Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 2 - 2 Man City

Carlos Tevez pounced on a Martin Skrtel mistake to continue his Manchester City rehabilitation by snatching a 2-2 draw for the champions at Liverpool.

The Argentinian, now firmly back in favour, seized on a backpass to strike his side's second equaliser and prevent City slipping to their first Barclays Premier League defeat of the season.

Liverpool were much improved after losing 3-0 at West Brom in their opener and twice led a pulsating clash with goals from Skrtel and Luis Suarez either side of a Yaya Toure effort.

But new manager Brendan Rodgers was denied his first league win as City again produced the sort of fightback they are beginning to specialise in.

After coming from behind to win their last three games 3-2, a City side which showed five changes had to settle for a draw this time.

Liverpool dominated for large spells with 17-year-old striker Raheem Sterling impressing on his first league start and Joe Allen looking composed on his home debut.

Mario Balotelli partnered Tevez up front for City on his first start since being sent off at Arsenal last April - and on a ground where he was dismissed last year - but despite looking focused, had a quiet game.

Liverpool showed early intent as captain Steven Gerrard twice stabbed low long-range shots wide in the opening three minutes.

Yet the game had hardly started when Liverpool were forced to make a change as Lucas, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, hobbled off after four minutes.

City had their first attempt on goal when Aleksandar Kolarov fired a free-kick straight at Jose Reina before Pablo Zabaleta launched a counter-attack with a fine tackle on Fabio Borini. Tevez took up the attack but his cross found no-one.

Liverpool should have gone ahead when the lively Sterling whipped in a fine cross for Fabio Borini but the Italian volleyed wide.

Tevez almost made him pay instantly as he latched on to a well-weighted pass from Samir Nasri and rounded Reina but the angle was too tight and he did well enough to hit the far post.

Kolo Toure tried his luck with a long-range shot but Skrtel blocked and a free-kick on the edge of the area came to nothing after Balotelli robbed Sebastian Coates and was tripped by Martin Kelly.

Liverpool then began to establish control with Sterling particularly looking a handful.

Kolo Toure blocked an effort by Borini, Suarez curled wide and City captain Vincent Kompany almost sliced a vicious low curling cross from Gerrard into his own net.

The Reds were not to be denied any longer as Skrtel came forward for the resulting corner and powered a header past Joe Hart from Gerrard's cross.

City were stung by the goal and struggled to make an impression as Liverpool dominated the remainder of the first half.

The hosts went close to doubling their lead before the break as Suarez flashed narrowly wide with another effort.

The Merseysiders thoroughly deserved their half-time lead and ovation and returned with much the same enthusiasm as Borini pounced on a mistake to set up Suarez, but the Uruguayan missed the target.

City boss Roberto Mancini began to make changes around the hour as he sought a way back into the game. Former Everton man Jack Rodwell predictably entered to boos from the home fans when he replaced Nasri and Edin Dzeko came on for Balotelli.

Within moments City were back level, but it owed much to defensive mistakes.

Tevez beat Sterling on the right and fired in a cross which the outstretched Reina was unable to claim. Kelly was wrong-footed by the Spaniard's attempts to gather and could not prevent the ball bouncing off him into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept home from close range.

Liverpool did not dwell on the disappointment and produced the perfect response.

Rodwell was penalised for handball 25 yards from goal and Suarez stepped up to bend a low effort past an ineffective wall.

It might have got worse for City as Glen Johnson charged into the area and went down but Kolarov was deemed to have made a clean tackle.

Yet just as it seemed Liverpool had the measure of the champions, Skrtel gifted them a way back into the game as Tevez seized on his poor pass back and calmly beat Reina.

Liverpool still wanted all three points and Jonjo Shelvey shot over from distance before Andy Carroll came on to a huge roar in the closing minutes.

City also pushed forward and Dzeko twice missed the target with shots.

Carroll almost grabbed a last-gasp winner as he got his head to a Suarez cross but Kompany headed off the line.

Rodgers - Skrtel Not At Fault

Brendan Rodgers does not blame Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel for his costly error which allowed Manchester City to equalize in Sunday's Anfield stalemate.

The Slovakian played a blind backpass towards Pepe Reina which City striker Carlos Tevez pounced on and slotted home for 2-2.

The Reds went ahead early on when Skrtel converted his header but was then involved in a defensive mix-up with Martin Kelly as Yaya Toure capitalized to level the score.

However, new Liverpool chief Rodgers was delighted with his side and refused to blame his goalscoring centre-back for the final error, instead hailing him for his 'courage'.

"There's no blame to Martin Skrtel, I'd rather have players wanting to get on to the ball," he told Sky Sports.

"The courage he has to get on the football and try to play is what is the most important thing."

The match saw starts for teenager Raheem Sterling and former Swansea midfielder Joe Allen - with both additions pleasing Rodgers, who labelled their performances as 'phenomenal'.

On the game, he said: "It was a brilliant performance I thought. There were a lot of questions asked of the team coming into such a big game but I thought the players were incredible and sometimes the best team doesn't win, and I think we were the better team.

"From what I've seen today, last week was a one-off and today I thought they were terrific.

"The plan was going perfect but then I thought tactically the ability to press at the right time and to drop off and to block was very good. I'm very, very proud of the team."

Rodgers is also looking to add to his squad, having brought in loan star Nuri Sahin last week.

He added: "I just think the players need some help. Obviously we lost a lot of players in the summer and we've only replaced what went out and not even that.

"The squad is a bit shallow, there's absolutely no doubt about that but we need to get a few in just to help the players that are here."

Enrique - Reds Style Needs Time

Jose Enrique is confident Liverpool will pick up plenty of points this season if they continue to perform to the same level as against Manchester City.

Liverpool twice led against the Premier League champions at Anfield on Sunday only for two defensive mistakes to allow City to salvage a 2-2 draw.

New Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is trying to implement a fresh approach on Merseyside and Enrique believes that, given time, it will reap rewards for the club.

"We are trying but there is still time - because there is a new manager we need time - but if we can play like this I think we will get many points," said the Spanish full-back.

"The best team in the world is the best example - Barcelona.

"You can see against Real Madrid a few days ago, how when they have the ball it is amazing and when they lose it, within three or four seconds they have it back. This the way we try to play.

"We can't compare with Barcelona - they are different, but we are trying to play like this. We are starting to learn but we are learning well."

Enrique also felt the overall performance of the team against City offered great encouragement for the rest of the season.

He said: "I think we did well. I think we deserved to win but we had two mistakes - that can happen in football.

"But then we got a point against Manchester City and that is not a bad point, of course.

"They were the best last year, which is why they won the league. I think we did better than them and I think this is the way we have to play this year."

Rodgers Rules Out Sterling Loan

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has ruled out sending young star Raheem Sterling on loan after impressing at the start of the season.

Sterling was outstanding for the Reds in his first Premier League start for the club in last weekend's draw with champions Manchester City.

It was initially thought Liverpool would consider loaning out Sterling this season so that he could get some valuable first-team experience under his belt, but the 17-year-old has quickly established himself in Rodgers' plans.

A number of clubs were thought to be keen on taking Sterling on loan, but Rodgers has now ruled out a move for the teenager as he wants him to continue his development at Anfield.

"I've seen a lot of development in him in a short time because he takes on a lot of the concepts and he is very good with instructions," said Rodgers.

"Normally wingers want to do their own thing but he is tactically improving every day.

"I am certain over the next few years that he will develop into a very good footballer.

"We just have to make sure that we keep the pressure off him.

"He certainly won't be going on loan and I believe that if we can help and nurture him in the right way, then he will be a very good player for Liverpool."

Liverpool Accept £3m Bolton Bid For Spearing

Liverpool has accepted a £3 million bid from Bolton Wanderers for Jay Spearing, Goal.com can reveal.

The midfielder is set to complete a move to Reebok Stadium in the next few days after the Championship club matched the Merseysiders’ asking price for the 23-year-old.

Contrary to reports, it is understood that Spearing will move to Bolton permanently rather than on a season-long loan.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has sanctioned the departure of the Academy graduate as he tries to offload fringe players from his squad in the final days of the transfer window.

Rodgers is also willing to listen to offers for Charlie Adam, who has fallen down the Anfield pecking order following the arrivals of Joe Allen from Swansea City and Nuri Sahin on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

The Northern Irishman has been told he has to raise funds to bring in new faces, as he bids to freshen up Liverpool’s attacking options in the next 72 hours with a wide forward his chief priority.

Spearing’s departure from Liverpool is expected to be confirmed before the transfer deadline on Friday night and is expected to slot straight into the Bolton team, where he will bring tenacity and energy to the midfield.

Spearing has not been named in Liverpool’s matchday squads in their opening two Premier League fixtures although he has featured in all three of their Europa League games and played 67 minutes of the 1-0 win over Hearts last Thursday.

Liverpool Sweat On Lucas Injury

Liverpool is waiting to discover the extent of midfielder Lucas Leiva's thigh injury amid concerns that he could be out for up to two months.

Lucas came off five minutes into Sunday's 2-2 draw with Manchester City after having felt the injury during the warm-up.

Manager Brendan Rodgers initially thought the 25-year-old had pulled a muscle, but is worried that it could be a tear that would keep him out for between six and ten weeks.

Lucas missed the final five months of last season after damaging his cruciate knee ligament in a League Cup victory at Chelsea at the start of December.

He made his return to action earlier than expected during Liverpool's pre-season tour of North America in July, and is desperate to avoid another long spell out of action.

After suffering his injury on Sunday, the midfielder wrote on Twitter: "Thanks (for) all the message(s). I am devastated but I need to put my head right and see in the next few days how bad (it) was. Good night."

Lucas's misfortune is likely to give new signing Nuri Sahin a chance to make his debut against Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday. Turkey international Sahin, 23, has moved to Anfield on a season's loan from Real Madrid.

Liverpool Ready To Sell Duo To Buy Sturridge

Rodgers is keen to bring the Chelsea striker to Anfield and will happily move on Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing to help pay for him.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is lining up a last-minute swoop for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge.

Rodgers will have to pull off a massive clear-out at Anfield to get the proposed £15million deal done though.

He is ready to sell Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing this week to raise the funds to carry on his rebuilding plans and Sturridge is right at the top of his hit-list.

Andy Carroll could also go, with Newcastle and West Ham still interested in a loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer. The Geordie favours a return to his native North-East.

Rodgers is a big admirer of Sturridge who has become frustrated at Chelsea after failing to nail down a regular place in the side or get a chance in his favoured role as a central striker.

New Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo appears no more inclined than his predecessors to move him up the pecking order, only using him as a sub so far this season, which has alerted Rodgers and he is watching developments closely.

Chelsea are aware of Liverpool’s interest even though a bid has yet to come in, and may be reluctant to sell if it leaves them short of attacking options.

Having sent Romelu Lukaku out on loan to West Brom for the season, Sturridge is their only senior striker other than first-choice Fernando Torres.

However, they have been linked with a number of frontmen, including Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle.

Rodgers has impressed the Liverpool hierarchy and fans with his rebuilding plans and philosophy and if he can generate cash through sales then he will have the funds to get Sturridge.

Downing may be difficult to shift after a disappointing first season at Liverpool despite being an England international.

Adam is unlikely to be part of Rodgers’ long-term plans and has been linked with a move to Everton.

Reds To Listen To Cole Offers

Sky Sports understands Liverpool are ready to listen to offers for midfielder Joe Cole before the close of the transfer window.

Cole is back at Anfield after spending last season on loan at Lille and expressed his determination to impress new manager Brendan Rodgers earlier this summer.

However, injuries have impacted upon the 30-year-old's prospects after he was forced off midway through the first half of Rodgers' competitive debut against FC Gomel in the Europa League.

The injury jinx struck Cole again in the opening game of the Premier League season when he appeared as a substitute against West Brom, only to be replaced after barely 10 minutes on the pitch.

It is now understood that the Reds are prepared to respond positively to any interest in the former Chelsea schemer before Friday's transfer deadline.

Reds boss Rodgers has been busy improving his midfield options since taking charge and wrapped up the loan signing of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid on Saturday.

Rodgers has also added Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi to his squad this summer, leaving Cole with a battle to secure regular first-team football.

Rodgers Reveals City Offer

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says he had an approach to join Manchester City prior to his appointment as Swansea City boss two years ago.

Rodgers was out of work after leaving Reading in December 2009 and he was invited to have a look around City with a view to a possible coaching role.

However, after being impressed by the set-up at the Etihad Stadium, the Northern Irishman was subsequently offered the job of Swansea manager.

He led the Swans into the Premier League before leaving for Liverpool earlier this summer and he will face City boss Roberto Mancini at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

"The approach from City came after I left Reading," said Rodgers. "I was out of the game for six months and desperate to get back.

"My focus at that time was just getting back to working again. It could have been Manchester City anywhere.

"I was prepared to go and coach kids. Then I got a call about the possibility of going to City. I went up at the end of the 2009-10 season and took a few days looking around before meeting Roberto Mancini in Milan.

"I didn't really think that I was going to get a manager's job so the next best thing was at least working with top players. And if that opportunity was going to come up with City then brilliant.

"But all of a sudden, I got the chance to be No.1 at Swansea.

"In that little period at City, though, I saw the real inside plan of the club and they're trying to do it the right way.

"Yes, they're spending a bucketload of money but they're trying to create and build something."

Trio Score As U21s Win

Liverpool U21s got their first win of the 2012-13 season as they brought a 3-1 victory home from Crystal Palace.

Rodolfo Borrell watched his team open their campaign with a 1-1 against Wolves last week but it was three points on Bank Holiday Monday thanks to goals from Krisztian Adorjan, Jack Robinson and Michael Ngoo.

The Reds started slowly but took the lead from a direct free-kick, Adorjan finding the net via the post.

The hosts then levelled through Matt Parsons just after the interval as Liverpool again took their time to get going.

However, for the most part the young Reds were in control and enjoyed the majority of possession.

They got their reward when Robinson pounced on the ball at the far post, smashing home from four yards to restore the lead.

An Ngoo header on 75 minutes sealed the win, and the U21s now head into next Monday's home clash with Man City full of confidence.