Liverpool – losing on penalties? It does happen, and the Barclays Asia Trophy went to Portsmouth who made the most of Liverpool’s failure from the penalty spot.
Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun have obviously yet to learn the Liverpool penalty way as they both failed to convert their penalties.
The tournament however has boosted the reds profile in Hong Kong and Liverpool were fortunate to receive international clearance allowing Torres and Babel to play just minutes before kick off.
The Liverpool boss was not unduly worried by the outcome, saying: “Anyone can miss a penalty so I’m not going to attach blame.”
However, he will be concerned that Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Torres all failed to beat James in normal time as Liverpool created more than enough chances to bury their opponents.
It is a profligacy they cannot afford as they look to close the gap on Manchester United and Chelsea.
Benitez added: “We have to improve but we had plenty of possession and chances. I just think we need to be fitter. It’s disappointing to lose but it has been a useful tournament for us.”
Kuyt was the culprit in the first half, missing the target when well-placed on three occasions and then directing a downward header at James after Jermaine Pennant’s cross found him unmarked on the edge of the box.
Liverpool next play in the Rotterdam tournament.
Portsmouth: James, Traore, Campbell (c), Distin, Cranie, Taylor, Mendes, O’Neill, Muntari, Mwaruwari, Nugent. Subs – Begovic, Hreidarsson, Kranjcar, Lua Lua, Mvuemba, O’Brien, Pamarot, Stefanovic, Utaka, ,
Liverpool: Reina, Riise, Agger, Hyypia (c), Finnan, Kewell, Alonso, Sissoko, Pennant, Babel, Kuyt. Subs – Arbeloa, Benayoun, Carragher, Carson, Crouch, Gerrard MBE, Leiva, Martin, Threlfall, Torres, Voronin
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Goals and Highlights
Available in the 2007/08 Goals thread