Birmingham City 1-1 Liverpool: Fourth place hopes fade desperately

Match Summary

Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League took another massive blow as they dropped another two points at Birmingham City on Sunday afternoon.

Rafa Benitez made several changes to the starting line-up with Maxi Rodriguez, Yossi Benayoun and Sotiris Kyriakos coming in with Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Daniel Agger dropping to the bench.

After a dry first half of football, Steven Gerrard finally made the break through just two minutes into the second half with a lovely right-foot finish after turning Lee Bowyer on the left side.

But the hosts broke back quickly Glen Johnson was caught napping when Liam Ridgewell was allowed to steam in unmarked down the left to finish easily past Pepe Reina to put the game square.

Inexplicably, Benitez took off Fernando Torres less than half-way through the second half, replaced by David Ngog, a decision met by puzzled and angry looks from the traveling Liverpool faithful.

Torres was later seen with an ice pack on his knee as Ngog went on to miss a couple of clear-cut chances in front of goal.

Late on, Maxi saw a good effort frustratingly blocked by substitute Alberto Aquilani, but Liverpool deserved no more than a draw today.

Rafa Benitez still has never beaten Birmingham in the league as Reds manager, and Liverpool’s hopes of catching up with fourth place Man City are looking bleaker by the week.

Team Line-ups and Substitutions
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Maxi, Lucas, Gerrard, Benayoun (Babel 71), Kuyt (Aquilani 81), Torres (Ngog 65).

Subs not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Degen, Mascherano

Birmingham: Hart, Carr, Ridgewell, Johnson, Dann, Bowyer, Ferguson, Fahey, Gardner, Jerome, McFadden (Philips 78).

Subs not used: Taylor, Benitez, Larsson, Parnaby, Vignal, Michel.