Sunday, October 05, 2008

City 2 Liverpool 3

“The disappointing thing was that we had talked about that at half time, and to allow them back so early was a disappointment. We were still very much in it at 2-1, but the sending-off changed the game from our point of view. The extra man was always going to make it difficult, we had to hang in but we could not keep them out.”>>Mark Hughes.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect for me, was having gone in at the break 2-0 up, was how quickly we managed to cede the momentum to Liverpool - a side that had a poor first half and looked well out of the game at that stage.

Inevitably Liverpool were going to come out after the break and attack us, but we appeared to invite this all too easily and far too often.

All three goals in the second half were disappointing ones to concede - particularly the second goal from a corner where Torres was criminally allowed a free run at the ball, and Hart really should have made a stronger challenge.

Of course, at 2-1 the talking point of the game occurred with many fans on the way out bemoaning that once again we got the short straw from the officials for the second week in a row.

My first thought of the sending off (with a view from the South Stand) was that it wasn't a sending off offence, but I immediately feared the worst once a free-kick was given. Having since watched it on MOTD, I think it is a lot clearer as to why he was sent off.

There is no doubt in my mind that Zabaleta's intention was to go solely for the ball, but his challenge was one that (mainly due to overstretching) ended up being a two-footed one which made contact with the man.

Whilst this decision was the one that grabbed the headlines, it overshadowed a poor performance overall from the referee, whose decisions at times bordered on the farcical, with Robinho continually failing to get decisions, and for me, illustrates once again the types of decisions that the big four do get - with referees seemingly fearing giving decisions against those sides.

I did think that Benitez got his tactics spot on in the second half, and did help change the game, with Gerrard seeming to play a lot deeper which allowed him more of an influence on the game.

All three goals were as result of play initially coming from the flanks, particularly down the right-hand side following Zabelleta's dismissal - where Gerrard seemed more intent on pulling wide to support Rieira and Dossena.

For me, Hughes made a mistake in bringing on Gelson in that position and I would have personally preferred to see Ben Haim introduced to play there - or even move Micah Richards across there from the centre.

Where I felt Hughes missed a step was at 2-1, not introducing Didi Hamman alongside Vincent Kompany to replace Elano - whose presence when we are under pressure is not best suited in a deeper role.

As well as Liverpool did play in the second half - and I do think they are genuine title contenders this season, whatever level you are playing at, you should not be losing a 2-0 lead from the position that we put ourselves in.

We have now had two games against the top four - supposed sides that we be alongside. With two defeats (both at home), what it does do is illustrate that we are some way off the top four at present and to get there will not be a quick fix.


All work and no play makes for a dull team, but too much unrestrained enjoyment and not enough graft can lead to rank underachievement, so, despite opening this campaign with fewer points than they did last season - nine after seven games compared to 13 under Sven-Goran Eriksson - there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this current City crop. >>MEN.

Some days in football are just golden. For Liverpool, this was one of those rare occasions when everything came together and an admiring audience was left to wonder whether they might, after all, have the wit and gumption to sustain an authentic Premier League challenge rather than just flit around the edges. >>

Sometimes, just sometimes, it is all about the game. A serious-looking injury, a red card and a backdrop of financial intrigue might often be enough to reduce the football to a side issue these days, but as the dust settled on an extraordinary afternoon at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday, it felt fatuous to focus on anything other than an irresistible Liverpool comeback. >>times online.

Dirk Kuyt struck his first league goal for 11 months deep in stoppage time to claim three points which should have been Manchester City’s as the home side paid the ultimate price for failing to conclude their business after making all the running. >>

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