Liverweb Match Report
Follow on Twitter : @Liverweb
Liverpool 2 Rabotnicki 0The Reds wen through tot he play off of the Europa League with ease over Rabotnicki. The Reds could and probably should have won this by more but with little pressure on them it proved unnecessary to push on too much.
Roy Hodgson took charge of his first Anfield game and he saw his new signing - Joe Cole star for the Reds in a role behind Ngog.
The hard work for this game had been done by the kids last week when they won 2-0 away so this was always going to be an easier game but you still have to produce the goods on the night.
In fairness to Rabotnicki they tried hard in the game it just wasn't coming off for them and I think they would have feared the worst when the first goal went in after just twenty minutes.
A good sized crowd turned up for this one - it surprised me to be honest and the noise was there on the kop to welcome the players back.
The early comedy moment came just before the first goal and Ze Carlos was booked as a result. A Reds corner started it off and the visitor insisted on getting very close to Martin Kelly. The ref spotted it and warned him away but he just went straight back in. After another warning he went back again so he was booked. He still never learned really but this time rather then put his arms around Kelly he left them hanging behind him. What made it funnier was that the minute Kelly made a move he lost him and Kelly nearly scored as a result.
The opening goal came on twenty one minutes through David Ngog. Steven Gerrard played a short corner to Joe Cole. He jinked his way past a man and then clipped a lovely ball to David Ngog who headed home off the underside of the bar.
The Reds were playing well and trying a few things with the ball. They weren't always coming off but the skills were there and players were often reading the moves so there are positive signs of things that could come as time goes on.
Joe Cole was instrumental in most of the fine attacking moves and with him being so used to the Premiership already I'm really hopeful that things could be great with him. It also allows Gerrard to be freed up in midfield where he belongs - well he does for me at least
The Reds got their second goal of the night from the penalty spot when Steven Gerrard scored. David Ngog was wrestled to the ground inside the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Joe Cole hung around the area but Gerrard was having none of it and confidently struck the ball home.
You could tell from Gerrard's celebration that he knew the game was well and truly over - a fist on the air and that was that. The second half proved more of a non-event really with no pressure on the Reds but there were glimpses every now and again.
There was so much space around the pitch as slowly but surely the away side slumped further and further back and looked just to contain the game really. They didn't want to be battered I suppose and you can't blame them for that.
Steven Gerrard was the first one subbed with Aquilani replacing him. That came just after the hour mark. Shortly after Maxi replaced Jovanovic who had worked well on the pitch. Maxi injected a bit of pace to the game when he came on and wasn't far off scoring himself.
The final sub saw Lucas replaced by Jay Spearing which surprised me as I though Cole would have been rested. It was a bit later when you saw Cole cramping up a bit that you could see he was struggling a little too.
Joe Cole did nearly score late on but his shot from inside the box was deflected just over the bar whilst young Dani Pacheco should have done better late on as well but with so much time on his hands he dithered a little and saw his shot blocked.
The final whistle came though and sent the Reds in to the draw and as I write this we've got a tough one - Trabzonspor of Turkey. We saw off Trabzonspor in 1977 though and lifted the European Cup. Long journey early in the season though. This game was good for the fitness levels though and certainly gives hope for the season to come. Now if we can just sort out getting rid of the current owners.....
MotM : Joe Cole - looked exactly what I thought he would be when he signed with good vision and skills throughout the ninety minutes. Long may that continue.
Programme Price £3
Match number 2 of the season
European Match number 2 of the season
European Match number 316 of all time
Fairs/UEFA/Europa League Match number 105 of all time
Match number 5206 of all time (excludes war time matches and Friendly/Testimonials)
Match number 2 against Rabotnicki
Home Match number 1 against Rabotnicki
Cup Match number 2 against Rabotnicki
Home Cup Match number 1 against Rabotnicki