Reds finish third after draw

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Pre Match Team News

First team players returned after the defeat at Fulham last week, but Pepe Reina wasn’t risked with a neck injury – and with Dudek injured also, young Daniele Padielle made his debut in goal. Robbie Fowler captained the side on his final Anfield appearance.

Match Summary

Robbie Fowler’s final game at Anfield ended with a penalty at The Kop end – 2 minutes after the legendary striker was substituted. Harry Kewell put the penalty away to bring the Reds back level for a second time in the match. Arsenal‘s 0-0 draw at Portsmouth means Liverpool have finished third in the Premiership.

Match Report (Chris Wellman)

On a day of departures at Anfield, when the stadium rose to applaud a ‘favourite son’ in Fowler and our hero of Istanbul, Dudek, it was the long awaited arrival back for a mercurial winger that was the most significant thing to come out of today’s encounter.

That player, was none other than Harry Kewell, who though only on the field for half an hour, made enough of a telling contribution to merit a possible Champions League start.

Indeed the cameo appearance from the Australian lit up what was a rather insipid and error ridden performance from the reds, which hopefully is something the players have got out of their system before our Athens encounter.

From the moment a carefree Charlton scored on the first notable attack by either team ,the reds backline in particular looked worryingly fragile, hardly resembling the one that had been so watertight at home all season.

Maybe it was because our visitors were playing for mere pride without the pressure of fighting for their survival or perhaps it was the reds inability to raise their game in what was for all intense and purposes a meaningless contest. Whatever the reasons, Liverpool’s inability to stamp their authority was all too prevalent.

The match was strewn with mistakes and simple chances squandered. Both teams were guilty of this, with Arbeloa’s indecisiveness when clean through in the first half, a prime example. This indecision ran through the team in the first half.

The second half saw little change, with Charlton continuing to press and miss gilt edge chances and Liverpool going through the motions with minds possibly wandering to the 23 May. It took the arrival of Xabi Alonso to bring a calming force to proceedings as he slotted in a well worked move between Kewell and Kuyt, which finally saw Liverpool level.

However, the nervousness that had been shown all day, reared itself up once again, when our goalkeeping debutant, Padelli, failed to deal with a drive adequately so handing Darren Bent the chance to regain Charlton’s lead. The Italian youngster could be forgiven for his jittery performance as those in front of him were not instilling any confidence culminating in a debut that would not be so memorable.

The reds finally roused themselves in the remaining minutes as they set about an equalizer as Charlton’s young keeper brilliantly kept out efforts from Kewell and Alonso. Time was almost up, when from a outswinging corner Bougherra handled. It was perhaps fitting, that with his new found enthusiasm, Kewell stepped up and scored the resulting penalty.

Irony was not lost though on the crowd,who had just seen Fowler bow out of Anfield minutes before. He would have surely taken that penalty and sign off his wonderful Liverpool career with a goal – what price a contribution in the Final ?

So with third place cemented, Liverpool can now draw a line under their Premiership campaign for another year and concentrate on another momentous assault on Europe’s glittering prize. Perhaps we can afford the team’s lacklustre display here, if the reds can come back with a six title and be kings of Europe again.

Things we learnt from this match

  • The Champions League Final is more important than finishing third
  • Harry Kewell is fighting for a place in the final line up – and might well get it after today’s performance
  • And Xabi Alonso wants a starting place in Athens too
  • Darren Bent could will be on Benitez’s summer shopping list
  • Fowler isn’t the player he was and would have had a hat trick in this match 10 years ago
  • The whole of Anfield wishes Fowler hadn’t been subbed until 2 minutes later!
  • Teams and Facts

    Liverpool: Padelli, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa (Alonso 61), Gerrard, Mascherano, Zenden (Kewell 57), Riise, Kuyt, Fowler (Crouch 88)
    Subs Not Used: Martin, Hyypia
    Goals: Alonso 62, Kewell 90 pen

    Charlton: Randolph, Young, Bougherra, Hreidarsson, Thatcher, Ambrose (Hughes 52), Holland, Song Billong, Zheng (Marcus Bent 90), Sam (Hasselbaink 82), Darren Bent
    Subs Not Used: Elliot, Fortune
    Goals: Holland 2, Darren Bent 72

    Attendance: 43,134
    Referee: Dermot Gallagher (Oxfordshire)

    Today’s Other Results:

    Blackburn 3-3 Reading
    Bolton 2-2 Aston Villa
    Chelsea 1-1 Everton
    Liverpool 2-2 Charlton
    Manchester United 0-1 West Ham
    Middlesbrough 3-1 Fulham
    Portsmouth 0-0 Arsenal
    Sheffield United 1-2 Wigan (Sheff United relegated)
    Tottenham 2-1 Manchester City
    Watford 1-1 Newcastle