Liverpool made the trip up to Elland Road for the first time in more than five years to take on a Leeds United side who have started their season very well. Top of League 1 and unbeaten in the league, this could have been a plethora of banana skins for Liverpool’s squad players.
But that wasn’t to be. And one squad player for the reds was to make certain of that.
A lot of people will say this competition doesn’t hold much weight. But you have to think silverware and obviously the reds want to win anything they compete for. Add to the fact that this competition gives a valuable chance for the fringe players to show what they can do against tough, tricky opposition, then it really is very important. Both for players’ experience and confidence amongst the squad when they’re called upon.
The game started off at a high tempo and the expected determined attitude from the Leeds players was there to see. There was plenty of atmosphere as the Leeds fans were witnessing a Premiership club in attendance for the first time since May 2004. Liverpool tried to get into some sort of control but the final ball seemed to be lacking. And in turn this invited pressure.
On 11 minutes, Snodgrass found himself unmarked in the Liverpool box with a free header but his attempt on goal went wide. It was certainly a let off for the Liverpool defence. But the warning wasn’t taken on board and moments later Leeds had a goal disallowed.
Beckford was deemed offside when some poor Liverpool defending led to the Leeds player only needing Cavalieri to beat just yards away from the goal line. Certainly a talking point but these decisions will always come and go around.
Liverpool knew they had to start to get a grip on the game after this and we did start to pass the ball with a bit more accuracy and intention. But with lone striker Ngog up front, he was often found wanting when the final ball didn’t arrive with such quality.
On 30 minutes, Babel took it upon himself to inject some pace into our attack and went on a brilliant run into the Leeds box. But again, that final bit of quality wasn’t there when he cheaply shot towards goal and the Leeds keeper saved with ease.
It was looking like one of those nights where you start to wonder where the goal will come from. But Ngog was trying his best, even though he found himself with his back to goal, competing with tough defenders, on more than a few occasions.
Add to that the vulnerability Liverpool showed down our left side when Dossena once again displayed that he’s not best used as a defender. And Riera drifting in and out of the game ahead of him. This gave Leeds a focus point to attack in the first half.
But it was Riera who was to give Leeds a reminder that you can’t take anything for granted when Aurelio is taking free kicks. On 44 minutes Aurelio whipped in a superb free kick into the Leeds box which Riera rose to meet the ball but it unfortunately fired directly at the Leeds keeper for him to stop it.
The second half kicked off and it seemed to take on the same flow as the first half. Leeds looking dangerous on the counter attack and Liverpool trying to press but with no real venomous threat.
On 54 minutes Beckford raced onto a long ball but failed to beat the confident Liverpool keeper Cavalieri. Beckford once again threatened on 63 minutes but shot just wide.
But the deadlock was broken minutes later thanks to a superb determined David Ngog turn and shot.
On 65 minutes Mascherano picks up the ball just yards outside the Leeds box and unleashes a mis-hit shot from his shin. David Ngog is in the line of fire but takes the ball under control with ease. He turns his defender in a flash and before you know it, the ball is in the back of the net and he’s celebrating his well deserved goal.
After Ngog’s goal, Liverpool started to gain more confidence and had more control of the game. Leeds did try to press as they had done before but players like Babel, Spearing and Mascherano really started to influence the game more.
Another talking point of the game was when Mascherano seemingly appeared to swing out at a Leeds player. Of course, Mascherano has eyes in the back of his head and football isn’t a mans game anymore is it?
Johnson and Gerrard were later called upon to give Leeds some food for thought. Fernando Torres was even ready to come on with five minutes left but the Liverpool striker was sent back to the bench as Liverpool had full control in the dying minutes.
All in all, Leeds didn’t take their chances. Regardless of any decisions that could of easily gone either way. What mattered most was the sublime finishing of young Liverpool striker David Ngog to put Liverpool in the next round of the League Cup.
Post Match Comments
‘It was a good game. They had some chances, we had some chances. At the end we won with a lot of players who haven’t been playing.
It is a difficult stadium to come to. They’ve won many games in a row. In these types of games it is very important to keep the mentality and character.
I am really pleased with my team, with my squad. We showed we can manage with different players. For the rest of the season it is important to know you have players who can come in and perform.
It was a great goal. He showed quality. He is a player with quality who has very good movement, but also here he was fighting against a big lad. It’s very positive for him and for the team.
As I said before, players who aren’t normally playing showed character and quality.’
Teams and Stats
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Dossena, Carragher (captain), Kyrgiakos, Degen, (Johnson 71) Aurelio, Spearing, Mascherano, Riera, Babel, (Skrtel 90) Ngog (Gerrard 78).
Unused Subs – Torres, Plessis, Voronin, Reina
Goals: David N’gog 65
Leeds United: Higgs, Hughes, (Kilkenny 78) Kisnorbo, Michalik, Crowe, Johnson, Doyle, (Showunmi 88) Howson (captain), Snodgrass, Beckford, Becchio (Grella 81).
Unused Subs – Ankergen, Naylor, Prutton, Robinson,
Referee: Alan Wiley