Thursday, 26 January 2012

Match Report: Liverpool V Manchester City

LFC 2 (3) - 2 (2) MCFC
Written by Tom Smart

After the disappointing first leg at the Etihad Stadium, City had it all to do to overturn a 1-0 deficit to which the Merseyside team took to Anfield. The blues had just come off the back of a dramatic and enthralling victory in the league over title contenders Spurs, whilst Liverpool slumped to an extremely disappointing 3-1 defeat to strugglers Bolton Wanderers. With the other semi-final the previous evening proving to be a spectacular and victorious night for Championship side Cardiff, the winner of the 2nd semi-final certainly had incentive to go on to Wembley and truly believe they could lift the trophy.

De Jong celebrates after
scoring the opener
In the early exchanges Liverpool were able to create a chance on goal following a poor Kolarov clearance falling to the feet of Enrique who steered an effort towards the bottom corner. Luckily for City Joe Hart was equal to the shot and deflected it away via his right foot. Glen Johnson was then minutes later able to get a tame effort on goal that Hart was equal to. Liverpool continued to press and in the 10th minute managed to work a clever move to Charlie Adam, Adam cut inside on his weaker foot and hit a powerful strike that was fortunately within catching distance for Hart. The opening 10 minutes showed sheer desperation to reach Wembley for a side that has not reached the final-hosting stadium since it’s re-opening.

City were able to generate their first opportunity of the match in the 15th minute as a low corner was played into the penalty area by Silva, Dzeko ran on to the cross before attempting a shot on goal. As Edin Dzeko went for the strike, Adam appeared to have caught Dzeko on the back of the heel, just before the ball was cleared out of touch. On another day it may well have been given as a penalty but the lack of appeals from the City players certainly didn’t help matters.

Ex-City man Craig Bellamy was then able to use his pace and quick feet to get round Savic and fire a shot that Hart palmed away from trouble on the 20th minute. The half hour mark finally saw City get their first attempt on goal and after some intelligent dribbling of the ball by Silva, the ball was then squared to Nigel De Jong. De Jongs first touch slightly ran ahead of him before sliding on to it and unleashing a fantastic curling effort that surprised the travelling support as much as it surprised Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. The ball nestled into the top corner and completely against the run of play, City led on the night and were back in the tie.

Bellamy celebrates after
grabbing the equaliser
Liverpool responded outstandingly and within two minutes Charlie Adam unleashed a piledriver of an effort from an acute angle forcing Hart into a superb save. Adam was instrumental again and in the 37th minute whipped in a guided cross that Lescotts out-stretched leg was forced to touch out of play beyond the preying Kuyt. The resulting corner was well worked by Liverpool as they produced a shooting opportunity for Agger whose shot was blocked by Micah Richards, deflecting off his leg and on to his arm. Phil Dowd pointed to the spot and Liverpool were awarded a penalty to the dismay of the City players. Gerrard stepped up and dispatched the ball to the right of Joe Hart in a very similar manner to that in which he did at Eastlands. Half time with Liverpool clawing their way back into the lead on aggregate and deservedly so amongst the chances they were able to generate.

Liverpool continued there dominance into the 2nd half after City rang changes and took off Savic and brought on Ageuro to add the attack. Liverpool attacked again as Kuyt drove a shot into the ground that Hart was unable to catch. Englands number 1 palmed away the ball before making an incredible save from a pot-shot effort from Skrtel 8 yards from goal. Liverpool strided forward once more as Kuyt played a lovely chipped ball over the top of the City area before landing to Downing who struck a shot that man of the match Joe Hart, was again equal to.

City were then able to get a rare foothold in the match and began to keep possession and settle down preventing Liverpool from creating chances they had done so frequently during the game. On the 66th minute some tidy passing led to the ball being distributed out wide to the left to Kolarov, who took on Steven Gerrard and fired an excellent weighted cross across the Liverpool goalmouth. The ball found Edin Dzeko and was buried home from close range, firing City into the lead and level on aggregate.

City’s lead however didn’t last long and was cut short in the 73rd minute as some intelligent passing on the right-hand side cut through the Man City defence from Kuyt, Johnson and Bellamy. This led to Bellamy eventually bearing down on goal as the Welsh striker opened his body and tucked the ball home from 7 yards against his former employers and putting Liverpool 3-2 up on aggregate. A minute later Henderson was the provider as his cross found Kuyt, however his header was spurned wide amongst the flurry of chances that Liverpool were able to create during the 2nd half.

City were able to produce something from nothing again as a sublime cross-field ball was played by Edin Dzeko that found substitute Adam Johnson on the wide right. Johnson dribbled into the area and struck a left foot effort that Reina was comfortably able to save. City continued to attack with a chance coming in the 86th minute from a Zabaleta cross and finding Dzeko who turned and had his shot blocked by Daniel Agger. Aguero went close with the last chance of the game following a long ball played forward by Hart finding Aguero and Aguero attempting the spectacular in an overhead kick that Reina collected with ease.

The final whistle blew and it would be hard for City fans to argue that the right team won and that went through to the final to play Cardiff. City’s performance appeared to lack conviction in creating chances and defending soundly, oddly something that the side has been able to do for the duration of the season.



No comments:

Post a Comment