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Liverpool barely makes it throught to CL

Lance Knight2010-05-02 23:35:08 +0000 #1
Maccabi Haifa 1-1 Liverpool

Liverpool stumbled into Friday's Champions League group stages draw in Monaco after claiming a draw in Kiev.

JamieMcDonald/GettyImages

Luis Garcia forces a save from Davidovitch

The five-times European Cup winners should have been good enough to cruise past an admittedly competitive Haifa outfit, but they finished this third qualifying round second leg hanging on grimly to a result that opens the way to around £12million of cash from Europe's premier event.

Liverpool, despite being the victims of a fine goalkeeping display by Nir Davidovitch - particularly in the first half when he denied Luis Garcia a hat-trick - looked anything like a premier European club.

Even when they eventually went ahead in the second half through a Peter Crouch header, they were soon hauled level through Roberto Colautti and found themselves defending for the rest of the game.

Liverpool always knew their job here would be tough against a highly-committed Israeli side following their performance at Anfield, but it got more difficult by the day.

Hauled off to the Ukrainian capital on instructions from UEFA for this second leg was a big enough problem, and that was before they lost Jamie Carragher and John Arne Riise with ankle injuries after Saturday's draw at Sheffield United.

But with £12million of cash on the line for reaching the next stage, they could have done without losing skipper Steven Gerrard with a stomach upset ahead of tonight's game.

It meant youngster Daniel Agger replaced Carragher with Stephen Warnock in for Riise. Xabi Alonso returned to midfield while Liverpool opted for two wingers in Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzalez.

Ahead only 2-1 from the first leg, and fortunate to even have that lead so well did Haifa play at Anfield a fortnight ago, Liverpool were more than aware they needed a quick goal to settle their nerves.

But they created and wasted a glut of early chances. Pennant pulled the ball back for Peter Crouch to strike a low shot wide, before Alonso skimmed a post from 20 yards.

The keeper Davidovitch continually halted Luis Garcia, first with a superb close range save, and then with two point-blank saves from headers by the Spaniard.

But the danger was always there, and Haifa had the ball in the net from an Alain Masudi header, only for the effort to be ruled out because Xavir Anderson was offside when he nodded the ball back to his colleague.

Liverpool's injury problems worsened when they lost Warnock with an ankle injury, to be replaced by Fabio Aurelio on 28 minutes.

Alonso was booked for a foul on Yaniv Katan before Dekel Keinan and Anderson were cautioned for tackles.

Alonso curled a 20-yard free-kick just wide on 50 minutes with Liverpool striving for the critical goal they needed. But they were constantly being caught in possession, while the delivery from the flanks was poor.

But finally Pennant produced something telling from the right, and Liverpool did get their goal on 54 minutes. The summer signing went past Hain Magrashvili to reach the bye-line and lift in a cross that Crouch buried on the near post.

Gonzalez cracked an angled drive into the side netting and Garcia missed yet again, this time from Alonso's pass as Liverpool attempted to build on their lead.

But then Haifa brought everyone down to earth with a equaliser on 65 minutes. Zatan and Anderson carved their way through Liverpool's defence with some crisp passing before Anderson's shot was palmed out by Reina for Colautti to tap into an empty net. The nerves were really jangling again now.

More injury troubles for Liverpool came when Mohamed Sissoko was carried off after injuring himself trying to halt the elusive Gustavo Boccoli, and that brought Gerrard into the fray on 67 minutes.

Liverpool were now being put under serious pressure, mainly down the flanks as Haifa searched for the equaliser. Hyypia was booked and Agger had to kick away from a gaping goal as the pressure heightened.

Gerrard could have settled it but shot wide on 81 minutes before 60 seconds later Reina produced a stunning save high to his left from Colautti.

Then Bellamy was sent on for Pennant on 86 minutes, but Liverpool were still defending desperately. In injury time Steve Finnan was booked for time wasting, with Eyal Meshumar them booked for diving in the box.


holicman2010-05-02 23:44:18 +0000 #2
Well it seemed like another uninspired performance.

I know we can do better than that......and I think we were lucky to come away with a draw.

Rafa didnt take this game seriously at all and thats resulted in a miserable and under par liverpool performance.

we really have to lift for the next game.

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