The reds sank to a deserved loss at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. A superb first half performance by the Spanish side undid the reds who seemed at sixes and sevens for most of the time.
Valencia got the game underway and immediately went on the attack and had caused problems to the reds back line within two minutes of the start. Warning signs were there and the reds did not heed them. Inside the first ten minutes Valencia had attacked the reds numerous times and on nine minutes were unlucky not to score. John Carew broke off wide left behind Carragher which forced Diao across to cover. Rather than pressurising him on to his weaker foot he was allowed to come back on to his favoured foot before firing across the box. Traore just did enough in the centre to put his man off and the ball went clear.
The Reds were not as lucky however on twenty minutes when the move of the match saw Valencia take the lead. Superb one touch passing direct to feet following a throw on their right opened the Reds defence like a can of beans and Aimar was left free in the area to slot the ball past a helpless Dudek. Shortly after the goal Hamann was yellow carded and this proved crucial later.
On twenty five minutes Valencia attacked down the wings again and after a cross from their right, Dudek did well to save from the resultant header on goal. The game was all in the Reds half with the Liverpool forwards seeing very little of the ball other than in the distance. It took thirty minutes before the Reds got close to scoring. On the half hour mark carragher anticipated a ball falling and ran forward with it before setting Heskey free in the area. Heskey collected the ball and went round the keeper but from a tight angle just hit the near post and the ball spun across the front of the goal and out on the far side for a throw. It should have been a spur on for the Reds but it wasn't.
Thirty four minutes had passed by when Djimi Traore collected a yellow card for a rash challenge on the touchline and within four minutes the Reds were two down. A ball forward to Carew was shielded well by him and placed into the path of the on rushing Baraja. Baraja collected the ball and strode forward on goal and as he approached the area hit a shot low into the bottom corner of the net. The two goal lead was no more than they deserved and they held the lead comfortably until half time.
The second half saw the Reds make changes. Diouf and Diao were replaced by Owen and Cheyrou. The Reds looked better for periods of the second half but never really threatened the goal. A Cheyrou shot was the only real opportunity in the whole half for the Reds.
Valencia though continued to create chances despite better play from Liverpool who had a bit more about them in the second half. Aimar went close three minutes into the half but Dudek tipped his shot over the bar.
It was on 67 minutes when cheyrou was unlucky not to grab a goal for the Reds. A quickly taken free-kick by Hamann at goal was deflected by owen into Cheyrou's path but his shot was very well saved by Canizares. Within minutes though it was Valencia who again went close and this time through Baraja who like Aimar saw his shot from outside the box tipped over by Dudek. From the resultant corner to the far post Ayala was unlucky not to score with his volley, but thankfully it ended in the side netting.
Liverpool brought on Baros for extra firepower on seventy five minutes but within a minute the Reds were down to ten men. Didi Hamann was caught in a tackle with Mista. The free kick was awarded but both men carried on playing and after tangling with one another in an obvious case of handbags at six paces the referee booked both men. Hamann having already been booked in the first half walked off the pitch.
The sending off all but ended any real chance the Reds had of getting anything from the game although it would have been lucky whatever they would have got. Within minutes of the decision Valencia nearly scored\r\nagain. carragher over-committed himself on their left and the pull back was being hit as Riise threw himself in front of the ball to clear it for a corner.
The only other chance the Reds could have had was a minute into stoppage time. Michael Owen ran at his markers and as he went to go around a defender on the edge of the box he made the most of an outstretched leg and went down but the referee waved play on. There was minimal contact from the defender but it did seem that Owen looked for the penalty.
There was still time for Valencia to have another effort on goal though and it came from Carew. He brought the ball down and turned inside the area but the outstretched foot of Dudek deflected his shot for a corner.
Overall the scoreline was correct and just. It was sad to see the Reds play so poorly, especially in the first half which gave the goals away but the midfield seemed all at sea whilst the defence was caught very square a few times. No service to the front men was always going to result in an easy night for the valencia defence.
MotM : Jerzy Dudek - a few very important saves, especially in the second half. Heskey played well up front wit little service but worked hard throughout but after that a night to write off and forget about in all fairness. On to the next game.