Liverpool 2-2 Young Boys
Europa League Group A, Matchday 5
Thursday, 22nd November 2012; Anfield
Goals: Shelvey 33, Cole 72; Bobadilla 52, Zverotic 89.
Liverpool failed to secure qualification to the next round of the Europa League with a 2-2 draw against Swiss side Young Boys of Bern at Anfield on Thursday night.
Joe Cole had stole the show with a goal and an assist but Zverotic’s late goal means the Reds’ final group game away to Udinese will now be vital – without it, qualification would have been secured after Anzhi had defeated the Italian side in the other group game.
Brendan Rodgers opted to field Jonjo Shelvey in the central striker role usually occupied by Luis Suarez. The midfielder scored two against Young Boys in the return game earlier in the group.
Liverpool suffered a shaky start and almost went behind after just 10 seconds, with Young Boys enjoying the better of the opening 10 minutes.
But Liverpool opened the scoring after some excellent link up play between Cole and Suso, who released Cole and he squared the ball for Shelvey to head into an open goal from almost on the line.
The goal came just minutes after Brendan Rodgers had made another early substitution, with Steven Gerrard replacing young full back Andre Wisdom who appeared to have picked up an injury. That move saw Henderson move to right back.
HT: Liverpool 1-0 Young Boys
And it was Henderson who was caught well out of position for Young Boys’ equaliser shortly after half-time. Although nothing should be taken away from Bobadilla who turned and finished expertly on the half-volley to leave Reina no chance.
Liverpool’s lead was restored in similar fashion to the opener, with Cole turning well from a Gerrard pass and finishing coolly past the keeper at the Kop end.
Shortly after, the much maligned midfielder was replaced by youngster Raheem Sterling – receiving a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd after his assist and goal.
Liverpool failed to close the game out and naively allowed Young Boys back in, Zverotic hitting a powerful strike from the edge of the box which flew past Reina.
The result means Liverpool must now match Young Boys’ result in the final group game. Liverpool are away to Udinese, while YB host already qualified Anzhi.
The permutations of the late goal are that Rodgers will now have to take a strong squad to Italy, rather than having the luxury of resting his key players if qualification had already been secured.
The manner which Liverpool failed to close the game out was very disappointing, showing naivety in possession. Both goals were very preventable. A common theme for the season.
Liverpool: Reina, Wisdom (Gerrard 30), Carragher, Skrtel, Downing, Henderson, Sahin, Suso (Suarez 60), Assaidi, Cole (Sterling 75), Shelvey.
Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Coates, Allen.