Hearts vs. Liverpool: Rating Reds in Europa League Qualifying Playoff

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Hearts vs. Liverpool: Rating Reds in Europa League Qualifying Playoff
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

After last year's humbling to Tottenham Hotspur, Hearts were determined to avoid being put to the sword in a similar fate this time round.

Liverpool, on the other hand, were coming off the back of a convincing defeat at the hand of West Bromwich Albion and needed to build confidence ahead of a number of big games coming up.

A number of first-team regulars were left back on Merseyside for this encounter, a perfect occasion for those on the fringes to show what they are capable of.

 

At the back

Pepe Reina (7) kept his place in goal, and had to be on hand to deny the determined hosts on more than one occasion.

Early on Arvydas Novikovas' long range effort, which was heading for the top corner, had to kept out, while Callum Paterson's late arrowed effort was also well dealt with.

Martin Kelly (7) wasn't particularly tested at the back but looked solid on the occasion he was, but it was the right-back who proved to be the difference maker.

He darted down the right and whipped in a terrific cross which was missed by Fabio Borini, but was turned into his own goal by Andy Webster.

The central defensive partnership for the night proved to be Daniel Agger (7) and Jamie Carragher (6).

Danish defender Agger enjoyed a solid night, made some good interceptions, brought the ball out from the back like everyone knows he can and also passed the ball well.

Carragher, on the other hand, recovered from an early slip-up, and had his time taken up by a battle with John Sutton.

Jack Robinson (5) made a big impact when he broke into the first team, but the 18-year-old was perhaps backpeddling a little too much last night before being replaced.

 

Midfield

Jay Spearing (6) could find himself on the periphery this season following more arrivals in this area, and has come under pressure from some sections who question his place in the squad.

Last night he patrolled in front of the back four fairly effectively without linking play to those in the advanced positions.

Jonjo Shelvey (5), on the other hand, had a very ineffectual night. He popped up now and then but went missing for large parts.

Much like Jordan Henderson (6), but the ex-Sunderland man did clip a good ball to Borini who could only slide it wide.

Charlie Adam (6) looked full of positivity in the early stages, testing Jamie MacDonald with a long range effort before being fouled when on a forward surge.

But he also disappeared in to anonymity for large parts of the game.

Raheem Sterling (8) was the one major plus point for Liverpool, seemingly the only player willing to run at the back four.

Perhaps quieter in the second period, his pace caused plenty of problems and his enterprising play deserved goal.

He should, however, have had an assist at the least, reacting quickly to make an interception before laying a chance on a plate for Borini, who hit the post.

 

Attack

If Borini (5) is the man brought in to solve last season's lack of goals conundrum, it could prove to be a long hard season once again.

He was out of the game for large parts at the weekend, and followed it up with a similar display here.

Any clinical striker, which is what Liverpool need, would have converted when Sterling squared for him, and he should of connected with Kelly's cross but was let off with an own goal.

 

Substitutes

Stewart Downing (6) linked up well with Sterling on the left, while Joe Allen (6) displayed his usual calm passing style.

Adam Morgan, on the other hand, was a late late replacement for Borini, and wasn't on the pitch long enough to really provide a critical judgement.

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