Vital Liverpool report on the Reds’ failure to book their place in the next round of the Europa League. After another good Anfield performance, Liverpool could only record a 2-2 draw with Swiss side Young Boys.
Liverpool failed to book their place in the last 32 of the Europa League tonight after a 2-2 draw with Swiss side Young Boys. It was another case of good performance, bad result for Liverpool, aided by a little naivety in the second half.
Straight from kick-off, Young Boys showed that they weren’t overawed by the stadium nor the occasion and it was the away side who made the brighter start to the game by fashioning two very early chances through Gonzalo Zarate and Raphael Nuzzolo.
However, Liverpool quickly began to find their stride and began to produce some neat football and sharp interchanges, the main architects being Suso, Joe Cole and Jonjo Shelvey. Oussama Assaidi also impressed in the opening exchanges and Young Boys struggled to contain his pace and trickery.
Joe Cole – who has been the subject of an increasing amount of criticism for his lack of success in a red shirt – worked his socks off, and as is often the case, he got his rewards and produced some good pieces of quality. He was unlucky with a powerful shot across goal on 16 minutes after being put through by Jonjo Shelvey.
The home side created another opportunity on 26 minutes when Jonjo Shelvey’s impudent flick put Jordan Henderson clean through on goal. His shot was struck reasonably well but it was tipped around the bottom left-hand post by Marco Wolfli. A superb piece of skill by Shelvey and the type of trick that completely opens up a defence, no matter what the level of football.
Young Boys’ fans were loud throughout and they were the subject of a standing ovation after revealing a banner entitled ‘In Memory of Hillsborough’ in the first half. Liverpool fans have good memories and the gesture will not be forgotten.
On 32 minutes, Liverpool took a deserved lead. Joe Cole passed inside to Suso and the young Spaniard aimed a clever slide rule pass back to Cole which left him one-on-one with the keeper; stretchting slightly, the former England international done well to aim a chip over Wolfli and Jonjo Shelvey done the rest by heading into an empty net. A really well worked goal from the Reds.
Another great chance fell to the Reds on 42 minutes when some fine interplay between Cole and Shelvey left Suso in on goal. Instead of taking a few more steps towards goal and leaving himself an easier finish, he aimed an early side footed shot just wide of the bottom left-hand corner. Another fine move but Liverpool had to settle for a one goal lead going into the break.
Young Boys were not slow in reminding Liverpool that a one goal lead is never enough. Alex Farnerud and Elsad Zverotic both went close with long range efforts in the opening five minutes of the second half.
Liverpool didn’t heed the warning and the Swiss side fired themselves level on 52 minutes. Farnerud aimed a fine diagonal ball towards Raul Bobadilla, and after a classy chest down on the turn, the big Argentinian fired a ferocious left footed half-volley straight into the top corner.
A brilliant goal by the Swiss, but perhaps Jordan Henderson – playing right-back after Steven Gerrard replaced an injured Andre Wisdom in the first half – will feel slightly culpable after losing Bobadilla in the build up.
Just like the first period, Liverpool responded well after a tentative start to the half. A renewed grip on proceedings was helped by the introduction of Luis Suarez – at the expense of Suso – on the hour mark.
Liverpool looked the most likely and took another deserved lead on 72 minutes. Joe Cole was rewarded for his endeavour when he capped a fine Liverpool move. After an impressive spell of possession in opposition territory, Steven Gerrard slipped in Cole and he managed to sneak a left footed shot under Wolfli.
In the period subsequent to Liverpool’s second, the home side looked comfortable and Cole’s strike appeared to have made the Swiss roll.
A little naively however, Livepool continued to push for a third and decisive goal instead of seeing the game out in a more cautious manner. They were punished severely for this on 88 minutes.
After a devastating counter-attack, Zverotic played a nice one-two at the edge of the area before smashing a left-footed shot that almost went through Pepe Reina. His role in the goal was questioned, but the shot was powerfully struck and took a slight deflection, whilst Reina was unsighted by two Liverpool defenders.
Liverpool get scant reward for a good home performance. That re-occurring theme strikes yet again. The Reds can count themselves unlucky for not booking their place in the last 32 because they played really well in stages and some of the football was a joy to watch.
Make no mistake, Liverpool sides of the past would have saw the game out by dropping deeper as opposed to this team’s admirable but ultimately foolhardy ‘attack is the best form of defence’ philosophy tonight.
But sometimes it’s better to focus on the quality of the opposition’s goals as opposed to being overly critical. Indeed, Young Boys’ two efforts were brilliant strikes.
Yes, Liverpool’s defending could have been better on both occasions, but they were punished to a degree that arguably wouldn’t be the case in most future games.
A victory at Udinese is likely to be the least Liverpool need in their attempts to reach the next round, and rather than Rodgers having a chance to rest some senior players in the knowledge that his side are already through, he will be forced to bring out the big guns in an attempt to secure a vital win in Italy.
Liverpool’s Star Player
Joe Cole. His work-rate was tremendous and he provided several glimpses of his unquestionable quality, not least with his assist and second half goal.
Reina, Wisdom (Gerrard 29′), Skrtel, Carragher, Downing, Sahin, Henderson, Suso (Suarez 59′), Cole (Sterling 75′), Shelvey, Assaidi.
Click here to read Brendan Rodgers’ comments on the match
Click here to see comprehensive match stats from the game
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