Monday, September 24, 2007

Liverpool 0-0 Birmingham

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez left Fernando Torres out of his starting line-up and paid the price again as Birmingham earned a point at Anfield.
Torres looked a cut above the rest of Liverpool's strikers when he emerged on the hour, but Birmingham's defence had established the platform for a point.
John Arne Riise was just off target and Steven Gerrard's shot was kicked off the line in a lacklustre display.
Torres' over-head kick was inches over, but Birmingham deservedly held on.
Benitez surprisingly preferred Ryan Babel to £26m Torres, and his side lacked punch in the opening 45 minutes.
Riise posed the main danger with a shot across the face of goal and a rising shot off target.
Birmingham suffered a setback after 10 minutes when Borja Oubina, signed on loan from Celta Vigo, was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury.
Former Birmingham winger Jermaine Pennant had a 20-yard drive turned over by Maik Taylor, but otherwise Steve Bruce's side survived in relative comfort.
Liverpool showed a greater purpose after the break, with Gerrard having a shot turned off the line by Mehdi Nafti following Pennant's corner.
Andriy Voronin saw a shot saved by Taylor before Torres was finally introduced for the disappointing Babel.
Peter Crouch was sent on with 17 minutes left in place of Voronin, but a moment of magic from Torres almost broke the deadlock.
The Spain striker produced a brilliant bicycle kick from Pennant's cross that flew only inches over the bar.
Birmingham had barely been seen as an attacking force, but Gary McSheffrey wasted a chance with 10 minutes to go, shooting wildly off target when well placed.
Torres' flick then set up Crouch in the area, but the England striker hesitated and Stephen Kelly produced a superb saving tackle.
· Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:"I have four strikers, I played them all in the end.
"I felt that Andriy Voronin and Dirk Kuyt were the type of striker I would have needed to work hard against a packed defence.
"The game was very frustrating, we tried to play wide, we tried to get the ball into the box and we did everything we could to break them down.
"In the end we ran out of ideas. The game was too narrow, it was too congested in the box and there was no space."
· Birmingham manager Steve Bruce:"We are their bogey side in league games and we aimed to continue that.
"We only had about three lads out there who had even been to Anfield before.
"As a club we have to love occasions like this, playing at venues like this, and we want to be back here next season.
"We know we are going to be one of the clubs loitering around the bottom of the table, and it is absolutely vital that we stay in the division."
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Pennant (Finnan 87), Gerrard, Mascherano, Babel (Torres 60), Kuyt, Voronin (Crouch 74).Subs Not Used: Itandje, Sissoko.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Djourou, Ridgewell, Queudrue, Larsson, Palacios (O'Connor 68), Nafti, Melendez (McSheffrey 13), Kapo, Jerome (Schmitz 80).Subs Not Used: Kingson, Forssell.
Booked: Ridgewell, McSheffrey.
Att: 44,215
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

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