Liverpool and Birmingham City battled to a seventh-consecutive draw between the two Sunday, and the Reds have goalkeeper Pepe Reina to thank for that.
Reina pulled off three superb saves from close range in the first 45 to keep the score level, and while he wasn't tested much in the second period, he still minimized any possible threat from the Blues.
Liverpool was also denied a penalty in the first half when Fernando Torres was tackled from behind by Roger Johnson, but Ben Foster was never really tested throughout the match.
Birmingham showed why it hasn't been beaten at home in over a year as its midfielders gave no time on the ball to their Liverpool counterparts, and defenders got back quickly to block any possible shot from getting through. But they still lacked power going forward, shooting too many times from long range and meeting great crosses with poor headers. The tough tackling worked very well throughout the game as only Craig Gardner was booked for a foul on Lucas Leiva in the first half.
It was a fair result in that Liverpool did not really start to put on the pressure until the final ten minutes, and Reina most certainly did not deserve to be on the losing team. On the other side, Birmingham had several good chances in the first half which Reina excellently saved, but other than that wasted many good opportunities and possession.
Maxi Rodriguez was disappointing in replacing the injured Dirk Kuyt and Milan Jovanovic was also not at his best, which will possibly give Ryan Babel the opportunity and drive to really make an impact at Liverpool.
Paul Konchesky had an impressive debut for the Reds making several good tackles and getting forward well in the second half, but he was taken off toward the end with what Liverpool fans will be hoping is only a minor hurt. The final 15 minutes also saw a debut for Raul Meireles, but his only impact was to be caught offside in the final moments.
If Liverpool fans were hoping that Torres' winner against West Brom two weeks ago and his two goals for Spain a few days later were signs that he is back to his best, they'll have to wait a little while longer. Torres again looked rusty and slow and had difficulty keeping the ball.
This was the last game of Joe Cole's suspension after seeing red against Arsenal in the first match, and the Reds will be hoping that it's his creativity and quick feet they've been missing, especially ahead of next weekend's trip to Old Trafford. Meanwhile, it looks like the Blues will continue to rely on their home form to keep them in the Premier League, but with other mid-table teams improving, how long will it last?
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