Football can be more than cruel at times.
Despite a dismal first half the reds found themselves 1-0 up at half time. Followed by a far improved second half which ended up with the reds suffering injury time heartbreak to lose 2-1.
Liverpool, playing a slightly weakened side did more than enough to win this game in a match that some Liverpool fans will have taken some positives from.
The reds were already confirmed to be heading in to the Europa League before the game and Cavalieri and Darby both got rare starts in goal and right back respectively. Carragher was rested and Skrtel and Agger formed the centre-back partnership. Andrea Dossena also made an experience on the left of midfield – with Italian opposition this was clearly an opportunity to put him in the shop window.
But all eyes were on Liverpool’s number 4 – Alberto Aquilani – making his full Liverpool debut partnering Mascherano in the reds centre.
Aquilani’s early touches impressed in an otherwise scrappy first half, devoid of many chances for both teams. Agger seemed to have his mind elsewhere, playing a number of poor backpasses that Cavalieri had to chase to get to before the Fiorentina attack.
As the half drew to a close the reds were awarded a free kick at the corner of the box. Gerrard whipped in and Benayoun’s header steered the ball in to the net.
The second half some far more expansive play from Liverpool, with much crisper passing and movement.
Somewhat against the run of play Gilardino and Jorgensen combined to give the Italians an equaliser.
The reds continued to attack and the arrival of Torres on to the field brought a new sense of purpose to Liverpool – the number 9 almost having an immediate impact as he showed exactly what Liverpool have been missing. Alberto Aquilani made way for Dani Pacheco as Liverpool moved to a 4-4-2 formation – switching Gerrard back to central midfield. Pacheco’s hunger was evident – his first touch a rasping shot that was touched narrowly wide by the keeper.
Despite all this better play, the 2nd goal wouldn’t come. At least, not for Liverpool.
In the final minute of injury time, Fiorentina pounced on a mistake from Stephen Darby to fire a cruel winner.
Liverpool fans will be looking to the positives.
Post Match Comments
“The result and the way it happened just about sums up our Champions League campaign.
“Another last-minute goal, and we are disappointed with that for the third time in this group.
“We worked so hard against Fiorentina and we had chances – they are the only positives we can take from the game.
“To see Aquilani, to see Torres, those were the real positive things for the next match and the rest of our season.
“Aquilani showed his quality, his touch was good. His vision and passing were good but obviously he will have to work on his match fitness.”
Shots: 7 (5 on target) [Fiorentina – 10 (7 on target)]
Corners: 9 [Fiorentina – 7]
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Darby, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Aquilani (Pacheco 76), Mascherano (Aurelio 86), Benayoun, Gerrard, Dossena, Kuyt (Torres 65)
Unused subs: Reina, Carragher, Spearing, Kyrgiakos
Goals: Benayoun 42
Fiorentina: Frey, Pasqual, Kroldrup, Natali, Comotto, Donadel, Montolivo, De Silvestr (Castillo 83), Santan (Marchionni 72), Jorgensen (Vargas 72), Gilardino
Unused subs: Seculin, Avramov, Aya, Carraro
Goals: Jorgensen 62, Gilardino 91
Our Man of the Match
Nobody was outstanding but on balance, for impressing so much on a difficult debut we’ve plumped for Aquilani.