Dull and boring - strangely enough exactly what I started with after last seasons game at Anfield as well. The difference this time is that we managed to bag all three points this time against a ten man Blackburn side.
The Reds lost the toss and Jamie Carragher was forced to get his side attacking the Kop end in the first half. It was the Reds who started the game after Brad Friedel was given a good ovation from the Reds crowd. An ovation he very much appreciated.
The first half chance came after three minutes to Momo Sissoko but the one thing lacking in his game seems to be the ability to shoot and that meant the chance went begging. The Reds seemed to be alternating between a 4-4-2 system and a 3-5-2 but often just seemed to get confused.
The Reds should have taken the lead on ten minutes from a corner Kick on the main stand side. The ball came in and was there on a plate for Cisse but he for some reason seemed intent on scoring it spectacularly rather than just heading the ball in the back of the net. As he made a mess of the overhead kick the chance went begging.
Jamie Carragher went close on thirteen minutes from Alonso's cross. At the other end Blackburn looked like they may cause danger, mainly through Kuqi but they couldn't quite really create a clear chance.
The biggest controversy of the game came on thirty three minutes play. Cisse was played in by Sissoko and the French striker raced on to the ball. Khizanishvilli tried to match Cisse for pace and on the edge of the area slid in, bringing Cisse down. The ref whistled straight away and the linesman flagged as well. From my distance it was clearly out of the area but the ref initially thought it was inside. Cisse grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot as Blackburn moaned. The linesman though specifically didn't put the flag across his chest and Mark Halsey consulted him over it. After that he awarded the free kick on the edge of the area and then sent off the Blackburn defender. It seemed a tad harsh to me but at full speed Cisse would have cut in on goal so the sending off is the letter if the law.
From the resulting free kick Bolo Zenden bent the ball over the wall but with Friedel left motionless the ball crashed off the bar and over. Blackburn then made a switch bring on Todd for Dickov to re-establish their full back line. It meant that they didn't have much after that going forward but with over half the game to go the Reds could surely exploit the space left.
Cisse was first to go close with six minutes left before the break but his header went just over the bar. Zenden then shot just wide minutes later. The Reds though weren't taking full advantage of the extra man.
The Reds came out for the second half and ready for a new push for a goal. Garcia, Riise and Morientes were told to stay warming up having gone through some work in the interval with Pako. Garcia was the first to get in to the action as he replaced Josemi on the hour mark. The move allowed Finnan to move back to right back with Garcia playing in front of him.
Just afterwards the Reds had a very strong penalty claim. Warnock was taken down on the main stand side and a free kick was given. Alonso took the free kick to Zenden who played Warnock straight in on the overlap but he was brought down. The ref though played on and the goal was just as far away from coming as ever.
Djibril Cisse went close on sixty six minutes but was clearly unhappy as his shot flew wide after Garcia presented the chance on a plate for him. The Reds then made their second switch bringing Morientes on for Crouch. Emerton and Mokoena also came on at the same time for Blackburn as it seemed the away side wanted to waste as much time as they possibly could.
The Reds made their final switch on seventy four minutes as Warnock was replaced by Riise. Just a minute later and the Reds finally got their goal. A free kick from a good position was slid to Cisse who blasted the ball past the wall and Friedel and into the back of the net. Cisse danced in front of the Blackburn fans who had taunted him. The lead at last opened the game up as well. Blackburn suddenly wanted to get on with it.
Rovers at times seemed a bit possessed, especially Savage who was subjected to chants of Toshack in the first half by the Kop. Savage was racing round like a headless chicken almost willing himself to get a yellow card.
David Bentley picked up a yellow card minutes after the Reds had taken the lead and I don't know how anyone could protest at it. Bentley took Zenden out so hard by the tunnel that Zenden wasn't far off going down the steps to the changing rooms. Bentley was booked and then Lucas Neill followed for protesting.
The Reds created a few more clearer chances later in the game as the game opened up. Morientes though will wonder how he didn't score. His first chance came on eight minutes but he seemed to head the ball more with his nose than anything else. Robbie Savage then got his wish for a card off the ref as he clattered his man. As ever the whinging Rover thought he was hard done too. Mark Halsey merely reminded of every challenge he got away with.
Fernando Morientes then missed two chances in as many minutes. The first was a tap in after Friedel couldn't hold Riise's shot but somehow he tapped wide and the second was a header just over the bar when he should have done better. They were both chances he should have scored but didn't prove costly at least.
All in all this was a largely dull affair which the Reds got away with thanks to Cisse's goal. They played awful football at times but with Rovers down to ten men and more intent on wasting time than anything else Reina had little to do.
MotM : Djibril Cisse - not his greatest of games but his hunger on the pitch if nothing else swayed me. He wants to make a success of his career with us and worked hard. He did still have his usual moans when things didn't go his way but that's Cisse. Momo Sissoko also played well and as ever got through a huge amount of work.