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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 01 Jan 11 at 16:59 PM

Report: Liverpool 2 Wanderers 1

After a hard-working and battling performance, Wanderers could consider themselves unlucky to leave Anfield empty handed following an extremely late winner from Joe Cole.

In what was ultimately a scrappy affair, Owen Coyle's men took the lead thanks to skipper Kevin Davies' back post header from a free-kick whipped in by Matt Taylor, who impressed throughout.

But despite frustrating the hosts for the duration of the second period, an eqauliser from Fernando Torres and a late controversial Joe Cole winner ultimately sent Wanderers home with nothing to show for their valiant efforts.


Kevin Davies

Following the slender midweek defeat to league champions Chelsea, Owen Coyle made two enforced changes to the starting line-up.

Spaniard Marcos Alonso made his first league start in a Wanderers shirt in place of the suspended Paul Robinson, whilst Mark Davies took the place of the injured Stuart Holden, who suffered a reoccurrence of a thigh injury in the latter stages of the trip to the capital.

The game got underway in a frantic fashion, with a light shower of rain swirling in the Anfield sky making for a slick playing surface.

Both sides struggled to get a real foothold in the game in the opening 15 minutes. Liverpool's only moment of note saw Maxi Rodriguez, scorer of the only goal between the two sides earlier in the season in the game at the Reebok, fizz an effort across the face of goal with Matt Taylor making the all-important clearance from inside his own six yard box.

The home side were forced into an early change that saw Steven Gerrard enter the fray in place of Raul Meireles who had picked up an early knock in a challenge with Mark Davies.

Meanwhile Wanderers were making inroads of their own. Rodrigo, who had impressed at Stamford Bridge in his first Premier League start last time out, jinking inside a marker before thundering an effort narrowly over the crossbar.

Taylor then came even closer minutes later, bending a free-kick around the Liverpool wall from 25 yards into Pepe Reina's side netting.

Argentine Rodriguez continued to be the danger man for the hosts and he scrambled to the back post to divert a ball in from the right from Dirk Kuyt onto Jussi Jaaskelainen's crossbar.

Lucas then slid an effort narrowly wide at the back post as Liverpool attempted to get a foothold in the game.

In truth the opening half was bereft of any real ingenuity and there was a rather unusual subdued atmosphere in the stadium. That atmosphere soon turned into that of frustration, as Wanderers took the lead on the stroke of half time.

Rodrigo was scythed down by Fabio Aurelio down the right flank and Taylor arced a delicious ball to the back post that was crying out to be headed home and skipper Kevin Davies duly obliged.

Referee Kevin Friend took the forefront of the frustration from the home fans at the interval, but they didn't have to wait long for a levelled upon resumption of the second period.

A neat period of interplay culminated in Gerrard clipping an inch-perfect ball into the path of Fernando Torres who side-footed the ball on the full volley into the roof of the net in front of the Kop.

Liverpool were on the frontfoot and clearly buoyed by their equaliser. Torres latched onto a through ball from Rodriguez before checking back onto his favoured right foot and bending an effort narrowly wide of Jaaskelainen's left post.

Gerrard was at the heart of all things Liverpool did well. The skipper burst through the midfield to tee up Rodriguez who denied by a fine sliding challenge from Zat Knight.

Wanderers needed to a response and Taylor almost provided the perfect restbite after slaloming his way around Glen Johnson before arrowing a right-footed effort inches wide of Reina's post.

There was a real tension in the air, and that Gerrard-Torres combination nearly bore fruit again with 15 minutes remaining. Gerrard instigated a clever quick throw-in before firing a cross for the Spaniard who could only divert narrowly wide.

It was one-way traffic, but the Whites still looked dangerous on the counter attack. Johan Elmander hared away down the right side before rolling a ball on for Mark Davies who stung the palms of Reina.

Just as it seemed Wanderers had secured a deserved point Liverpool snatched a late winner. Gerrard whipped a ball into the box before Torres steered the ball into the substitute Joe Cole's path who scrambled home in a seemingly offside position.

It was a cruel blow, but Wanderers left Merseyside empty handed as the referee immediately called time on proceedings.

Liverpool
: Reina, Johnson, Agger (Kyrgiakos 89), Skrtel, Aurelio, Rodriguez, Meireles (Gerrard 21), Lucas, Kuyt, Ngog (Cole 82), Torres (Unused substitutes: Jones, , Babel, Poulsen, Kelly)

Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Alonso, Rodrigo (Klasnic 70), Muamba, M Davies, Taylor (Petrov 82), Elmander, K Davies (Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Blake)

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