventurous and Taylor saw a 25-yard shot crash into Riise on the edge of the box. Liverpool then sent on Robbie Fowler on the hour for Crouch.

Manuel Fernandes replaced the injured Mendes and Pennant was booked after the last of several altercations with referee Wiley before both Richard Hughes and David Thompson were both booked for time wasting.

El Zhar came on for his debut in place of Luis Garcia, with Pennant switched to the right flank. Liverpool searching desperately for any chink of a breakthrough.

With eight minutes left Pompey sent on Kanu for Benjani Mwaruwari, Guthrie making his Liverpool league debut in place of Pennant on 84 minutes.

Two minutes from time Gerrard hurled himself at a Dirk Kuyt cross in sheer desperation, the ball flashing into the side netting. Referee Wiley booked Noe Pamarot for time wasting and allowed five minutes added time.

In that spell Campbell had to go off with a split boot, and as Pompey staff searched for a replacement they were on the brink of sending on Andy O'Brien before a spare boot was found for Campbell. O'Brien was then sent on for Niko Kranjar.

Paul Walker

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