Liverpool Vs. PSV Eindhoven: A Minute-by-Minute Report
Preamble: Good evening and welcome to tonight's matchup featuring Liverpool FC vs. Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. Liverpool have one of the toughest groups in the Champions League this year with Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid and Marseille all competing to make it to the knockout round. Whoever finishes bottom of the group will feel that they have too strong a squad to be missing out on further European competition.
"Life sucks for you," Michel Platini will say before adding, "Wenger sucks."
Reflections on yesterday: Arsenal, a team that couldn't put the ball into the net by themselves against Hull, trounced a very solid Porto squad 4-0 yesterday. What was the difference between the two matches? Emmanuel Eboue didn't play against Porto. That's the only change to the squad that Wenger made. Maybe this means something...
Bate Borisov jumped out to 2-0 lead against Italian giants Juventus before crashing back to earth and hanging on for a 2-2 draw. Despite leaving two points for the taking, Bate has to feel good about the way they played. It's tough to score against Italian sides, even tougher when Gigi Buffon and his neck scarf (which is in no way feminine) are facing you.
Manchester United's young right back Rafael Da Silva is the most electric defender I've seen in a long time. He was unlucky not to score with one of his impressive efforts last night. Berbatov finally got on the scoresheet though. There's a £30m monkey off his back.
Tonight's prediction: Liverpool 2-0 PSV. The fans at Anfield will give Liverpool a boost over the pesky-yet-effective visitors from the Netherlands.
Though...I may need to amend that. The Guardian has just pointed out that the last game Andreas Isaksson, the PSV keeper, played on English soil, Middlesbrough (Boro!) thumped his Manchester City side 8-1.
Very well, 4-1 to the Scousers then. And I'll entertain myself with some classic Liverpool moments until the match kicks off. Liverpool FC is hard as hell, United, Tottenham and Arsenal...
Is there a funnier sight than Bruce Grobelaar accusing Englishmen of talking with a funny accent while he's dressed like an early 90s West Coast hip-hop star?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera, Torres, Keane.
PSV: Isaksson, Kromkamp, Simons, Marcellis, Salcido, Brechet, Mendez, Culina, Bakkal, Amrabat, Wuytens.
Tonight's referee is Felix Brych. This is who Liverpool will be surrounding as soon as a call goes against them.
And we're ready for kickoff!
Can I just point out that these guys also sing "You'll Never Walk Alone"?
1 min: PSV in their white away strip while Liverpool is modeling their classic red home kits. Liverpool begins with possession.
3 min: We've got our first whistle of the evening as Jamie Carragher is bundled over near the midfield line.
4 min: Our first corner of the match as Torres receives a beautiful through-ball on the right flank. A PSV defender bundles it out of bounds.
5 min: GOOOOAAALLLL! (Liverpool 1-0 PSV, Kuyt) Off the corner from Gerrard, Torres volleys and forces a save. While the PSV defence stands around, Kuyt runs in and smashes home the rebound from about 15 yards. Isaksson did well to get a hand on it, but Kuyt's shot was too much.
6 min: My roommate brings up a good point. How do you pronounce 'Kuyt'? Derek Rae seems fond of saying 'KOWT', while the announcers in FIFA 08 say something along the lines of 'Kweecht'. It could be 'Jones' for all I know.
12 min: Liverpool have enjoyed the lion's share of the possession so far, though Isaksson has really only had to deal with the two earlier chances.
13 min: Amrabat makes a nice run into the Liverpool area, but loses possession. Nothing comes from the resulting throw-in for PSV.
15 min: Anorthosis Famagusta has taken a 1-0 lead in their match against Panathinaikos. Could there be another big result for a small club today?
18 min: It's two-nil to Famagusta over in Cyprus. Panathinaikos is no Juve, but this would still be an upset.
20 min: Robbie Keane receives the ball in the PSV area, and attempts to dribble past the PSV defense. He has a halfway decent shout for a penalty as shown by the replay, but the referee probably assumed he was diving by the theatric way he threw his arms up.
22 min: This should come as no surprise to anyone, but Liverpool has enjoyed 64% of the possession and completed twice as many passes as PSV at this point. It's like Liverpool are taking a page out of PSV's book and facing their own reserve team in a cup competition.
25 min: Amrabat appears to be the only man in a PSV kit aware of the fact that there is indeed a match going on right now. If he had some teammates, this would be a close game.
29 min: Derek Rae informs us that Liverpool has never won the first two matches in the group stage in Champions League competition. This is a surprise, but if they keep playing like this they'll end that streak.
30 min: Torres again with a chance to create, and creates a corner kick. Aurelio takes it, Torres again gets a shot from it. This time it's just wide. Great stuff from the Spaniard though.
33 min: Anfield has launched into a half-hearted rendition of the Whitestripes' 'Seven Nation Army'. Can somebody please explain to me how a song written by a brother and sister from Detroit has made such a splash in European football? It was heard at every game during Euro 2008.
34 min: GOOOOOAAALLLL (Liverpool 2-0 PSV, Keane) Dirk Kuyt-Jones threads a ball down the side to Torres, who crosses to Keane. One touch past Isaksson and Keane starts doing cartwheels. What a great goal out of Keane to open his account for Liverpool.
36 min: There's Amrabat again. He opts to take on six Liverpool defenders by himself while the other white shirts in the area appear very interested in the grass at their feet.
40 min: Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, turnover, pass, pass, pass, turnover, etc. PSV appears content to sit on this deficit.
42 min: Torres attempts to trap a cross using his wedding vegetables and falls to the ground. Ouch.
44 min: Riera whips a dangerous-looking cross into the PSV box which is cleared away for a corner. Liverpool look like they may add a third goal before halftime.
45 min: Just as I type that last sentence, Gerrard feeds Torres in the box. The Spaniard promptly slips and falls on the wet pitch at Anfield. Probably would have had a decent shot at goal if he had been able to stay on his feet.
End of the half: Mercifully for PSV, the referee blows for haltime after a single minute of stoppage time.
Shakhtar Donetsk has snagged a late first half goal to go into the break up 1-0 on Barcelona. Could there be another upset brewing?
Halftime musings: Liverpool don't look like they are trying very hard at all, and are still completely dominating the match.
To my American readers, there are only six days left to register to vote if you want to have a say in the upcoming presidential election. I'd like to make the radical suggestion that we elect a capable leader for the first time since 1996. One whose name rhymes with 'Barack Obama'.
Panathinaikos has pulled back a goal thanks to a penalty. 2-1 to the Cypriots then.
47 min: Erik Pieters has come on for Jeremie Brechet for PSV. Puzzling substitution, that. Why bring on a defender when you're down 2-0, desperately needing a result?
49 min: Kuyt-Jones takes the ball into the corner and earns a free kick for the Reds in a dangerous area. Gerrard swings it in, and the ball is still bouncing around the mouth of the PSV goal. Good ideas from Liverpool, but poor execution.
51 min: PSV earn a corner, which is wasted by Mendez. This must be depressing if you're from Eindhoven. Luckily, I am not.
54 min: Pepe Reina must be incredibly bored at this point. He seems to be making bracelets for his teammates out of little bits of grass. Touching. Meanwhile, Fernando Torres goes down under a heavy challenge. He looks okay if a bit shaken.
56 min: A lovely through ball to Torres from Gerrard, and Torres once again loses his footing with a chance to strike at goal. Perhaps he should have switched boots at halftime, because that's a chance he normally takes.
57 min: Amrabat takes a looping, inaccurate shot at goal from about 35 yards. Well, at least he's trying.
58 min: After a Kromkamp handball, Gerrard hits a free kick right at Isaksson, who promptly sends him a thank-you note.
59 min: Amrabat takes another shot, this time from 25 yards out. It's hit with a lot of pace, and would have been real trouble for Reina if the goal were 15 yards to the right.
61 min: Stijn Wuytens makes way for Danny Koevermans. That's a better sub for PSV, an attacker coming on for a midfielder.
63 min: Arbeloa gets taken down by...you guessed it, Amrabat! This is a dangerous spot for a free kick. Gerrard lines up behind it with a menacing look, runs over the ball, and Fabio Aurelio takes an incredibly weak shot. I'm guessing that's not what Rafa Benitez had in mind.
66 min: Torres in on goal and tries to cheekily flick past the keeper with the outside of his right foot. He'll be embarrassed to put that one wide.
67 min: Yossi Benayoun is taking his pants off on the Liverpool bench. He's either eaten some bad fish at halftime or is going to come on.
68 min: I guess the food was fine. Benayoun comes on for Riera.
70 min: Gerrard fires a rocket deep into the Kop end. Oh, his shot was high and wide as well.
74 min: Liverpool have another sub ready, but I haven't seen who. I'll let you know when he comes on...Meanwhile Torres is down again. Twice. Yellow card for Marcellis.
76 min: A knock at my door has forced me to miss the substitution, but I got back in time for the free kick...
76 min: GOOOOAALLLLL! (Liverpool 3-0 PSV, Gerrard) Stevie G nets his hundredth goal for Liverpool on a thundering free kick. Isaksson never had a chance on this one.
78 min: GOOOAALLLL! (Liverpool 3-1 PSV, Koevermans) A good cross into the box from the wing sits perfectly for Koevermans who meets the ball in stride and flicks it into the top corner past a frozen Pepe Reina. Great goal from Koevermans but it will not be enough. My prediction is still in play, though.
81 min: Liverpool substitution: Ryan Babel on, Steven Gerrard off. As he leaves, Derek Rae tells us that Gerrard was given an honorary fellowship by John Moores University over the summer. I'm sure he's off to hit the books, then.
85 min: Amrabat, who has probably run about 437 miles during this match, is still fighting hard for PSV. He's been their best player by a wide margin.
89 min: All that's left for Liverpool is to make it home safely and crack open a postgame beverage. 'You'll Never Walk Alone' is echoing through Anfield right now, in far less than perfect harmony.
90 min: PSV will be forced to suffer through three additional minutes. Meanwhile, Barcelona has finally equalised in their match.
90+2 min: Torres gets the ball close to goal, holds it and cuts back for Lucas (there's the sub I missed!) Lucas takes a powerful shot that is deflected out for a corner. A short corner. Nothing comes of it because nothing ever comes of short corners.
Final whistle: Liverpool are now tops of Group D with six points, setting up an exciting showdown with Atletico Madrid each of the next two matchdays. PSV meanwhile are left to go home and search for answers.
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