Well the Champions League began and the expectations of another European tour were there for all to see, well they were until the match started and the Reds returned to the lethargic approach we’ve seen too often this season.
Rafa stuck with the same side that demolished Burnley on Saturday but it honestly looked like two completely different sides. Against the Clarets we were quick, calm and attacked with a purpose, tonight we just looked clumsy in possession. There was no real penetration coming from anybody, the delivery from the wide areas wasn’t there and all too often we wasn’t troubling their keeper enough.
We had a few chances, most of which fell to the left foot of Albert Riera. But our number 11 wasn’t in fine shooting form tonight, dragged a few wide and only tested Debrecen when their keeper made a standard save look difficult. I began to get the feeling it would just be one of those nights where we wouldn’t score if there was an open goal. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and after their keeper parried Torres’ effort back into the danger area, Dirk Kuyt was on hand to score his second goal in as many games. It was very much like the goal against Burnley in the sense that he was following up the rebound like a good goal-poacher.
Before our breakthrough the Hungarians did pose a threat and had a few half chances but nothing clear-cut. They also tried to be inventive from their set pieces but nothing came of them luckily for the men in Red. Or on tonight’s performance should that be boys in Red? I don’t know.
Second half was a drag, we seemed to be walking through treacle. Again very slow and had the away side possessed a forward who could shoot rather than just work hard, they may have reaped the rewards for some pretty average defending. But in truth we never looked like conceding, it just wasn’t a very assured performance from the back four.
Ahead of them was just as bad though. The partnership of Gerrard and Lucas, which worked so well at the weekend, never got going at all tonight. Benayoun had flashes of his weekend form but certainly nowhere near as consistent. Riera was invisible in the second half, I forgot he was still on the pitch at one point. While Kuyt was very much in the same, invisible, boat as Riera for the second half. Torres again wasn’t as sharp as he can be and it may be down to two full seasons without a break, only problem is we’ve no one to replace him.
The bench was hardly brimming with talent either to try and liven the game up. When called upon Ryan Babel did show a few signs of his first season form but would then follow it up with last year’s form. Though I suppose it was a good enough cameo performance. Mascherano came on and for the short time he was on lost his bearings, switched off and it resulted in the visitors getting a corner in the dying seconds after Masch had made up for his lack of awareness with a trademark tackle in the left back area. The other substitution was a welcomed one as Fabio Aurelio made his first appearance of the season.
Overall it was a poor show by Liverpool. Sloppy with the ball, especially at the back and out wide. Countless times the delivery was a waste, only one decent cross I remember and it resulted in Lucas heading wide from about 7 or 8 yards out. But we’ve come away with three points and got our Champions League campaign up and running, or maybe up and stuttering would be more accurate. Either way it’s three wins on the spin now and hopefully we’ll rediscover the form we showed against Burnley when we come against another claret and blue side, in the shape of West Ham, this weekend.
Post Match Comments
“We have confidence and we are winning games now which is important for the players.
“To start the Champions League group stage with three points was always the most important thing and hopefully we’ll see better things in the next game.
“We had some chances, we didn’t take them and as a result we put ourselves under pressure at the end.””It was a game against a side who were working hard and were well organised. We scored too late in the first-half, so it was more difficult and at the end of the game it was the same.
“We were in control in the first half and they didn’t have too many options. The difference was that we couldn’t score the second goal. But I am really pleased because in the end we won.
“They have good players and are well organised. We knew it could be difficult. I said before we’d have to see how they played against a top side and they showed they are a good team.
“We knew we had to score an early goal and change the game. We didn’t and if that happens the other team keeps working hard until the end.”
Teams and Match Stats
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Riera, Gerrard (captain), Leiva, Benayoun, Torres, Kuyt. Subs – Spearing, Babel, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Cavalieri, Mascherano, Voronin
Goals: Kuyt (45)
Debrecen: Poleksic, Fodor, Komlosi, Meszaros, Bodnar, Szakaly, Kiss (captain), Ramos, Czvitkovics, , Coulibaly. Subs – Pantic, Bernath, Katona, Olah, Feczesin, Laczko, Szucs
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Por)