Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Match Report: Chelsea 0 - 2 Liverpool

Craig Bellamy steered Liverpool into the Carling Cup semi-finals to heap further pressure on under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Bellamy's pinpoint delivery set up second-half goals for Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly as the Reds took a step closer to winning their first silverware since 2006.

It completed an emotional return for Bellamy, who had been omitted from the squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City on compassionate grounds following the death of close friend Gary Speed.

The 32-year-old Wales winger provided the spark of creativity Liverpool needed to defeat toothless opposition who were prone to erratic defending.

The ineffectual Andy Carroll, who started at Stamford Bridge, missed a first-half penalty while Chelsea should have been awarded a clear spot-kick after just two minutes.

Villas-Boas will be disappointed by the poor defending that led to both goals and hastened Chelsea's third defeat in four matches, a sequence spanning just 10 days.

The Portuguese is now in a precarious position, with his future certain to attract fresh scrutiny as the Blues continue to flounder under his guidance.

Adding to Villas-Boas' woes was the performance of anonymous £50million striker Fernando Torres, who was a peripheral figure against his former club.

Kenny Dalglish has now never lost to Chelsea as Liverpool manager in 13 meetings, but that record would have been more seriously challenged had referee Phil Dowd not blundered in the third minute.

David Luiz had dashed into the area but just as he appeared to have rounded Sebastian Coates, he was caught by the Uruguayan's knee and tumbled over.

Dowd was unimpressed, however, and booked Luiz for diving.

Alex clattered into Bellamy in a feisty opening that soon settled down as both teams sought to pass their way into the final third.

Dowd did point to the penalty spot in the 21st minute and it was Liverpool who were the beneficiaries.

Alex blatantly handled the ball while under pressure from Carroll and Dowd hesitated before awarding the kick and booking the Chelsea defender.

Carroll, who had protested fiercely to Dowd, stepped up only to drill his effort straight at Ross Turnbull, allowing the Blues to wriggle off the hook.

Chelsea twice passed their way out of trouble in their own third of the pitch, but the same patterns were missing in the opposition's penalty area.

The limping Josh McEachran was replaced by Ramires in the 42nd minute, moments before Florent Malouda almost connected with a dangerous through-ball.

Dowd made another mistake by booking Ryan Bertrand for a nasty challenge on Jordan Henderson when it was Romelu Lukaku who caught the midfielder on the shin with his studs.

Lukaku then sent a header narrowly wide after being expertly teed up by Jose Bosingwa.

Bellamy almost released Carroll after dashing clear from his own half, but he overhit the pass and England marksman had no chance of connecting.

Lampard sent in a free-kick that caused panic in Liverpool's defence, with first the crossbar and then Coates coming to their rescue.

Luiz stopped Rodriguez in his tracks with a wonderful tackle as the former Argentina international charged into the area.

But Liverpool and Rodriguez could not be denied in the 58th minute when Liverpool surged into the lead.

Bellamy did the initial damage with a killer ball across goal - perhaps Luiz should have done more to prevent the pass - for Rodriguez to complete a simple tap-in.

Liverpool's large and noisy travelling contingent were back on their feet five minutes later as Liverpool grabbed a second.

Once more Bellamy supplied the ammunition - this time from a free-kick - and Kelly was given all the time in the world to nod home his first goal for the club.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas was stretchered off after going down in a tackle.

Torres was denied by the outstretched arms of keeper Pepe Reina, the Spain striker's most meaningful contribution to a match that had largely passed him by.

Bellamy left to a richly deserved standing ovation from visiting fans, who had earlier taunted Villas-Boas by chanting "you're getting sacked in the morning".

Lucas Awaits Knee Scan

Lucas Leiva is to undergo a scan following the knee injury he suffered against Chelsea, according to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.

Lucas, 24, has been one of Liverpool's best performers this season but was stretchered off in the Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea following a challenge with Ryan Bertrand and now requires a scan.

"He's damaged his knee," Dalglish said. "We don't know what it is. We'll get him looked at and take it from there.

"We don't know what it is so rather than speculate we are best waiting until we get the proper diagnosis tomorrow or the next day and we'll let everybody know in due course. He needs to get it scanned."

Any injury setback to Lucas is a blow given Liverpool's impressive form and a lack of cover for their defensive midfielder.

Dalglish Hails Bellamy

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish praised Craig Bellamy following the Welsh forward's inspirational performance in his side's 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

Bellamy returned to action little more than 48 hours after being withdrawn from the squad for Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester City on compassionate grounds.

The 32-year-old was mourning the loss of friend and compatriot Gary Speed and stood with his head bowed during the minute's applause held at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in remembrance of the Wales manager.

Bellamy set up the goals for Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly in the second half as Chelsea were swept aside.

"Craig is a fantastic footballer who had a hugely disappointing day on Sunday," said Dalglish. "He regarded Gary Speed as a mentor.

"It was great for the wee man, making the first goal. For the second he took the free-kick. He told Martin to leave it, it was going in!

"I don't know if we took Chelsea apart but we were delighted with the way we played. We've had a good day and we deserved to go through."

Dalglish took a swipe at competition organizers for the scheduling of matches that forced Liverpool to play two games in three days.

"The way we're progressing is more significant than reaching the semi-final of a cup that's been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it," he said.

"But that doesn't mean to say we wouldn't love to win it. We've got our reward and we'll look forward to the next game.

"Three teams in the quarter-finals have problems with fixtures. Do us a favour.

"I'm not clever but I think I could have avoided that. The solution is to get someone a brain."

Ghanaian Lands Trial With Liverpool

Liverpool are set to hand a trial to New Edubiase United’s 18-year-old Mumuni Abubakar.

The young Ghanaian, who is due to arrive in Liverpool in December, is the captain for his club and has recently been handed the armband for the Ghana Under-20 tour in Italy.

“It sounds too good to be true for many but this a letter signed Liverpool Director of Football Damien Comolli,” Fifa agent Oliver Arthur told

“Mumuni is one of the emerging talents in the Glo Premier League and in the match against the senior side of Parma, he was highly impressive.”

“We at Arthurlegacy said the trip to Italy will open doors and this is just the beginning. Apart from the exposure, our boys can earn moves to big clubs where they can learn.”

Abubakar was named last season’s Ghana Premier League Most Valuable Player and the promising midfielder will have a great chance to impress the coaching staff at the Liverpool Academy.

Agent Claims Liverpool & Arsenal Have Joined Race For Eduardo Vargas

The agent of Eduardo Vargas has revealed that Liverpool and Arsenal are the latest clubs interested in securing the services of the 22-year-old Chile international.

The English teams will have to fight off AC Milan and Inter in the race for the Universidad de Chile forward who is considered one of the hottest properties in South American football.

His representatives claimed over the weekend that Inter have already tabled an offer for the player.

The news came hot on the heels of speculation that Milan was also preparing a bid. Now, Vargas’ representative has claimed that some of the Premier League’s finest are also in pursuit.

"We're talking to clubs like AC Milan, Inter, Liverpool, Arsenal and others," agent Diego Cativa told Super Vasco.

Cativa was also keen to talk up his client’s talents and described Vargas as "better than Neymar".

The agent also spoke of the youngster's importance to his side, claiming: "It is as if the team has three players instead of one [when Vargas plays]."

Vargas, who has been capped nine times by his country, has been in sensational form this season for Universidad and is considered a major contender for the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award.

Dutch Winger Emerges As Surprise Liverpool Target

Liverpool has been linked with a somewhat surprising move for Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe, who is currently on loan with Everton.

The Dutchman joined the Toffees on deadline day and will remain at Goodison Park for the remainder of the season at least.

Everton retain an option to buy Drenthe at the end of his temporary agreement, but Liverpool may reportedly move to scupper any proposed deal.

According to The Guardian, Liverpool are prepared to negotiate directly with Real in order to keep the 24-year-old out of the clutches of their city rivals.

Should Kenny Dalglish formalize his alleged interest in Drenthe, Liverpool is likely to have more negotiating power than Everton, having demonstrated their sizeable financial clout in the summer.

Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Alexander Doni, Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy all moved to Anfield during the transfer window to the tune of over £50 million.

Kelly Jokes About Bet With Spearing After Scoring Against Chelsea

Liverpool defender Martin Kelly has joked on Twitter that he and midfielder Jay Spearing had a bet over who would score their first senior goal for the club.

The tweet came after Kelly scored the Reds' second goal in their 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday evening.

The 21-year-old tweeted: “Written in the stars, I apologize to jay speo as he owes me money from a bet we had for first senior goal.”

Kenny Dalglish’s men snatched their second victory over Chelsea in under a fortnight after their 2-1 Premier League victory.

Craig Bellamy, who was absent from Liverpool’s draw in the Premier League with Manchester City on Sunday, made an emotional return to the starting line-up, following the death of friend Gary Speed.

But the Welshman was in fantastic form, terrorizing the Blues defence and setting up both goals.

First, Bellamy squared for Maxi Rodriguez to tap into an empty net, while the second was a beautifully flighted free-kick which Kelly rose to head past Ross Turnbull in the home side’s goal.

Kelly has been kept out of the starting line-up by an in-form Glen Johnson for much of this campaign, but will be hoping his assured performance against Chelsea will remind Kenny Dalglish that he is still fighting for a spot in the first XI.

Sebastian Coates Thanks Suarez For Helping Him Adjust To Life In England

Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates has thanked Luis Suarez for helping him to settle in to life in England after moving to Anfield last summer, describing the striker as his 'big brother'.

The 21-year-old joined from Nacional and has revealed his fellow Uruguayan Suarez encouraged him to make the step of leaving his homeland.

"He is like a bigger brother, not like a father," Coates told "I appreciate very much all the help he has given me since I've been here.

"I'm not sure if he persuaded me to come - he encouraged me. He told me about life in Liverpool, at Liverpool Football Club. He also told me what a great club Liverpool was in Europe and England but I knew that.

"I'm settling in very well. I'm getting used to the city, getting used to the people and getting used to English football. I've had the help of Lucas and Luis and Maxi [Rodriguez]. That helps me very much.

"It is difficult but when I started my career as a footballer I was aware there was a possibility I'd have to move to play football in a different country. You have to adapt and make the best of a situation like this.

"For myself and my family, the most difficult thing is the language. We're trying to learn English as quickly as possible so we can improve our quality of life in this country.

“The other thing is the weather - but I came here to play football, not for the weather."

He added: "I think I've done well so far. We've won the matches I've played in but I've got lots of time in which to learn, and I am learning, little by little.

"The other centre-backs have treated me well and helped me very much. We have a very healthy competition between us because, logically, a player always wants to play football but they've given me a lot of advice. I've been able to learn a lot from them.

"I hope to play many games for Liverpool and do very well for the club. I hope I'll stay here a long time and contribute much to Liverpool Football Club.