Friday, October 05, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 2 - 3 Udinese

Three second-half goals sent Liverpool spinning to defeat in their Europa League Group A match at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers' team led when Jonjo Shelvey headed them into a first-half lead from Stewart Downing's cross.

However, Antonio Di Natale levelled the scores early in the second half and a Sebastian Coates own goal and Giovanni Pasquale effort made it 3-1 before substitute Luis Suarez concluded a burst of three goals in five minutes when he reduced the deficit.

Liverpool made a bright start to the contest, with Oussama Assaidi shooting wide, Shelvey seeing an effort deflect off-target and from the resulting corner, the unmarked Coates sending a header towards goal which Zeljko Brkic just managed to keep out.

Udinese fired a warning at the other end when Jose Reina punched the ball in the direction of Di Natale, who responded with a strike that the Spaniard pushed away.

Reina then pulled off a superb stop to keep the scores level, getting down to turn Medhi Benatia's header from a Di Natale free-kick around the post.

The hosts went back on the attack and after Fabio Borini had dragged a shot across the face of goal having squirmed past a clutch of players, Brendan Rodgers' men made the breakthrough.

Shelvey collected the ball in midfield, sent it out wide to Downing, charged into the box and met the return cross with a crashing header past Brkic.

It was a third goal of the season for Shelvey, who had come off the bench to score a brace which secured Liverpool a 5-3 victory in their opening group game against Young Boys.

The Reds looked to have things under control, but Di Natale went close again just before the half-hour mark with an effort that just cleared the bar.

Liverpool pressurized once more but to no avail, with Glen Johnson firing over after Downing's shot was blocked, Jordan Henderson unable to make the most of a header and a Shelvey strike deflecting wide.

Rodgers had spoken in the build-up to the game about the need to keep tabs on Di Natale and less than a minute into the second half the 34-year-old punished the hosts for giving possession away.

Johnson lost the ball and it came to Di Natale, whose one-two with substitute Andrea Lazzari ended with the 34-year-old skipper expertly guiding a shot past Reina.

Rodgers reacted by introducing Steven Gerrard and Suarez, and the latter was unlucky not to restore Liverpool's lead when his acrobatic volley was inadvertently prevented from going in by the legs of his team-mate Shelvey.

Moments later, though, Udinese were in front themselves as Coates nodded a free-kick into his own net with 20 minutes remaining.

Within two minutes the Italian side had scored again to leave Anfield stunned as Di Natale brought down a long ball and rolled it to Pasquale, who drilled in from outside the box.

The goal rush did not let up, with Suarez swiftly pulling one back direct from a free-kick with a delightful curling shot.

A further effort from the Uruguayan was then clawed away by Brkic, who also pushed a low strike by Suarez to safety.

Another substitute, Raheem Sterling, also showed plenty of endeavour with a couple of late attempts, but the equalizer would not come and Liverpool find themselves third in the group after this defeat and Anzhi Makhachkala's defeat of Young Boys in the night's other Group A contest.

Rodgers: Liverpool Were Lazy Against Udinese

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers challenged his players to improve their concentration after seeing Udinese come from behind to win 3-2 at Anfield.

The Italians scored three second-half goals to transform the Europa League tie after Liverpool dominated the opening 45 minutes to lead 1-0.

"We concede goals too easily," Rodgers said. "It's an area we have to work on.

"We were very good in the first half but we lost concentration and became lazy and found ourselves 3-1 down."

This was a third successive home defeat for Liverpool but Rodgers can see the areas his side must improve on ahead of the visit of Stoke in the Premier League on Sunday. "I thought the team worked very well but we can't have to score three, four or five goals to win games," Rodgers said.

Liverpool completed nearly four times as many passes at their Italian opponents at Anfield but having seen Antonio Di Natale equalize 32 seconds after the restart, they conceded two further goals in three second-half minutes as the match slipped away.

Rodgers introduced Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling as Liverpool attempted to rescue a point and although the Uruguayan striker pulled a goal back, it was too little too late.

"We injected some quality into the game in the last 15 minutes or so and got a goal back but we are just disappointed that after such a good first-half performance we have given away such poor goals," Rodgers added.

The result leaves the Premier League club third in Group A, a point behind Udinese and Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala after two games.

"It is still very tight and there are some excellent teams in our group," Rodgers said.

"For us it is important to qualify of course, but it is also an opportunity to give some of our younger players a chance."

Liverpool Set Sights On Basic Signing

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has set his sights on another young addition at Anfield, with Josip Basic reportedly on the Reds radar.

TalkSPORT claims the 16-year-old Hadjuk Split starlet – who remains on Scholarship terms with the Croatian club – could sign his first professional deal on Merseyside if the club are successful in their pursuit.

Jutarnji List, a national paper in the player’s homeland, claims Liverpool have been ‘observing’ the player, and have taken a shine to the captain of the nation’s U17 side.

Basic would join a long list of talented youngsters at Anfield if he made the move to England, with Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom all getting their chance in both the Premier League and Europe.

Indeed, all three players are set to be offered new contracts after impressing at the start of the season for the Liverpool first team, and their progress suggests that Basic might be able to earn a senior chance if he joined the Rodgers revolution.

Benfica Forward Nolito Is Wanted By Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool are planning an £18million move for Benfica forward Nolito, reports talkSPORT.

The 25-year-old Spaniard is widely regarded as one of the Portuguese Liga's most sought-after assets, scoring 15 goals in all competitions last season.

And, after the summer arrival of new Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers, the Reds' long-term interest in the former Barcelona B star is believed to have strengthened.

Nolito - who can hug the touchline or drift inside - would fit nicely into Liverpool's new dynamic 4-3-3 formation, and could provide some much needed support to Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini.

The impact of Borini on Merseyside in particular, has been disappointing so far, with a return of just one goal in the Italian's first ten games, since arriving from Roma in the summer.

Rodgers will be keen to add more quality to his ranks in the attacking department, as Liverpool continue their search for a long-term replacement for club-record signing Andy Carroll - whose future almost certainly lies away from Anfield, after the £35million man was sent out on loan to West Ham.

Nolito netted 29 goals in 106 games during his time with Barcelona B, but turned down a professional contract at Camp Nou in 2011, in favour of more first-team opportunities with Benfica.

The forward's desire, and love for the game is sure to be an attraction for Rodgers, but whether Liverpool will be able to generate enough money to make a move possible, only time will tell.

Manchester United Defender Reveals Liverpool Snub

Manchester United defender Scott Wootton has revealed how he almost signed for Premier League rivals Liverpool.

The 21-year-old had a rather unconventional route to the United first-team, in that he hails from Birkenhead, and was initially on the books of Tranmere Rovers.

However, it wasn't long before Liverpool was showing an interest, and so he moved to their academy. Sir Alex Ferguson always kept in touch though, and when Wootton hesitated over signing scholarship forms at Anfield, the Red Devils made their move.

"I wasn't too sure whether I was going to sign (for Liverpool)," he is quoted by the Daily Mail. "United invited me down for a week's trial and said they wanted to sign straight after that. It was really good."

Wootton has been catapulted into United's first-team squad thanks to the injury crisis that has already robbed Ferguson of three central defenders, and leaves him at risk of being without a fourth if Jonny Evans fails to shake off the effects of a dead leg, ahead of the Premier League trip to Newcastle on Sunday.

The talented youngster made his first senior start against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, and came off the substitutes' bench in Tuesday's Champions League win over Cluj in Romania.

And, while United fans will be eager to see the club's injury problems eased, Wootton could be forgiven for wanting it to carry on a little bit longer.

"The last week or so has been amazing," he enthused. "To make my competitive debut in the League Cup and then to come on and play in the Champions League is a great feeling. It's something I'm made up with.

"It is always the way. As a young player, obviously you don't wish injuries on someone, but that's how you might get your chance. I got my chance against Newcastle through injuries. It's just the way it is."

Liverpool Secure Another Turkish Deal

Liverpool have followed the summer signing of Turkey international Nuri Sahin by securing a partnership with Turkish betting brand

The Reds already have a deal with bookmaker Paddy Power for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, while 118BET are the club's international betting partner.

In, Liverpool now have a partner with exclusive rights to the Turkish market only, and Anfield managing director Ian Ayre is delighted to see the club continue to expand its reach.

Ayre was also keen to outline Liverpool's eternal connection with Turkey, given their epic Champions League final defeat of AC Milan in Istanbul over seven years ago.

"Our partnership portfolio continues to expand globally through this new partnership in Turkey with," Ayre told the official Liverpool website.

"All football fans know that Liverpool FC has a special connection with Turkey, especially since our Champions League win in Istanbul back in 2005.

"We recently completed a TV series in Turkey called Soccer Prince which has enhanced our profile in the country and our partnerships with Turkey Tourism and Ramsey demonstrate the value that we're delivering to organizations in Turkey.

"When you mix all of those ingredients together, alongside the exciting promotions we plan to run with, the signs look good for a successful partnership."

Downing Disappointed By Rodgers

Liverpool’s Stewart Downing admitted he was “disappointed” by recent comments from Reds boss Brendan Rodgers regarding the winger’s future on Anfield.

Downing has been out of favour since Rodgers took the reins on the red side of Merseyside and the former Swansea boss last week questioned whether the £20million signing from Aston Villa had the “fight” to succeed at Liverpool.

While the 28-year-old revealed he was not happy about his manager's words, he insisted he was ready to work hard and show the kind of commitment that has been asked of him.

“I was disappointed by what was said but if that’s the way the manager sees it I have to take it,” Downing told the Liverpool Echo.

“That’s fine. I’ll fight, I’ll fight every day.

“I have done that since I was 10 years old when I was trying to get through at Middlesbrough.”

Downing started the season in Rodgers’ side, but was relegated to the bench after the disastrous opening day defeat to West Brom at The Hawthorns and has since found opportunities difficult to come by.

The England international was not even a substitute in the recent defeat to Manchester United and failed to get off of the bench in Liverpool’s first win of the season at Norwich City last weekend.

Despite the lack of playing time, Downing is determined to stay at Anfield and is hoping his fortunes change.

“I haven’t even considered the idea of leaving here. I’ve still got three years left on my contract and I intend to see that through. In fact I want to stay even longer than that,” he added.

“I love playing for Liverpool and it’s a great club with great fans. I don’t want to leave and I don’t want to play for anyone else.

“I’m enjoying it here. Yes, I’m disappointed that I’m not in the team at the moment but football is a funny game.

“Things can quickly change. This time next month I could be playing every week.”

Liverpool Defender To Be Rewarded With New Contract

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger is set to sign a new contract at Liverpool that should ensure the Dane spends his prime years of his career at Anfield.

The centre back, who was closely linked with moves to Manchester City and Real Madrid during the summer transfer window is close to signing a new £75,000 per week deal at Liverpool on a reported four year contract the Mirror report, following lengthy negotiations between the club and Agger’s representatives.

The 27-year-old arrived from Danish side Bromby in 2006, and despite occasionally being plagued with injury, had developed into one of the club’s most stylish and solid defenders.

It appeared on a number of occasions during the summer that Agger was on the verge of leaving the club. Manchester City reportedly had two bids rejected for the defender, while interest emanating from Barcelona and Real Madrid refused to go away. A move failed to materialize however, and the defender chose to stick around to be part of Brendan Rodgers’s Anfield revolution.

The young trio of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso are all reportedly to be offered long term deals at the club, following their impressive starts to the season. The Mirror reports that Suso is to be offered a five-year deal, amid suggestions that Real Madrid are monitoring the situation. The 18-year-old’s current deal expires next summer.

Liverpool Owners Endure Further Disappointment

Defeat to Manchester United almost two weeks ago was a bitter pill to swallow for the Liverpool faithful, but the club's owners have become reluctantly accustomed to losing out against their biggest rivals.

Fenway Sports Group's other team across the Atlantic, the Boston Red Sox, have just ended their worst season for 47 years - which included a staggering 13 losses against arch rivals the New York Yankees.

Liverpool fans would loath to contemplate losing just once to Manchester United in a single season, but can surely be thankful they do not have to face a pummelling similar to their American brothers.

John Henry, owner of Liverpool and the Red Sox, can hardly buy any luck at the moment - and he has certainly tried - with both his sides breaking records they would rather forget.

Liverpool recorded their first league win of the Premier League season last Saturday with a 5-2 defeat of Norwich after beginning the campaign in the worst fashion for over a century.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox's most disappointing season for almost 50 years included a run of 26 defeats in their final 33 contests, and 93 losses over the campaign as a whole.

And, as if to rub it in even further, their final outing ended in a humiliating 14-2 loss to - you guessed it - the Yankess, who progressed into the playoffs.