The Reds were sent crashing out of the FA Cup against mid table Championship side Barnsley. On a day that the Reds should have won with ease they yet again failed to take chances when they came and Barnsley took theirs when it mattered including a last minute winner.
The Reds, captained by Jamie Carragher lost the toss and were forced to attack the Kop end in the first half. They were out of the blocks quickly though and had a corner within the first minute but as is usual corners are pretty much useless for the Reds as they usually fail to beat the first man.
Riise and Alonso both had long range efforts early on but neither had their shooting boots on. In fact does Riise own those boots at all any more?
On ten minutes Crouch headed just wide of the goal when Finnan picked him out at the far post.
Stand in keeper for Barnsley, Luke Steele had a truly great game and there was many a time he pulled off great saves. He kept out shots from Crouch, Babel and curling efforts from both Alonso and Lucas.
At the other end Itandje was generally more quiet but there's something about him that just makes me so nervous. My main worry is that the defenders also seem to think the same as me.
It was just past the half hour mark when the opening goal did come. Ryan Babel jinked his way down the left and created that half a yard to get a cross in. His pull back found Kuyt who took a touch before rifling it past Steele. One moment of class and the Reds were ahead and just as important was Kuyt scoring what will hopefully be a confidence booster.
Shortly before half time the Reds were forced to play with ten men for a time. Lucas and Alonso both went for the same ball and the young Brazilian caught Alonso. Alonso went down and then had to go off for stitches. He returned just before the half time whistle blew.
The second half saw the Reds have a number of chances to extend the lead but they just can't take them. I don't know what it is with them but they just seem to panic when the goal appears or want to walk it in.
They were ultimately forced to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal just short of the hour mark when Foster rose above two defenders to head beyond a stranded Itandje. The goal was just so avoidable though. Riise had a chance to block the cross initially. Itandje half came for the cross then changed his mind and Carragher and Finnan were beaten in the air.
It woke the Reds up a bit and they were right back at Barnsley to get the lead again. Benayoun really should have scored from six yards out but seemed happy to tap the ball in despite the obvious presence of two defenders who slid in and managed to block the shot and Crouch then missed the follow up.
A few minutes later and Hyypia had two chances to score but the first was blocked and the second saved by Steele. A couple of minutes later and Steele just managed to push a Lucas header up on to the bar and then caught it.
The Reds made their first change on sixty nine minutes when Babel was shockingly taken off for Kewell. The crowd weren't happy with the choice and I have to say it was a wrong one. That said I thought it was wrong both for the fact that Babel was playing well and I just can't stand Kewell.
Kewell had chances to prove me wrong though and he did hit the bar at one point with a shot from the edge of the box. As a winger he did nothing though to set anyone else up.
Steven Gerrard was thrown on for the last fifteen minutes in place of Lucas in what was clearly a one for one swap and straight away he charged at the Barnsley back line to force a corner which miracle upon miracle he managed to put in the danger area. Surely some other players could take a look at this as well.
As the clock ticked down towards the end talk from most people was that it was going to be a trip to Oakwell for a replay coming up. I wasn't convinced, although it was because I just though we'd nick a goal rather than it being at the other end.
Barnsley had a great shout for a penalty on ninety minutes when Howard fell flat one his backside when looking to shoot. I thought Hyypia had fouled him and feared the worst only for the ref to wave play on. Howard got himself up though and won the ball back. He then created a little space and let fly. This time he connected and sent the ball past Itandje at his near post. A great goal, but awful keeping in my opinion. For a keeper who says we haven't seen the best of him he did himself no favours with that one.
The whole lower tier of the Anfield Road end went barmy and when the final whistle went for the final time seconds later they were in heaven.
Overall the end of the trail was one of frustration for the Reds but they can only blame themselves. The team on the pitch was more than good enough to beat Barnsley. That isn't being disrespectful to them as they stuck to their task well. They harangued the Reds well and stuck to their jobs and when their chances came they took them. If you don't take your chances then you only have yourselves to blame! Good luck Barnsley.
MotM : Lucas - a hard game for the Brazilian but he did really well in midfield without much support from Alonso who was quite poor on the day in my opinion. Ryan Babel also did well for me and certainly should have stayed on the pitch.