One of the worst seasons in Liverpool’s history off the field has now ended in pretty awful circumstances on it.
Liverpool’s last two league games make no difference to their position, which is stuck in fourth place as the team not quite up there with the top three, pretty much how it’s been for too long now.
One way or another the ownership situation needs to be resolved and Liverpool need to stop being in the headlines because of stupid spats and spin.
Liverpool went into this game knowing one goal from them would give them the confidence and sap Chelsea’s. Chelsea scored first in a first half that they’d dominated. But when Liverpool took over the second half and got an equaliser it looked like Liverpool could do it, could get a second goal and get through.
But it was Liverpool’s stuffing that got knocked out of them. Extra time came along and a Chelsea goal was disallowed, fairly, for offside. But seconds later Chelsea were in front. Hyypia brought down Ballack in the box, and with Frank Lampard on the field there weren’t going to be arguments between the German and Didier Drogba over who was going to take it. Lampard, still mourning his mother’s death sent Reina the wrong way.
Hyypia himself should have got a penalty. Replays showed him clearly brought down in the box, with the referee raising the whistle to mouth as if to award the penalty, before fulfilling Rafa’s prophecy about him being something of a homer.
When Drogba got his second it was all over. 3-1 on the night, 4-2 on aggregate, Liverpool couldn’t come back.
Ryan Babel’s goal three-and-a-half minutes from time raised faint hopes – at 4-3 a single goal from Liverpool would see them through – but Fernando Torres, scorer of Liverpool’s first, top scorer at the club in his first season, was on the bench.
The five minutes of stoppage time in the first game had ended with an own goal from Riise that made this tie have a different complexion to what it would have had, but there was no such length of time to be added onto any of the four halves played tonight.
A lot of fans were worried about trouble in Moscow had Liverpool got through to play there against their bitter rivals Manchester United, but none of those fans actually wanted their team not to get through. To picture “big ears” in the hands of Didier Drogba or Christiano Ronaldo isn’t something that sits easy in the mind in any way shape or form. Chelsea v Barcelona would have been far easier to watch.
Replays showed a player offside for Drogba’s opener, Sami Hyypia should have been given a penalty to make up for the one he gave away, but Liverpool know these things happen, they know they’ve got to find something to make up for nights where the referee and his officials make mistakes.
Bad luck played a part too in other ways. Martin Skrtel put a brilliant tackle in on Didier Drogba early in the game and didn’t recover. He was replaced by Hyypia, who wouldn’t have been on the pitch to give the penalty away otherwise. And using a sub early in the game limited Rafa’s options for tactical changes.
But Rafa’s choices with the options he had seemed strange to say the least.
With two subs left to make, and a need to score, Ryan Babel would have expected to be next on, but instead it was Jermaine Pennant, on for Yossi Benayoun who was one of Liverpool’s brightest players, and the provider of the Fernando Torres goal that finally broke that duck for Rafa’s sides at this ground. Continue reading End of the season, not the end of the world