Posted by hiphopmama on August 24, 2009
Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa
0-1 Lucas (og), 34′
0-2 Davies, 45′
1-2 Torres, 72′
1-3 Young (pen), 75′
I don’t have time to write much, but I had to get a word in on this one. This makes two heartily satisfying failures for disliked opponents in the opening weeks of the season. Not much can compete with Manchester United’s stumble against Burnley, but at least they were on the road. Liverpool, on the other hand, were playing at home, where they didn’t lose a single game last season, and they couldn’t get the job done. In their defense, they were playing a staunch Aston Villa side that was typically well prepared by coach Martin O’Neill, and they were rather unlucky not to have gone ahead inside of ten minutes. All that aside, though, the game was theirs to take by the neck in the early going and they failed to do so, allowing O’Neill’s men to sneak in and steal it away from them.
Both teams had been under fire after disappointing starts to the season, and I think many expected Liverpool to fully bounce back in this one after romping all over Stoke City last week. And they had their chances to grab the lead right away, but a surprising lack of composure in the box left them goalless after three quick attempts. They still looked threatening for a long while after that, until an Ashley Young cross ricocheted off Lucas Leiva and past Reina into the back of the Liverpool net. Then, with the allotted minute of extra time already expired, Villa scored on a corner (which was disputed as well in its awarding as well) courtesy of Curtis Davies’ skyward scalp. Benitez was furious that time hadn’t already been called, but them’s the breaks and Liverpool defended it poorly.
The Merseysiders took a while to warm up in the second half, but when they did, they brought the pressure on full tilt and finally (and inevitably) scored on a volley by Torres into the top of the net. With their domination of the ball in the Villa half of the pitch, it seemed only a matter of time before they tied the game up. But Villa held firm, stepping in at all the right moments to knock balls away and alleviate the pressure, and the pushed Liverpool on the counterattack when they could. Only three minutes after Torres got them back in the game, Gerrard made a silly challenge on Nigel Reo-Coker, who probably wouldn’t have gotten to the ball anyway, and set up the penalty that sealed the game. Ashley Young calmly put it past Reina, and Liverpool visibly deflated. That was the most surprising part – watching the feisty Liverpool team seemingly concede defeat with so much time left on the clock and a recent history of miraculous comebacks to draw on. It was like they didn’t have the confidence to keep going or the belief to push for the difference-making goal. It doesn’t all come down to this, but I still think Xabi Alonso is going to be too big of a miss for them this season and will prevent them from achieving the same heights they did last year, when they still finished second. They may still make it to the silver medal spot, but it will be on many fewer points and to much greater disappointment from fans who expected this year to be an improvement on the last. My thoughts? Oh well. =)
p.s. Props to Brad Friedel for an excellent game between the pipes. He continues to amaze.
p.p.s. And also to ESPN for the good broadcast. It was the first I’ve gotten to watch of their Premier League coverage, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: ashley young, aston villa, brad friedel, curtis davies, epl, fernando torres, liverpool, lucas leiva, martin o'neill, nigel reo-coker, pepe reina, rafa benitez, steven gerrard, xabi alonso | 2 Comments »
Posted by hiphopmama on April 8, 2009
Manchester United 2-2 Porto
0-1 Rodriguez, 4′
1-1 Rooney, 6′
2-1 Tevez, 85′
2-2 Mariano, 89′
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea
1-0 Torres, 6′
1-1 Ivanovic, 39′
1-2 Ivanovic, 62′
1-3 Drogba, 67′
It’s been a good 48 hours for me as a sports fan. My Lakers routed an inferior Kings team, and I got all good outcomes in Champions League quarterfinal action. After watching Arsenal fight back to claim a slight edge via their away goal draw with Villarreal, I was treated to a surprisingly tight game between Man Utd and Porto. I fully expected United to steamroll the Portuguese team, kinda like Barcelona did to Bayern today, but instead Porto struck first with a goal within the first five minutes and put Fergie’s squad on the back foot. The goal came as the result of cascading errors from Manchester, but Porto soon returned the favor when Bruno Alves very generously played the ball right into the path of Wayne Rooney, who had only the keeper to beat in order to tie it up. It was an edgy game the rest of the way, with United dominating possession and creating plenty of chances but never able to break through while Porto settled for the occasional counterattack. Things stayed level until the last five minutes, when substitute Carlos Tevez scored from close range off a lovely flick from Rooney. The Old Trafford faithful must have thought that was the final blow, but there was one more dagger left and it was in Porto’s hands. Not long after United scored their second, Porto broke out another blistering counterattack, Lisandro found Mariano Gonzalez alone on the left, and he stabbed it past Van der Sar before the big keeper could fully close out on him. Now, with two away goals in their back pocket, Porto return home to play the second leg in a stadium where no English team has ever won. It still seems far-fetched to say United are anything but full contenders, but it does even things up a bit now, doesn’t it?
And it wouldn’t be crunch time in the Champions League without a Liverpool-Chelsea match-up. This time it went down in the quarterfinals with Liverpool riding a wave of excellent form which included an impressive win against Man Utd at Old Trafford in the Premier League and a routing of Real Madrid in the UCL. Chelsea have looked resurgent under Hiddink, but the loss to Tottenham a couple weeks ago took the wind out of their sails somewhat and relegated their title hopes to the Wishful Thinking bin. So it was interesting to say the least to see them put in this kind of performance at Anfield, where Liverpool hadn’t lost in a couple millennia or so. It didn’t start promisingly for the Blues, who went down early on some sweet set-up play by Liverpool which resulted in a clinical strike by Torres. After that, though, the Merseysiders wilted from view into an indistinct mass with no one stepping up to carry the weight. Drogba followed the goal almost immediately with a one-on-one chance that Reina managed to stop, and Chelsea kept their foot on the pedal. Branislav Ivanovic became the surprise hero after he scored two goals, both headers off Chelsea corners, and gave his team a commanding lead with the two away goals. Drogba capped it by scoring Chelsea’s third off an assist from Malouda and putting Liverpool’s Champions League dreams in serious doubt.
Barcelona also embarrassed Bayern Munich, making them look like a B-league squad rather than the Bundesliga juggernaut they’ve been. They put four goals on them in the first half, then settled back and wiled away the second 45 minutes. I didn’t care too much about this one, but I always like to see Spanish sides do well, so I consider it a personal victory too. God has well and truly smiled on me.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: bruno alves, carlos tevez, champions league, chelsea, drogba, fernando torres, guus hiddink, ivanovic, liverpool, malouda, manchester united, mariano gonzalez, porto, wayne rooney | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on March 14, 2009
Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool
- 1-0 Ronaldo (pen), 23′
- 1-1 Torres, 28′
- 1-2 Gerrard (pen), 44′
- 1-3 Aurelio, 77′
- 1-4 Dossena, 90′
That was fun. That was hella fun, if you’ll forgive the CA slang. I’m not a Liverpool fan by any stretch – I root avidly for two of the Big Four and just as fervently against the other two – but United has rapidly become the greatest evil in the Premier League, perhaps the world. (Inter is a close second, and I’d love to see either or both completely self-destruct. Fat chance.) That makes me a Liverpool supporter for all intents and purposes, at least in games like this one which give Chelsea (or anyone else, for that matter, Liverpool included) a chance to knock the fifth horseman of the apocalypse from its perch.
Things didn’t start in too promising a fashion, as ManYoo put Liverpool under pressure early and often and were justified in earning a penalty that Ronaldo blazed home in the 23rd minute. With United’s vaunted defense and an early lead at home, it seemed like a tough ask to expect Liverpool to come back for a tie, let alone a win. But the Reds played as if their season depended on it, which it did given the seven point gap at the top, and they scraped together enough moments of brilliance which – however brief – helped them turn things around.
Liverpool were gifted their first goal by Nemanja Vidic, who misplayed a long ball in the air and then couldn’t recover in time to prevent Torres from securing it and beating Van der Sar to tie the game. It was 1-1 and game on again. Yet United still looked the stronger of the two sides, creating plenty of chances and keeping Liverpool largely on the back foot. It seemed like only a matter of time before they scored again to regain the lead, but they were again caught out by a quick counter, as Torres released Gerrard with a beautiful through ball and Evra brought him down in the box. It was another clear penalty, and Gerrard make no mistake with the PK, sending it easily past Van der Sar for the lead.
For almost a full 30 minutes after the restart, Manchester looked all but certain to score, with Wayne Rooney sending some superb crosses into the box. They kept getting closer and closer, and my stomach kept churning, and all that was before Sir Alex inserted Giggs, Scholes, and Berbatov at the 74 minute mark. With Manchester going for broke, you couldn’t help but think their attack would finally break through, but the usually perfect Vidic made another critical error in fouling Steven Gerrard just outside the area. He was deemed to be the last defender and, perhaps a bit harshly, was sent off with a straight red. It was, as they say, a cynical tackle – more like a take-down – and an obvious booking, but the red was less certain. I wasn’t complaining, though, especially when Fabio Aurelio stepped up and curled the free kick into the corner of the goal, leaving Van der Sar flat-footed as he watched it whip into the net.
ManYoo still had a few more opportunities to get one back, but luck just wasn’t with them today, and we were all treated to the pleasure of watching Ronaldo completely miss the ball on a nice big swing around the edge of the six-yard box. It was an absolutely perfect way to end the match, aside from the exquisite goal Andrea Dossena scored to close things out. As seconds ticked down toward the final whistle, Manchester were AGAIN beaten by a long ball over the top, with Ferdinand being the guilty party this time. When he failed to deal with the threat, Dossena took one touch to loft it up and over Van der Sar for the fourth and final goal just before time.
There are not enough adjectives to describe happy this result makes me. The win for Liverpool means that they are now within 4 points of United, and Chelsea have a chance to close to within 4 as well when they take on Manchester City tomorrow at Stamford Bridge. Of course, Man Utd still have a game in hand (can they just catch up already??), but I refuse to look at the negative side of things right now. Instead, I’m going to act blissfully ignorant of the fact that United are too solid a team, too well coached, and with too impressive a pedigree to slip enough for anyone to overtake them. None of that matters right now. The gap is 4, and I can still dream.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: andrea dossena, berbatov, chelsea, cristiano ronaldo, epl, fabio aurelio, fernando torres, liverpool, manchester united, nemanja vidic, paul scholes, rio ferdinand, ryan giggs, sir alex ferguson, steven gerrard, van der sar, wayne rooney | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on March 11, 2009
Juventus 2-2 Chelsea (Agg: 2-3)
- 1-0 Iaquinta, 19′
- 1-1 Essien, 45′
- 2-1 Del Piero (pen), 74′
- 2-2 Drogba, 83′
Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid (Agg: 5-0)
- 1-0 Torres, 16′
- 2-0 Gerrard (pen), 28′
- 3-0 Gerrard, 47′
- 4-0 Dossena, 88′
I’m going with the good news first on this one. Chelsea’s 1-0 home victory in the first leg ended up playing a big role in their ability to stave off Juve’s attack, as the lack of that crucial away goal made it extremely difficult for the Old Lady to get past the Blues. Juventus was frankly unlucky not to have scored at Stamford Bridge, and they again played well in front of their home fans, opening the scoring early on a nice break-out goal by Iaquinta, who was put through by a lovely ball from David Trezeguet. The momentum looked to be moving away from Chelsea until a 44th minute free kick by Drogba appeared to cross the line. The ref didn’t see it that way, however, and play continued, until Michael Essien poked home the rebound off a long distance shot by Lampard just minutes later. That goal virtually assured the result as it gave Chelsea the tie-breaking away goal and required Juve to score two more to win. Things got even worse for the Italians when Chiellini was sent off for his second yellow card in the 70th minute, but the 10-man squad managed to win a free kick that led to a penalty when Juliano Belletti momentarily lost his mind and knocked the ball away with his hands inside the area. Del Piero converted the penalty to make it a match again, but ten minutes later Drogba sealed it by jabbing in a goal off a low cross by Belletti, beating Buffon and clinching Chelsea’s place in the quarterfinals.
Cech had a great game for Chelsea, and he couldn’t really be blamed for either goal. He was Chelsea’s most important player for much of the match, taking balls confidently and stopping good efforts from the Juve players. But Essien was the hero of the night. He seemed doubtful to start, just coming off the injury that has kept him out all season, but Hiddink rolled the dice and came out looking like a genius. Essien had to play out of position, on the right side of midfield, and he occasionally looked out of his element, but he never quit fighting out there and hustled his way to that first goal, following Lampard’s shot in and getting himself in position to score the rebound. He was understandably subbed in the 66th minute, although why it was for Juliano Belletti is anyone’s guess. That stupid handball that led to the penalty seemed more evidence against his inclusion, although he did redeem himself somewhat with the cross that set up Drogba’s goal. Oh well. Hiddink got everything else right.
As for that other match… Well, that one’s still painful to talk about. As much grief as it gives me, Real Madrid really are my number one team, and to see them crash and burn like that was pretty awful. It was the kind of performance that says to me that they won’t really be challenging for the La Liga title after all. Granted, they were probably never going to take it away from Barça, but it seemed likely that they could at least make it close. Now, after the draw with Atletico and this disgusting effort (if you can even call it that) against Liverpool, they don’t look likely to continue the outstanding form that got them back into the race in the first place. And anyway, Barcelona isn’t likely to continue this lull much longer, and once they recover their form they will be out of reach. Unless the fatigue of multiple tournaments continues and Real Madrid go absolutely insane all the stars align, this is probably the end of the road for the reigning champions. You just don’t recover from that kind of loss without some kind of serious soul searching, and unless Juande Ramos can channel Tony Robbins levels of inspiration, that will take some time. And now I’m going to cry.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, belletti, champions league, chelsea, del piero, dossena, drogba, fernando torres, gus hiddink, iaquinta, juande ramos, juventus, liverpool, michael essien, real madrid, steven gerrard | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on October 6, 2008
I don’t really give a shit about either of these teams, except that they both mildly irritate me, so it was really a no-win. On the one hand, I was kinda pulling for Man City as the new kid on the block against the established big guns, but on the other hand, Robinho is a whiny little bitch and Man City is way overestimating themselves in believing they can challenge the top teams right now. So you’ve signed a couple overpriced players. That’s not nearly enough to even put you in the ballpark with teams like Chelsea and Man Utd, who have been vastly overpaying players for years and have accumulated quite a few primadonnas.
Oh yeah, the game. Stephen Ireland put City ahead in the 19th minute after the ball was rather hopelessly knocked around the box a few times. Javier Garrido then put in a sweet free kick in the 41st, and Man City went into halftime with a 2-0 lead. The second half belonged to Liverpool. Man City seemed to be on their heels the whole time, except for a couple opportunities that passed them by. Robinho in particular had a perfect goal scoring set-up, but he sent it over the bar. And he was offside anyway. The Reds finally struck back in the 56th minute, when Steven Gerrard started the attack with a through ball to Arbeloa, who put his cross in prime striking territory for Fernando Torres. It should also be noted that Robinho was too lazy to defend Arbeloa, helping provide the space for the cross. Pablo Zabaleta was sent off ten minutes later for a reckless challenge on Xabi Alonso, and Liverpool seized the advantage, with Torres scoring his second on a header from Gerrard’s corner kick. City tried mightily to hang on for the tie, but when Kuyt smashed home a Torres shot deflection in stoppage time it seemed inevitable. Liverpool also finished the game with ten men after Skrtel went off with an unclear injury that appeared to have been pretty severe, judging by his reaction.
Pitiful performance by Manchester City, and another thrilling come from behind victory for Liverpool, who stayed tied with Chelsea at 17 points. They’re currently in second place behind Chelsea on goal differential.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: dirk kuyt, epl, fernando torres, javier garrido, liverpool, manchester city, robinho, scores, stephen ireland | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on September 21, 2008
Sunderland 2 – 0 Middlesbrough
- Sunderland started the game dismally, but after Stewart Downing sent a penalty kick over the cross bar, Sunderland were re-energized and Chopra scored both goals in the last ten minutes to give them the win.
West Ham 3 – 1 Newcastle
- West Ham’s new manager Gianfranco Zola got a win with two goals and an assist from David Di Michele. Owen scored Newcastle’s goal, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Magpies continue to look awful.
Blackburn 1 – 0 Fulham
- This hard-nosed battle wasn’t won until the 84th minute. Carlos Villanueva sent in a nice cross from the left side which Roque Santa Cruz headed down into dangerous territory, and Matt Derbyshire knocked it home. Blackburn manager Ince looked good for bringing in both Villanueva and Derbyshire as subs late in the game.
Liverpool 0 – 0 Stoke City
- Steven Gerrard struck one in off a direct kick from the left side, but the goal was disallowed for an apparent “off side” call. Kuyt was near the goal line, but the call was dubious, even according to the Stoke manager after the game. Liverpool kept the pressure on, but they just couldn’t pull the trigger, especially Torres. It was a disappointing draw that let Arsenal slip by them into first place.
Bolton 1 – 3 Arsenal
- Arsenal played pretty impressively in this one, especially in the first half. They had myriad chances to score early goals, but Bolton grabbed the lead first on a header by Kevin Davies off a corner kick in the 14th minute. It was weak defending on the set piece, but Arsenal immediately turned around and put them under pressure. They saw a couple go off the woodwork, but eventually (three minutes later) Eboue put one in from the left side off a pass from Bendtner. It was Eboue’s first Premier League goal, and he played aggressively the rest of the way, looking to duplicate it. Bendtner then scored one himself off some nice, Arsenal style build-up play. Bolton upped the pressure in the second half, but Almunia especially played well, taking balls decisively and making some nice saves, and Arsenal added a third goal by Denilson which was set up by a blazing run by Theo Walcott. I suppose they could have played some stouter defense in the second half, but all around it was a good win for Arsenal, and it put them back at the top of the table. The low point of the match was a harsh foul (which only earned a yellow card) by Kevin Davies which sent Clichy out of the game with a bad-looking leg injury. (Update: Clichy suffered only bruising to his shin, with no fracture. Whew.)
Posted in soccer, Uncategorized | Tagged: almunia, arsenal, bendtner, blackburn, bolton, carlos villanueva, clichy, david di michele, denilson, dirk kuyt, eboue, epl, fernando torres, fulham, gianfranco zola, kevin davies, liverpool, matt derbyshire, michael chopra, michael owen, middlesbrough, newcastle, roque santa cruz, steven gerrard, stewart downing, stoke city, sunderland, theo walcott, west ham | Leave a Comment »