Monday, September 17, 2007

Portsmouth 0 – 0 Liverpool

It was a game Liverpool needed to win to convince the doubters regarding their position as genuine title contenders.

The away side started the stronger continually looking for the early ball to Peter Crouch. After just 3mins it looked to be a winning strategy as Benayoun got onto the target man’s flick on to strike a powerful shot at James’ near post only for the Portsmouth keeper to save.

Portsmouth, despite all their hussle and bussle, were wasteful in possession. Their two widemen looked, as indeed they were, like centre forwards playing out of position. Liverpool were on top with both Alonso, on 10mins, and Crouch, on 16mins, coming close as Voronin’s busy style had him in the middle of everything.

With a quarter of the game gone the home side looked to be getting a better grip on the game. They were using every opportunity to put high balls in to the box as it looked like their best route to goal thankls to some excellent hold-up play by Kanu. On 23mins he set up Benjani but his deflected shot was well saved by Reina.

On the half hour Arbeloa tugged at Kanu’s shirt in the box preventing him from reaching a cross and the result was a slightly harsh penalty. Reina once again added to his reputation as a penalty stopper, saving low to his right.

The reaming 15mins of the half was a scrappy affair. Despite it not being a particularly dirty match the number of free kicks didn’t help the game to flow. Their was plenty of muscle in midfield for both sides but not a lot of creativity.

The first chance of the second half fell to Utaka of Portsmouth, the ball finding its way to him 8 yards out only for his shot to fly wide. 2 minutes later, after a good move down the right for Liverpool, Voronin saw his lob coming off the bar with James beaten.

Utaka was starting to look more of a threat as he began tucking inside and getting on the end of some better passing from Pompey. Liverpool too were finding more room and were linking up better and around the hour mark the game became quite end to end. On 63mins Muntari should have done better as he latched on to a ball over the top only to see his lofted shot land on the roof of the net. Liverpools best effort came from Benayoun on 65mins but he flashed over form a free kick.

Benitez finally brought on the big guns in the shape of Torres and Gerrard and it didn’t take long for them to have an impact. On 69mins Gerrard put Torres through but from an awkward angle the Spaniard fired over.

The game continued to open up and on 74 mins Kanu set up Muntari but again he couldn’t hit the target form inside the box. Voronin too had a chance but he volleyed straight at James.

The home crowd really got behind Porstmouth in the closing stages as they looked for one last push but it was the visitors who had the better of the chances. On 85mins Voronin was inches away from converting Torres’ ball across the box and in injury time Benayoun got in behind the Pompey defence only for Campbell to make an excellent recovery tackle.

Overall though Liverpool weren’t overly convincing and failed to get at Portsmouth enough in a game that, but for some wasteful finishing, could have gone the home sides way.

Man of the Match: Kanu – Held the ball up brilliantly and was the fulcrum of all Portsmouth’s attacks.

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