The Reds made it through to the last 16 of the Champions League against Real Betis thanks to a goalless draw at Anfield. The Reds were the better side and had enough chances to win the game but failed to convert them. Real Betis got the game underway attacking the Kop end in the first half and it was the away side who nearly went through early on. Reina though was sharp and out quickly to get tot the ball before Joaquin could get there. At the other end Morientes and especially Crouch were both looking to get involved in setting up attacks for the Reds.
Morientes went close to breaking through the whole Betis defence on eight minutes but his final touch just over ran the ball and Betis were able to clear the ball. The main joy for the Reds in the first half came down the right hand side. With the Reds exposing Oscar Lopez more and more they were getting some crosses in from the right. After Lopez was booked for a woeful challenge on Sissoko though the Reds didn't attack him enough.
Peter Crouch had two great chances to score midway through the half but on both occasions just missed. The second chance - a diving header should have been buried but he just didn't quite hit the ball square on. On thirty seven minutes Sissoko created a great chance for himself but if only he could shoot! He blazed over after doing all the hard work. A few minutes later and Joaquin showed everyone how good he is. Out on the right hand side and faced with both Riise and Hamann he danced past them as if they never existed but having beat them he failed to put in a decent cross.
Half time arrived and time for a re-think in the dressing room. The interval saw a presentation given to Phil Neal, Kenny Dalglish and a young relative of Bob Paisley. The award was some form of award by UEFA but sadly I couldn't hear what the commentator was saying. Phil Neal got a huge round of applause as he went up for his. Then came Dalglish and the chants of Dalglish went up around the Kop - just like the days of old. The came the award for Bob Paisley and the eerie chant of Paisley sang out around the ground. I love the chant but there's something weird about it to me.
After the break the Reds got the game underway again and looked to capitalise on their better possession. A minute in to the half and Morientes had a golden chance but he seemed to dither before shooting on goal. His slowness allowed the Keeper to come out and make a save. Six minutes in to the half and Hyypia headed just over the bar from six yards out. It was getting closer so persistence was the key.
On fifty seven minutes the latest player to try and overhead kick at goal was Momo Sissoko. He played keepie uppie on the edge of the box before hurling himself in to the bicycle kick. His effort was straight and feeble though to the keeper who collected with ease. A minute later and Hamann picked up a booking which he really can't complain about as he simply hacked his man down.
On sixty four minutes Morientes was presented with another great chance - this time off a Crouch header down but his Volley sailed over the bar from ten yards. t proved Morientes' last action as he was subbed for Cisse a couple of minutes later. Cisse though played right midfield and allowed Gerrard a chance to move further up field.
Steven Gerrard had a couple of good chances to score late on. On seventy six minutes he cut inside his man before hitting a tame shot straight at the keeper. Then on eighty seven minutes he really should have scored when he raced clean through on goal. Gerrard though shaped all to obviously to shoot right and the keeper saved the ball with ease. Gerrard was subbed late on and replaced by Potter for the final stoppage minutes of the game. Betis did put the Reds under some late pressure and had we scored you wouldn't have panicked quite as much as we did. That said seeing the away side swing a corner in during the final second of the game panicked you. The Reds cleared though and went off to the last 16 of the tournament.
MotM: Peter Crouch - played really well throughout and is really starting to show how he can play for the Reds. He brought the ball down well and got in to good space to bring play up to his part of the pitch. The goals will come for him but his all round play gets this award.