Europa Cup semis – Part deux

Liverpool need another from Benayoun

Congrats to Fulham who played an inspiring second half to come back from a goal down. Congrats to Madrid who kept on pressing. Should be a great final but I believe Fulham will come out trumps!

TWEET TWEET TWEET - Its over. Forlan’s goal did it. I think Liverpool the way they played in the first half deserved to go but Benitez changed his tactics and their defensive mindset ensured that Atletico are the deserving finalists. Well a fitting end to Liverpools season. They still have a chance at 4th but not with the Spaniard in charge.

120:00 -  Only extra time left to play. Deggen has been terrible. The only positive if Liverpool lose is that Benitez will have to leave. He might take some players with him but at least he will be gone.

117:00 – Commentators blaming ash cloud…thats dumb. Blame Benitez. I know he told them to be more defensive in the second half. Forlan off Camacho in.

112:00 – Deggen almost responsible for Atletico’s second goal as he fails to close down Simao who sends it just over the bar….Pacheco looking to come on for Liverpool, Benayoun off. Who needs creativity right now. HOW ABOUT TAKING OFF A DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER!!!!

110:00 - Great attacking move by Benitez as he takes off Mascherano who has been Liverpools best player and replaces him with…wait for it…a defender. Hopefully Benitez will prove me wrong but really, YOU HAVE ATTACKING PLAYERS ON THE BENCH YOU DOUCHE!

108:00 - Atletico are taking their foot off the pedal. Liverpool pressing but their final ball is letting them down.

106:00 - Second half underway!

TWEET TWEET - First half of extra time is over. Benitez must be ruing his defensive tactics in the second half. What am i talking about, he’s a stubborn mule. Liverpool need to score and have 15 minutes to do it. Can Gerrard save them as he has done so many times in the past? Can Kuyt who has been quiet sneak in a goal…we shall see

101:00 – Jurado sends a shot centimeters wide of Reina’s left post. Great shot by the newly introduced player. GOOOL by Forlan as Liverpools defense is picked apart and he slots it home. 2-1 Liverpool, 2-2 on aggregate but Atletico have the away goal.

99:00 – Assuncao off and Jurado in for Atletico. They’re going for it! Ball is going back and forth over the Liverpool penalty area. Liverpool defense is in taters but so is the Madrid final ball.

98:00 -Benayoun is rampant as he glides past  two defenders to win a corner. Nothing comes of it but Liverpool look menacing.

95:00 – GOOOOALLL…BENAYOUN. The little Israeli with a beautiful finish as he collects an over the top ball from Lucus ( a gorgeous ball) and rifles one into the corner of the net! 2-1 Liverpool on aggregate. Away goals still count. So no chance for penalties. Liverpool need a third to make it safe.

94:00 – Atletico really attacking and Liverpool really playing defensively. I hate Benitez.I’ve had enough…go to Juventus!

Back to Anfield - Liverpool kick it off. extra footie!

TWEET TWEET TWEET. Fulham are through to the final…what a comeback…GLORIOUS…now who will meet them in Hamburg? So much to write about. Congrats to the plucky club from London!

Extra time in the Liverpool game…good footie all around today!

Van Horsey face has an opportunity to send Hamburg through but scuffs his shot/ 1 minute left in the Fulham game.

3 minutes of extra time in the Fulham game, 2 in the Liverpool game.

89:00 – A Gerrard slip gives the ball to Forlan but Mascherano who has been excellent in this game mops up. Aquilani is subbed with loud applause coming from the appreciative Liverpool fans. Morrocan El Zhar is on for Liverpool.

3 minutes left in regulation in both games

81:00 – Glen Johnson is coming into the game as he dribbles around 2 players and shoots straight at De Egea and goes out for a corner. De Egea catches the corner and on the counter Carragher commits a foul and is booked. Set piece was nicely worked but Liverpool are up for it defensively…barely.

GOOOOOALLL – GERA- FULHAM up 2-1. AMAZING! 15 minutes left!!!!

73:00 - Both teams playing a little more cautiously as we have 15 minutes left. No substitutions yet for either team.

GOOOALLL – Fulham – Davies controls a Murphy pass with an expert touch and sends an acrobatic shot and scores. Crowd is rampant! 1-1 but Hamburg have the vital away goal. C’MON FULHAM

67:00 – Mascherano does very well to get the ball deep in his penalty area and brings the it up and passes to Babel who charges across the half way line and passes to Kuyt who is fouled. Yellow card for the Atletico defender.

Duff comes close off a free kick. Fulham really are sticking it to the Hamburg defense. 30 minutes left in that game. They need 2!

61:00 -  Meanwhile back at Anfield, the game is calming down a bit. Liverpool need a goal. I don’t fancy them in extra time, though I do like Pepe if it comes down to penalties.

Fulham are really pressing the Hamburg defense. I predict a goal soon!

In the other semi, Clint Dempsey is on for an injured Zamora. Can he inspire Fulham to an epic comeback?

54:00 – Atletico are attacking more and more down the left side and at Mascherano. He’s doing a decent job back there but its his forays forward that have been instrumental in Liverpool’s attack.

50:00 – Atletico are pressing harder and harder. This will leave them open to the counter. Everyone is running hard…even Babel!

Aquilani not sitting down in this game and is all over the pitch

Game is back on and Atletico immediately go on the attack. Should be a cracking second half!

Meanwhile in the other semi, Fulham are down 1-0 due to a gorgeous free kick by Petric. This is not the first time they have been down at half in this competition but they have it all to do in the second half. I suspect Deuce will be introduced soon. I’m off to make a fresh fruit smoothie.

TWEET TWEET. And that’s half. An all out attacking game and highly entertaining. I’m happy as Liverpool is finally playing well for maybe the second time all season. Aquilani the goal scorer and Gerrard are working well together. Kuyt is doing his usually stuff and Benayoun is creative as always. No doubt Benitez’s message in the dressing room will be to play conservative in the second half and play for penalties…I kid I kid!

44:00 – GOOOOALLLLL – AQUILANI – Benayoun scampers down the right wing and pulls back a great cross that Aquilani volleys first time into the corner. All squared up on aggregate. Good stuff by Liverpool and credit to Atletico for not parking the bus. They will have to go out and get the away goal now. 1-0 Liverpool, 1-1 on aggregate.

42:00 – Gerrard gets a yellow card as he tackles late from behind. He has been all over in this game

37:00 – Play is simmering down a bit, as the referee is making petty calls. Benayoun lays a nice shot off for Gerrard but unfortunately cannot get out of the way of his captains goal bound shot which deflects of the Israeli’s leg.

31:00 – GOOAL…or not…Agger heads it in but offside is called. Nice set piece by Gerrard and a nicer header by the Dane. Still 0-0 and Liverpool still down a goal on aggregate.

28:00 - Reyes makes a gorgeous pass that Reina pushes the striker out wide. With an open goal, Atletico fail to score.

26:00 - Wow. Where has this been all season from Liverpool. Quick one time pinging football leads to Mascherano sending in a low cross that a sliding Kuyt sends over the bar. That was lovely from Liverpool. It has all to do with Aquilani deciding to eff his manager and play a more advanced role. Oh Benitez what an arse you are. Good thing you kept the Italian on the bench for most of the season.

24:00 – Liverpool playing beautiful slick passing football until the ball comes out to Mascherano as a RB but his cross fails to find a red shirt. Liverpool need to keep up this pressure. Atletico’s defense is even worse than the Reds.

18:00 – Atletico has woken up and are enjoying more time on the ball. Liverpool are being pressed back. Raul Garcia gets some space and sends in a gorgeous shot that Reina does very well to save. Corner for Atletico. Liverpool have to watch out.

12:00 – Atletico counter as Aquero skips around Lucas but his cross to Simao is immediately closed down by three red shirts and danger is averted. So far this game is much more exciting than the first leg.

11:00 – Aquilani shows why he was paid so much as he has a nice shot saved. He’s an attacking player Rafa. Let him loose. You can play both him and Gerrard…sigh!

9:00 – Liverpool dominating possession but aside from the first shot by Benayoun, De Egea has not been troubled. In other semi, there have been a couple of shots on goal from both teams but the score remains tied at 0.

5:00 – Gerrard being given space as he charges across the half way line but his pass is too strong for Babel. Gerrard has been coming into form which is good for England.

2:00 – 2 minutes in and 2 poorly taken corners for Liverpool. At least they’re attacking!

TWEET and Liverpool immediately attack as Benayoun forces a save out of 19 year old De Egea

Apparently Mascherano is playing RB, Johnson is at LB which means Aquilani probably will be playing as defensive midfielder with Lucas. Square pegs in round holes…Rafa, will you ever learn?

Babel - leading the line for Liverpool in today's game. Hopefully his footie talents are as good as his hip hop rhymes.

Even though its Europe’s red headed step child, the Europa Cup is still a worthy cup to win. It’s silverware, decent competition and provides for the most part, entertaining football. Liverpool might pretend its not that important but trust me, if they win it or get knocked they will be elated/deeply disappointed. That’s why I always was surprised when I believe Villa sent out a weakened team in a UEFA cup match a couple of years to ago so that they could concentrate on getting fourth place (which they didn’t even come close to getting).

Good afternoon all,

This week Gol TV is showing the Liverpool versus Atletico match at Anfield and Fulham v. Hamburg will be taking the back burner and is to be shown at 8pm. Liverpool down 1-0 but playing at home are showing their full intent in making the finals by including Ryan Babel up front as well as Aquilani somewhere in the attacking midfield. Benayoun, Kuyt and Gerrard are also playing which suggests Benitez is foregoing his cautious defensive approach and is intent on attacking. Atletico side seems to be the same as the one that won 1-0 at the Calderon last week.

In the other semi at Craven Cottage, Fulham and Hamburg SV are goalless after the first leg. American Clint Dempsey is once again on the bench but look for him to make an appearance around the 60 minute mark. Here’s to hoping that these semis are not only more entertaining that last weeks but not as much of a disappointment as the Champions leagues return legs.

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59 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 12:04 PM

    What the! why is Duece not starting?!?

    Reply

    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/29 at 12:06 PM

      Not sure but maybe he is not up for 90 just yet. I bet Fulham will go all out attack, so having him come on with 30 minutes left might be a better tactic

      Reply

  2. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 12:07 PM

    Maybe! Lets GO Fulham

    Reply

  3. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 12:07 PM

    Wow Zomora should have put that one in the net

    Reply

  4. Can we have no mentions of the Fulham match? It’s on at 8PM here in the states and I don’t want it served cold!

    Reply

  5. “Gerrard being given space as he charges across the half way line but his pass is too strong for Babel. Gerrard has been coming into form which is good for England.”

    Sounds like he’s right back to the good old days of pinging passes out into touch!

    Reply

    • Guardian MBM:
      65 min: Gerrard sends a raking cross-field ball from the right touchline to Babel on the left. Do you really me need me to tell you it resulted in an Atletico throw-in? And a new football for some lucky kid walking past the stadium.

      Reply

      • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/29 at 1:47 PM

        nope…it was a nice pass. I would blame Babel more than Gerrard on this one. His Row Z passes seem to be a thing of yore

        Reply

  6. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 12:38 PM

    K so i promise not to post anything else about the fulham game

    Reply

    • No worries, realized that trying to watch the match might be detrimental to marital bliss so I actually broke down about as fast as Fulham’s defense and I’m following the Guardian’s minute-by-minute so please feel free to comment on the match. I will stop holding TSG hostage.

      Is Glenn Johnson really playing left back?

      Reply

  7. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:13 PM

    Now Zamora limping. Where’s Dempsey?

    Reply

  8. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 1:17 PM

    Not warming up yet! Zamora is pulling up early on his runs.

    Reply

  9. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:18 PM

    Here we go! Deuce is up.

    Reply

  10. Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 1:19 PM

    58′ – Deuce is on!!

    Reply

  11. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 1:27 PM

    Eh if you want to watch the match go with Atdhe.net

    Reply

  12. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 1:32 PM

    Simon Davies WHAT A GOAL!!!

    Reply

  13. Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 1:32 PM

    Davies goal for Fulham!

    Reply

  14. Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 1:37 PM

    GOAL #2 FULHAM!

    Reply

  15. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:37 PM

    YESSSS!!!

    Reply

  16. Oh shit, I’m watching this game when I get home, even if it is grounds for divorce and will be served cold.

    Reply

  17. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:52 PM

    Come on Fulham!

    Reply

  18. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:53 PM

    Horseyface pushes it wide!!

    Reply

  19. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 1:54 PM

    Come on Fulham!

    Reply

  20. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 1:54 PM

    WHAT! Dempsey pulled down by the keeper! Just a yellow!??!?

    Reply

  21. Hamburg kill some time by putting a substitute on in the 90th minute even though they need a goal.

    Chaos in Fulham’s penalty area as 3 players try to win the same ball!

    How is the goalkeeper taking out Dempsey when he’s rounding him not a red card?

    Reply

  22. Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 1:55 PM

    FULHAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  23. WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY FOR FULHAM!

    And as Shaun predicted, Liverpool are playing for penalties.

    Reply

  24. Dempsey will become the first American to play in a European final!

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 2:16 PM

      That’s assuming he plays!

      Seriously, fantastic result for Fulham. What a fairytale.

      I wonder what the stats guy would say about Fulham punching above their weight.

      Reply

  25. Posted by uncledude on 2010/04/29 at 2:00 PM

    wow. what a nervy last few minutes there. “tidal wave on the thames!” LOL

    Reply

  26. Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 2:04 PM

    Benayoun!

    Reply

    • Posted by itally on 2010/04/29 at 2:12 PM

      Oh no… Forlan

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 2:18 PM

        Away goal doesn’t count in ET, right?

        Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/29 at 2:19 PM

          yes it does

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 2:37 PM

          Really – that cannot be right or fair?! How sure are you on this?

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/29 at 2:40 PM

          Well i guess its in there to even it out since the home team has the advantage playing the second game at home. I think it sucks and always have but its not an excuse.

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 2:40 PM

        Wow. I am wrong. I honestly thought that the away goal rule would not count in extra time… I thought it would go to penalties…

        Reply

        • Posted by Sinn Fein on 2010/04/29 at 3:49 PM

          I was thinking about this myself. It seems totally unfair. It also seems to encourage anti-football from the home team during extra time, which is the tendency anyway.

          Of course, it is hard to get too upset siding for Liverpool here as it is not like they deserved to win the tie.

          Reply

  27. From the Guardian’s commentary

    “90 mins: Three more minutes. Hamburg are just launching long balls into the box now, and that’s free beer for Fulham.”

    Hamburg have joined the Free Beer Movement.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/29 at 2:23 PM

      That’s stupdendous- Hamburgers and beer make me….FULHAM!
      No more root canals scheduled for next week folks…you’ll have to do without my humor….

      Reply

  28. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/29 at 2:21 PM

    Shaun — great job on the commentary — can’t watch the game and this has been phenomenal.

    Reply

  29. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/29 at 2:32 PM

    Sending an ambulance to Shaun’s house right now…let’s hope for TSG’s sake he is okay.

    Reply

  30. Posted by pino on 2010/04/29 at 4:35 PM

    Two finals in a year for the deuce. coincidence? I think not.!

    Reply

  31. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/30 at 3:49 AM

    Hodgson for Prime Minisister!!!

    Reply

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