Thursday, 23 February 2012

Carling Cup - Route to the final

With the first domestic English trophy on offer this Sunday, I’m going to analyse and recall how Liverpool got there.
Liverpool had to start their run in the 2nd round of the competition due to the fact there was no European football at Anfield this year. The draw threw up a potentially tricky away game at League 1 Exeter.

Exeter City FC 1-3 Liverpool FC
Carroll scores to silence the Exeter fans.
Team – Reina, Flanagan, Skrtel, Wilson, Robinson, Spearing, Meireles, Henderson, Adam, Maxi, Suarez.
Liverpool showed their intentions right from the first game of the competition as they put an extremely strong side who cruised past Exeter. Early on Raul Meireles broke his collar bone and was subbed for Andy Carroll(this proved to be his last Liverpool game) Jordan Henderson crossed for Luis Suarz to volley in. 2 goals in 3 minutes killed of the game. First Luis Suarez squared to Maxi Rodriguez who tapped in, then Andy Carroll smashed it in to net from just outside the box to kill of the game. Exeter did score through a late penalty but this was just a consolation.
Brighton & Hove Albion FC 1-2 Liverpool FC
Dirk Kuyt scoring his first goal of the season.
Team – Reina, Kelly, Coates, Carragher, Robinson, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Kuyt, Suarez, Bellamy.
The third round draw threw up another tricky away game at the Amex. Liverpool were on the back of a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Spurs so a win was crucial. Kenny again named another strong side to dispose of the championship outfit. Liverpool came out the blocks very sharply as Luis Suarez set Craig Bellamy up for his first goal on his return to Liverpool. Luis Suarez then missed two great chances and Craig Bellamy smashed the bar with a 35 yard free kick.
In the second half Steven Gerrard returned from a 6 month absence from football and helped make the 2nd goal which Dirk Kuyt finished off. Just as the previous game, Livepool conceded a late penalty which lost them their clean sheet but they had done enough to get through.
Stoke City FC1-2 Liverpool FC
Luis Suarez celebrates after his superb  goal.
Team – Reina, Agger, Coates, Carragher, Kelly, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Henderson, Suarez, Carroll.
Another really tough draw for Liverpool, having already lost at the Britannia earlier on in the season they  had a point to prove. Liverpool went 1-0 down just before half time as a mistake from Sebastian Coates allowed Jonathan Walters to set up Kenwyne Jones to head in. On balance of play this was an undeserved lead as Liverpool had created a couple of really good opportunities.
The second half was all about Luis Suarez as he took the game to Stoke, nutmegging Ryan Shotton before a curling an unstoppable shot in to the bottom corner. As the game looked to be heading to extra time, Jordan Henderson put in a cross straight on to the Uruguayan’s head and routinely headed home to send the travelling Kop and Tony Pulis bonkers (in different senses of course).
Chelsea FC 0-2 Liverpool FC
             The team celebrates Maxi's goal. 
Team – Reina, Kelly, Coates, Carragher, Enrique, Lucas, Spearing, Henderson, Maxi, Carroll, Bellamy.
The quarter-final was Livepool’s 4th game of the competition and the 4th away game in a row, the draw was really being unkind to us! Liverpool has just played Manchester City 48 hours before this game in a really gruelling encounter. Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique and Lucas Leiva  started both games which is a really impressive feat as they played exceptionally well.
The game did come with one huge downside as in the 70th minute Lucas Leiva went down  with an injury he would not come back from for the rest of the season. He injured his cruciate knee ligaments, this was a massive blow to Liverpool’s season as he had been by far one of the most consistent performers in the team.
Back to that game, the first half was a half of penalties. One that was given to Liverpool and missed by Andy Carroll. One at the other end where Sebastian Coates blocked off David Luiz and it looked like a stone waller but it wasn’t given.
In the second half, Chelsea’s defensive woes came back to haunt them as Craig Bellamy got in down the right and whipped in a delightful cross for Maxi Rodriguez to score from almost the same spot as he did 9 days before. Craig Bellamy assisted the second goal as he put in a world class free kick which Martin Kelly headed home for his first Liverpool goal.

Manchester City FC 0-1 Liverpool FC
Daniel Agger wins a penalty at the Etihad after he is fouled by Stefan Savic of Manchester City.
Team – Reina, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson, Spearing, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Bellamy, Carroll.
Liverpool were drawn against Manchester City in the semi-final knowing if they could get through a championship team would await in the final. The semi-finals being two legs of course so once Daniel Agger won a penalty early on which Steven Gerrard dispatched it, the game plan was obviously to sit back and take the 1-0.
Liverpool were very effective at keeping their lead but the second half made for very dull watching.
Liverpool FC 2-2 Manchester City FC
Craig Bellamy's goal made sure Liverpool would be returning to Wembley.

Team – Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Adam, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Bellamy, Kuyt.
Liverpool made it through to the Carling cup final and their first final in 5 years. They didn’t do it the easy way as twice they had to come from behind. Nigel De jong scored in the 30th minute to give City the lead totally against the run of play before Liverpool hit back 10 minutes later as Steven Gerrard scored another penalty against Hart.
In the second half, City again took the lead against the run of play as Aleksandar Kolarov put in a great ball across the 6 yeard box which Eden Dzeko half volleyed home. Liverpool rallied again and with 17 minutes left Craig Bellamy and  Glen Johnson played a one-two in the box before Craig Bellamy curled in to send Kop crazy!
The buzz around the club recently has been amazing and like all Liverpool fans I can’t wait for Sunday’s game. Come on you reds!

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