Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Carling Cup Quarter Final – December 19th 2007 – Result

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

A strong Chelsea side managed to overcome Liverpool in the Carling Cup tonight in a game that probably drew more headlines for the officials than the players.

It started with a linesman having to limp off, replaced by the fourth official who had almost not even made it to the game. The referee himself seemed unable to bring himself to blow for fouls from Chelsea, whose players didn’t receive a single card. That was a contrast to the referee’s treatment of Liverpool’s players, with him booking three for innocuous challenges.

There was also a red card, for Peter Crouch, who seemed to lose his head in an incident following on from where he received a massive amount of persistent kicking.

Rafa had chosen what was pretty-much a second-choice team, in what was generally a 4-5-1 formation. Andriy Voronin seemed once again to be out of position on the right-hand side.

Chelsea’s team meanwhile was strong – even first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech was a starter, and he did manage to stop the Reds from scoring when they actually managed a shot on goal.

Chelsea had managed couple of shots on goal but reserve keeper Charles Itandje was equal to them – until Lampard pulled one of his goals out from his repertoire. Yes, Lampard scored with a deflection. Crouch was sent off a minute later and so Liverpool’s chance to get anything back was gone, and it was no surprise that a stretched Liverpool side let Shevchenko score a goal in the last minute.

Before the game there was more tirmoil at Anfield, with Liverpool’s pre-match press conference not taking place. The club were said to be concerned that their shackles on Rafa would be questioned at the conference, and that would not fit in with their policy of covering up the truth at every opportunity. The only pre-match quotes from the manager were through the official site, where we’ve already seen examples this week of quotes being changed to suit the owners’ and Parry’s agendas.

How much this turmoil is playing a part in the problems for the boss is hard to say – but it’s certainly not helping. It’s the least important of all the competitions Liverpool play in, hence the experimental side, but it still hurts supporters to see the side go out.

With the owner’s intent – still – on sacking Rafa before the start of next season, regardless of performance, it’s only the start of what looks like being a lot of hurt for Liverpool supporters in the coming months and years.

Rafa was allowed to speak a little after the game – about the game, saying: “I am disappointed my team has lost but we played really well with 11 men. We passed the ball well and created good chances but they had a very good goalkeeper. When Crouch was sent off it made it very difficult for us.”

On the red card, the manager said: “If you watch the replay, twice Jon Obi Mikel tried to foul Crouch. If the referee had blown his whistle before there wouldn’t have been a sending off. Sometimes referees need to be quicker. I have seen more dangerous tackles in the last month. There were two bad tackles from Mikel before, that’s why Crouch lost his head.”

Chelsea: Cech, Bridge, Carvalho, Belletti, Ben-Haim, Essien, Obi (Ballack 68), Lampard, Kalou, Shevchenko (Sidwell 90), Sinclair (Joe Cole 57).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ferreira.
Booked: None
Goals: Lampard 59, Shevchenko 90.

Liverpool: Itandje, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hobbs, Aurelio, Sissoko, Lucas, Alonso (El Zhar 60), Voronin, Crouch, Babel (Benayoun 73).
Subs Not Used: Martin, Hyypia, Riise.
Booked: Alonso 27, Lucas 42, Sissoko 86.
Sent Off: Crouch 60.

Stats: (Liverpool – Chelsea)
Possession: 57% – 43%
Shots on target: 9 – 2
Shots off target: 8 – 11
Corners: 9 – 0
Fouls: 7 – 17

Attendance: 41,366

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).