Well I apologize to all of you in the media who had your knives out ready to carve Rafa and Liverpool open on Saturday evening. Rafa seems to be public enemy number 1 with whatever he says being reported with a negative spin. Soccernet even had an article with Rafa's rants, which was a bit of a farce really, but I suppose they got what they wanted as I read the article
Rafa has guts even the most ardent Liverpool hater, of which there are many, must concede. He starting 11 was without Riera, Kuyt, Alonso and Torres. Instead of the pre-match pundits praising Rafa's bold attacking line-up they were all waiting for us to slip up.Liverpool opened the game very well with Auerillo and Mascherano bossing the middle of the park. Yossi was everywhere and a clever move found him unmarked but he scuffed his shot from 8 yards. Auerllo hit the post from a free kick and then later dragged a shot wide after another fine Liverpool move. Portsmouth were never really threatening however Crouch and Nugent were full of plenty of running. Mascherano had a good shot that James did well to knock around the post.
Liverpool 3 4 3 formation was great. I couldn't tell who was playing where at times and perhaps we will see more of this in the future. Portsmouth did come into the game more in the 2nd half and with Ngog and Babel on the field I always felt the goal would come from Yossi. When Liverpool fell behind it was from a neat pass by Crouch to feed in the annoying Evertonian Nugent. (His 1-0 taunt would later get firmly placed where it belonged when Torres headed home)
Moments earlier Babel had the miss of the season when Yossi made a fantastic run to play in Kuyt. His fellow countrymen played a square ball that beat James. Babel just needed to open his body up and tap it in. Instead he completely missed the ball. Liverpool sub Kuyt was making himself look lively and almost got on the end of a poor Crouch back pass which David James had to use his hands to gain possession. Auerillo converted the difficult indirect kick. Liverpool continued to look for the winner but were unbelievably pegged back by another set piece. Webb generously gave a free kick, which I didn't think was a free kick. The ball was whipped in and our marking was nowhere. The "Terminator" headed home to give them a 2-1 advantage.
Moments before their goal Liverpool looked to have taken the lead when Kuyt was judged to have been offside by another fine pass by Auerillo. Kuyt took the goal well and seemed to have a good deal of confidence. Torres was on by this point and his run was found after a mistake by the Pompey back line. His pull back was not the best but somehow Kuyt powered in a shot past the hopeless James.
I didn't celebrate this goal as I was so upset that off that Portsmouth were even in a position to win it. I knew we had time left but wasn't sure we had it in us. With a minute to go Mascherano clever run found the always present Yossi who found a stationary Torres. His power header went for the upper corner that James couldn't stop.
Rafa must have had a sly smile that his subs were so involved in the victory and that his team played attractive football. Bedlam insured on the pitch, the stands and in my house
Somehow some in the media still stated that it was Rafa's fault the game was so close. I guess it was Ferguson's fault that United only win every game 1-0.
Let's remember people while we are not top of the league we are at least in the conversation for the league, something which has been missing for some time.
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