Saturday 26th April 2008 @ 3pm
A sorry looking second string Liverpool side handed relegation threatened Birmingham City a 2 goal cushion before re-awakening late on to snatch a draw that could help seal European qualification.
The reds have little to play for in the league, and without an important clash coming up Benitez rested several key players from the line up.
In total there were nine changes to the reds side from last Tuesday. Reina kept his place as he is on course to have played every minute of every Liverpool league game this season. Skrtel also made the team-sheet.
There were little chances either way in the opening stages of the second half although Birmingham managed the better shots on target. Eventually McFadden tricked Riise and sent over the cross which Forsell lashed home.
In the second half the reds looked like they had finally turned up, but it was Skrtel’s foul on ex-Everton boy James McFadden which led to the goal. Sebastian Larsson scored a tremendous long range free kick and the Brum faithful felt the game was won.
Pennant, who had a decent game against his old club, set up Crouch for an easy side-foot to give Liverpool some hope of avoiding a 5th league defeat of the season. The reds were moving up a gear now, and Birmingham looked likely to crack.
With 15 minutes left they did just that. Liverpool pressure told as a goal that will be credited to either Benayoun or Jaidi as an own goal was a bitter pill to swallow for the home fans.
A poor reds performance, but resilience is certainly there across the entire squad. The focus shifts to mid-week and Chelsea.
Pictures from today’s game
Post Match Reaction
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
“The team was controlling the game in the first half but we conceded a goal that changed things a bit.
“The second goal gave them more hope and we needed to score and did so.
“We scored the second goal with a bit of luck but we created enough chances to win. The players showed character and quality.”
Alex McLeish, Birmingham boss:
“My feelings are a little bit mixed. I’m angry, particularly with the first goal we let in. There was a bit of naivety and it cost us dearly.
“Their second was a bit scrappy but they had the smell of blood.
“We didn’t throw away two points but Liverpool earned it. But what I did get was a great reaction from the players after the loss to Aston Villa.”
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise (Insua 64), Pennant, Plessis, Lucas, Benayoun, Crouch, Voronin.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Gerrard, Kuyt, Carragher.
Goals: Crouch 63, Benayoun 76.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell (Queudrue 77), Murphy, Larsson, Muamba, Nafti, Kapo (McSheffrey 77), Forssell (Zarate 87), McFadden. Subs Not Used: Doyle, Jerome.
Booked: Murphy, Nafti.
Goals: Forssell 34, Larsson 55.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).