FA Cup 4th Round Replay
Wednesday 4th February 2009, 8.10pm
Everton eventually got the better of a Liverpool side reduced to ten men, with a goal in the final moments of extra time in the FA Cup 4th round replay. After 2 draws in the last couple of weeks the expectancy was for another tight game. Gerrard and Torres both started, which raised an eyebrow amongst some – me included, as the expectation of 120 minutes of football was high on my mind.
Aurelio was out of the squad and Dossena replaced him, and Lucas replaced Mascherano in the middle of the park. The suggestion before the game was that as Mascherano and Gerrard were both one card away from suspension losing them both for a league game was a distinct possibility.
In any case Liverpool started brightly in terms of possession and while we were expecting Everton to be a bit more expansive than at Anfield they stuck to their defensive guns for most of the first half of the game.
On the 15 minute mark though it became evident that Gerrard was struggling, clutching his hamstring and he asked to be withdrawn. Benayoun was sent on with Kuyt moving more centrally and the Everton fans roared a standing ovation at Gerrard’s injury. Yossi got in to the game relatively quickly although couldn’t get the final ball through a packed Everton backline. Osman launched a shot over the bar, but the first half was one of wasteful Liverpool set pieces – Xabi Alonso and Andrea Dossena two of the reds main culprits – overhitting free kicks, crosses, corners left right and centre.
Pienaar was handing out rough justice to any passing Liverpool player and Cahill was booked for an elbow on Carragher. There was little sympathy when eventually Pienaar landed himself a yellow card, and his very next challenge resulted in him requiring treatment.
At the start of the second half, the Everton ‘sock robbers’ will have thought all their Christmases had come at once when they were treated to a free sock event from the Liverpool fans – but on the pitch the reds were still in charge. Kuyt fired a header but couldn’t get the required power, and both he and Torres got in excellent positions only to see their shots blocked.
In the 70th minute Everton got their first shot on target, when a decent move by Cahill left Osman a banker to score but he hit the post and the reds breathed a sigh of relief.
In the 76th minute Liverpool’s gameplan fell apart when the reds second central midfielder left the pitch. This time there would be no sub coming on – as Leiva was sent off for two yellow cards. Overall harsh on the player to be dismissed looking at both challenges, but these things happen.
Riera was taken off and Mascherano brought on but Everton sensed their chance to make the most of their advantage.
Torres had looked like he was struggling all game, but was left on – but the reds had no real outlet so were under constant pressure, although the defence held resolute.
The game wore on in to extra time and Everton were getting closer. Babel was sent on for Torres but despite some enterprise didn’t really see enough of the ball. With 2 minutes left to go 19 year old Dan Gosling got the shot in, and after taking two grazing deflections, which unfortunately didn’t alter the eventual target of the shot sneaked past Reina in the reds goal. Everton celebrated and 19 year old Gosling got the match ball in a game that will mark him down in Everton folklore.
It’s been a battling three games but it will be Everton who progress to the 5th round of the FA Cup with Aston Villa their opponents.
Liverpool have to dust down their injuries and get back to the title charge and look ahead to two games against Real Madrid.
Liverpool: Reina, Dossena, Carragher, Skrtel, Arbeloa, Kuyt, Alonso, Gerrard (Benayoun 16), Leiva Lucas, Riera (Mascherano 80), Torres (Babel 101).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger, El Zhar.
Sent Off: Leiva Lucas (76).
Booked: Leiva Lucas, Alonso.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Fellaini (Gosling 52), Neville (Van der Meyde 106), Arteta, Pienaar (Rodwell 60), Cahill.
Subs Not Used: Nash, Yobo, Castillo, Jacobsen.
Booked: Cahill, Pienaar, Neville, Arteta, Hibbert.
Goals: Gosling 118.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).