Liverpool 2 (Gerrard 20, Torres 44)
Blackburn 1 (Andrews (pen) 40)
Fernando Torres – back in the starting line-up and back on the scoresheet. His goal put Liverpool back in front after an Andrews penalty had cancelled out Gerrard’s opener.
Liverpool have missed one or both of Torres and Gerrard for pretty much the whole season – and for much of the season both players were struggling with injury even when they did play. Critics pin most of Liverpool’s struggles this season on the absence of Xabi Alonso yet play down the absence of a fully-fit Gerrard and Torres. This first half shows how important the duo are.
It’s not all about Gerrard and Torres though – Rafa has a lot to thank Pepe Reina for. He’s had to contend with the expected physical tactics (to put it nicely) of any Sam Allardyce side, but has contended well on the whole, despite a lack of interest from the referee. He’s also blocked a couple of decent shots that could have dented Liverpool’s recovering but still fragile confidence.
Jamie Carragher was responsible for the Blackburn penalty. The referee – poor as he is – had to make a decision immediately on whether a prone Carragher had handled the ball deliberately or not, and quickly pointed to the spot. It did look deliberate, and Carra’s initial reaction suggested he knew he’d been caught out. Before half-time a Blackburn penalty shout was completely ignored by the referee – who should have booked the offender for a blatant dive.
Mascherano has done his job on the whole at right-back and has looked a threat going forward, but Liverpool have had to change left-back following another injury to the unfortunate Fabio Aurelio.
El Hadji Diouf had been booed throughout, and not many ex-Liverpool players get that treatment at Anfield. When he tried to take Gerrard out – without a booking – he ensured he’d get the same treatment for the rest of the game.
It’s not “game over” yet, but if Liverpool can build on what they’ve done in the first half, and survive without too many injuries being inflicted by their opponents, the Reds are capable of getting all three points.
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio (22 Insua, 38), 20 Mascherano, 23 Carragher, 8 Gerrard, 15 Benayoun, 17 Rodriguez, 21 Lucas, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 22 Insua, 34 Kelly, 40 Ayala, 4 Aquilani, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog
Blackburn: 1 Robinson, 4 Samba, 5 Givet, 21 Olsson, 27 Salgado (BOOKED), 12 Pedersen, 15 Nzonzi, 17 Andrews, 23 Hoilett, 18 Diouf, 22 Kalinic
Subs: 32 Brown, 39 Chimbonda, 7 Emerton, 8 Dunn, 11 Grella, 9 Roberts, 26 Di Santo
Referee: Alan Wiley