OBYs Dugout – Sunderland & Benfica

Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland

Well, a very controversial 2-1 defeat to the Mancs last Sunday, hopefully this week’s super Sunday clash with Sunderland at Anfield would bring a better result, or at least a better result than our last match with Sunderland in which a famous red beach ball spelt defeat for the reds.

Our team saw a seemingly injury free reds for the first time in a few months with preferred stars like Johnson, Torres and Agger starting. Still another bench warming session for Aquilani as well as Benayoun who took up a seat on the bench for kick off.

Well it didn’t take the reds long to breach the away side’s defences. Torres with a run which took him to an apparently impossible angle. However, as always the super Spaniard delivers a beautiful curling ball into Craig Gordon’s top left corner to make it 1-0 to Liverpool. Can’t really say it even looked like changing as all the way through the first half the away side were on the back foot. It got even worse for the black cats when the ball falls to Johnson outside the area, after a neat turn to fool Malbranque he launches a thunderous shot from his weaker left foot into the top corner with the help of a ‘small’ deflection. Now normally I analyse a few efforts from each team, but let’s be honest, Liverpool had too many to analyse and Sunderland had none to analyse, so I think it’s fairer to progress into the second half.

So a very positive first half had Reds fans looking forward to the 2nd and with every reason because the mighties picked up where they left off. They kept up the pressure on the away side who eventually crumbled on the hour mark when a great through ball by Johnson was flicked up by Torres who let it bounce before dinking it over the sliding defender and keeper to make it 3-0 and round off an outstanding performance for the reds.

So another round of premiership matches polished off and unfortunately Liverpool still not in a great position for the illusive fourth spot seeing as how both city and Spurs have a game in hand and Spurs are 4 points ahead meanwhile City sit 2 points ahead. All is not lost though, City do need to play United once more who are gunning for the title so there’s a potential loss, as for Tottenham, they still have matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and United to go, not to mention the big match between City and Tottenham. So it could all change, either way, it will be a very interesting climax to the season.

SL Benfica 2-1 Liverpool

Well, the Europa League Quarter Final draw sends Liverpool to a stadium were in 2006, our attempt to retain the Champions League began to falter. A goal from Luisao that night gave Benfica a 1-0 lead for the second leg which was wrapped up with a 2-0 win at Anfield leaving the reds deflated and out of Europe. Reds fans, were hoping for better results this time round.

The team was what everyone was expecting, Lucas to play in the absence of Maxi and Kuyt playing out on the right wing allowing Gerrard to support Torres. Ryan Babel who is now starting to get a string of constant matches under his belt took up his place out on the left- for the first half hour at least.

So the night started well for Liverpool when on 8 minutes a low free kick from Gerrard was put away by Agger very cheekily with the back heel putting the visitors 1-0 up and giving the Merseysiders hope. But as we often see with Liverpool, we score and don’t capitalise, therefore I don’t think it was a shock when all the play was suddenly happening in the Liverpool half of the pitch and all the pressure piled on Liverpool. At one point the commentator said “another night and they could of had four.” I can’t argue with that when you look at the chances Benfica missed, Just a succession of poor headers and awful finishing had kopites worried as the feeling that a goal was imminent grew. 4 years ago, Luisao provided the moment which decided the way the game went, tonight it looks like he did it again when he went running straight through Torres he should surely of been sent off, but a confrontation with Babel saw the yellow card flashed twice and the red card flashed once. As great confusion erupted it was made clear the 2nd yellow was to confirm Luisao’s booking, and the red was for Babel. What was Babel’s crime? Putting a hand on Luisao, ok yes that was a stupid thing to do but if Babel was sent off for that, surely Luisao should have been sent off for the challenge on Torres. So a goal up and a man down, Liverpool were happy to make it to half time with their lead intact.

For the second half and Liverpool really needed to improve after their rather lacklustre performance in the first half. We didn’t see this improvement though as the extra man really influenced play. Eventually it took a penalty to the home side on the hour mark conceived when Insua took Aimar’s leg away from him. Very similar to Puyol on Fabregas on Wednesday night. Cardozo who could have easily had a hat trick in the first half put the penalty just too far out of Reina’s reach to make the scores 1-1. Again Benfica came storming at Liverpool and even though the game began to open up a little bit with the ball finding Torres down in Benfica’s half every now and again, all the major chances were still going to the home side. 77 minutes gone, 47 of them with only 10 men, and then… Jamie Carragher makes a stupid mistake by putting his hand in the way of the ball and gifting Benfica a second penalty and the chance to seal the game. Once again Cardozo steps up and gives Benfica a 2-1 lead to take to Anfield.

So a 2-1 defeat in the Estadio De Luz doesn’t leave Liverpool in an awful position, Dan Agger’s away goal proving priceless for us in the end.  The only thing left to comment on really is the disgraceful behaviour of the Benfica fans during the second half, I understand passion for the game and love for the club, but their actions were just disgusting. I personally can’t wait to see UEFA’s reaction to the events of last night.

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