The Reds’ last home game of the season ended in a familiar fashion to many others this season, with Fernando Torres proving the match winner as he scored his 32nd goal of the season to see off Man City 1-0.
It could, and maybe should, have been a lot more for a Liverpool team recovering from their Champions League exit on Wednesday night. Rafa Benitez was expected to make plenty of changes and some speculated that a few youngsters would be included, that didn’t really materialise, with Emiliano Insua the only – and most expected – inclusion at left back. The Argentinian youngster making his home league debut over a year after making his away debut at the back end of last season.
There was no place in the 16 for either John Arne Riise or Peter Crouch and hence the speculation over their futures being heightened further. There was a place for Voronin on the bench though.
For City, they had skipper Richard Dunne – so impressive in the 0-0 at Eastland’s earlier in the year – back in the heart of defence, while Liverpool legend Didi Hamann took his place on the bench. Rumoured transfer target Michael Johnson was in midfield for Sven Goran Erikkson’s team.
Pre-match the visiting fans made it clear where their attentions where today with plenty of support for their manager, banners and songs a-plenty for loveable Swede. Their problems reminded Liverpool fans of our own off-field problems and just what the summer will bring for the club?
On to the match then and if there was one word to describe the first half it would be lacklustre. A very distinct end-of-season-nothing-to-play-for feel both in the stands and on the pitch was apparent. Babel was lively down the left and promised but supplied little, he went closest in the opening 45 with a header which he didn’t really head from a cross down our right.
Insua grew into the game after a shaky opening 5 minutes (and was one of the biggest positives from the match in my opinion). Gerrard had a long range effort and City didn’t do much, at all. Oh, and Liverpool were sporting their new kit… Half time, 0-0 snoozefest.
Second half started a lot brighter with Torres forcing a corner right away. It was inevitable it would be he who broke the deadlock which he did with the type of class we’ve come to enjoy this season. Outmuscling Dunne from deep he raced down the inside right and once inside the area hit the ball across goal from a tight angle through the keeper’s legs. 1-0. Fernando Torrres Liverpool‘s Number 9…
There were chances a plenty during the much livelier second half, Kuyt hit a stunning volley (described as Van Basten like just now on MOTD2, amazing how things change eh!) from a corner which the keeper parried and Lucas followed up with an overhead kick which the keeper saved too. Either would have been a great goal.
Torres had gone close again before he got his goal, from the left pushing the ball wide of the opposite side. Mascherano had a great run from deep and shot from 20 yards which forced the keeper into a good save down to his right. Babel missed the sitter of the season after further impressive work by Torres down the right – once again El Nino showed his strength to outmuscle the defender despite being hauled down twice!
Even Carragher got in on the action with a shot which was blocked after winning the ball from Benjani… urged on by the Kop he went for it and it would have been one hell of goal! Kuyt hit the bar with a good header from an impressive cross from Hyypia. It could have been many more than just the one but City were poor, only Elano’s free kick worrying the Reds.
Didi Hamann got the reception he deserved when he came on mid-way through the second half, and indeed prior to that when warming up.
I forgot to mention, the reserves collected their trophy for winning the northern reserve league at half time and were afforded a warm reception, even a few City fans applauded which was nice to see. Who said we didn’t win anything this season?
The last home game of the season nowadays means one thing for sure, the sight of Carragher’s kids racing around the pitch during the lap of honour – something they did two, maybe three times much to the amusement of the Kop! Tom and Jerry eat your heart out.
The fans clapped, the players got wet, Rafa got to know he still has the fans support, then everyone went home and drenched in the downpour!
Roll on the summer, hopefully it brings changes for the good of LFC, starting with 2 key departures (and im not talking players) and hopefully with good acquisitions on it…. oh, and some sun would be great too.