Liverpool 2-0 FC Internazionale
On the whole I feel it was a superb performance by The Reds who completely out shone the Italian Champions. Milan had not been beaten in all competitions for five months facing teams such as AC Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina, for a team who failed to beat Barnsley at the weekend and who have been on a very bad run of form over the last two months this was as big an upset as the Barnsley game itself.
I feel all players had a great night and all thoroughly deserved a man of the match award. However if I had to choose who it went to then I feel that Javier Mascherano takes the prize. True he never set up any goals or created memorable scoring chances but when Stevie Gerrard made his surging runs forward to help out Torres and Lucas made his regular trips to the wings to help out Kuyt and Babel then Mascherano dominated the central midfield and stopped Inter building a good offence from the heart of the team. I would also like to make special mention of Ryan Babel. He played a fantastic game of football and had Crouchie been on from kick off then I feel The Reds would have scored more than two as Crouchie dominated the aerial route once he came on. And as always Captain Fantastico has to get a mention. He didn’t play his best game for Liverpool; in fact he was pretty quiet for 70 minutes but once the Reds started to mount some pressure and sensed a goal he stepped up to the plank and ended up scoring a goal in the quality of the infamous Olympiacos saviour goal.
Of course all the Evertonians and the Mancs will base our victory on the red card received by Marco Materazzi. I must admit I don’t feel the second offence was deserving of a yellow card but if he wasn’t booked for that then surely he would have been booked later on in the game as he was fouling Torres a lot in the first half hour.
There’s no doubt that the team has come under tremendous pressure over the last two months with their failure to win easy games and their shocking two conceded goals against Havent and Waterlooville. But if the Inter game will have any effect then it will result in a light up tempo atmosphere in the home dressing room as the players know that they have done the hardest thing for a team in a lack of form. They won, and against the Italian champions. Perhaps now some of the pressure on Rafa Benitez’s shoulders will lift and the team will begin to perform again where it matters. On the pitch.
The Bad News
Although Rafa got his tactics right on the night there were three things he did which I strongly disagree with. Firstly the substitution in which he took Babel off and brought Pennant on was a stupid move as Babel was one of our best players on the pitch at the time and once Pennant came on he had no influence on the game what so ever. Ok, so he put in the cross to Kuyt for the first goal but, other than that what did he do. Secondly, the choice to play Lucas Leiva from the start was indeed a bold one. In my opinion Lucas is much too young to be given that responsibility, even though in his last few appearances he has shown tremendous development and has begun to grasp the pace of the Premiership. Finally, Dirk Kuyt is a striker. Although he eventually scored from the position he should not have been played out on the wing as he showed he is not a winger by some of the crosses he put into the box.