Well against what seemed to be almost destiny today, we managed to avoid a penalty shootout at Anfield tonight via a last minute dagger by Dirk Kuyt, celebrating his 100th appearance for the club.
Again, when all seemed lost it was a fairly harmless ball in from the left side that the Dutch international snuck onto to punch it home from close range.
On the whole, our performance lacked any real sense of urgency for most of the match. We had very few ideas in the midfield or up top, and even our passing in from our defensive line was predictable and even tired at times. Gerrard clearly wasn’t fit as he didn’t put a touch on his left foot all night and found himself at nearly a walking pace towards the end. He then suffered a blow to the jaw apparently as the match drew to a close and appeared to spit out a tooth or two. Whether that was the case was not confirmed immediately, but it certainly did not appear to be a pleasant final minute for our captain.
A bright spot on the evening for me for Nabil El Zhar. As he was on the pitch, his confidence seemed to grow and grow. He was denied a fairly clear cut penalty late in extra time that upon replay showed a clear view for the referee who simply missed it. We were very fortunate that call didn’t help turn the tide against us, or at the least leave us with a shootout on our hands.
We should be thankful we managed to put away this Belgian side in the extra time period. I would like to offer them my condolences on ending their European campaign here today as they proved to be a solid side and deserving of a place in the group stages. Oguchi Onyewu, my fellow American, played a very solid role over the two legs in keeping Liverpool off the score sheets. Not a header out of place or a single missed clearance, I feel he belongs in the Premier League again himself. De Camarga, who I apologize to if I’m misspelling his name, and Diego also put in solid performances and they have nothing to be ashamed of.
Looking ahead to the group stages, I’m hoping to avoid any domestic rivals in the draw, and preferably as soft a group as possible. As much molding and shaping as we appear to need, It would certainly help us to buy some time to ensure we’re firing on all cylinders for the knockout stages.
I know it’s being said everywhere, but pulling out results like these when they are fairly undeserved does show a certain perseverance. Let’s learn something from all these struggles and keep it in the back of our minds for what tough times may await us ahead.
Now let’s go get three points from crybaby Martin O’Neill, as this is a match I personally cannot wait for. Every match we win brings us one match closer to defeating the scum and asserting our hold on the English title record as it should be.