Wonder Strike Leads The Way For Reds Romanian Victory
Mascherano nets Liverpool's first goal...
Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard all found the back of the net yesterday evening in Bucharest, after going down 1-0 to the home side when Fernandes scored in the first half, Liverpool managed to complete a very successful turn around.
A strong team was fielded by Rafa, although Torres was left out, perhaps for precautionary reasons. Benayoun however did start along with Ryan Babel on the other wing. Kuyt had been left on the bench and Kyrgiakos was not opted to start.
Up until the Urziceni goal Liverpool were looking rather ineffective, the Romanians were pushing forward, gaining corners and free kicks and looking quite dangerous whereas our only moment of credit was a Steven Gerrard drive which was saved by second fiddle Lithuanian goalkeeper - Arlauskis.
The goal came from a corner for the Romanians, a leaping and in space Fernandes sent the ball past Reina leaving the defence bemused.
There was nobody anywhere near Fernandes, it does sometimes bear the question "why not?" but i think it is safe to say that again, at the moment, this sort of thing does not matter, we can constantly nit pick problems and mistakes from our performances but providing those results keep coming our way then for the time being, nothing else matters.
Up until our equalizer, we still hadn't really shown much improvement, and even the goal set up was in an almost lucky fashion.
When Jamie Carragher crossed in the ball, a bumbling Unirea defence were struggling to deal with the threat, after one of the white shirted players attempted to boot the ball clear, he ended up teeing up Javier Mascherano. Often one to fancy an outside the box smash, Masch hit his shot with immense power, the perfectly targeted attempt flew past Arlauskis and literally 'smashed' the back of the net. By far one of the best goals of the season for Liverpool.
What was great to see too was the sheer passion from Mascherano after he had buried it, his first reaction was to run in the fans direction, fists pumped high in the air, then he followed up with a badge kiss and congratulations from team mates Benayoun and N'Gog.
Masch seems like a player who is extremely happy, all this nonsense about him going to Barca seems more distant everyday, you won't top his reaction too when asked by a journalist about his Man City link, he basically replied "You can't buy history."
Top player. Top bloke.
With this goal it was Liverpool who were set to go through to the last 16. Obviously though, this was far from a comfortable position.
Our next goal came 5 minutes before half time. Steven Gerrard whipped a free kick into the danger zone, as Martin Skrtel was set to have a pop, Ryan Babel with a clever little move decided to control the ball, bringing it back into a more favourable direction and then swept the ball home.
Again Ryan Babel still raises questions and again as i have said before, i will take nothing away from that goal, it was a great piece of football but i do not see enough really in his whole game. This is why i continue to favour others over himself as match starters, i totally agree with the mind set that a lot of other people have, he is an "impact player".
Our third and final goal which saw us seal the deal came from our captain Steven Gerrard. After Benayoun made a rather untidy but great run into the Unirea box his pass set up Steven who took his chance and sent the effort straight through the goalkeeper's legs and into the back of the net.
It was great to see the skipper scoring again. A goal is always great for confidence, whether it is against Unirea or Chelsea, fact is it gives you a great boost.
So with the game effectively won, the only other real moment of note was the injury to Martin Skrtel. Now we all know Skrtel is a big man, a scary one at that (does anyone else think he reminds them of Lurch from the Addams Family? ... "You raaaaaaaaaaang?") and i was struggling to recall a time when i had ever seen him go down in such pain, so even when the replay didn't look so bad it was clear that he was injured.
There is just no way Skrtel would have gone down in agony for no reason and today we know that he has in fact broken his toe. Our official club website are reporting it as "suspected" broken toe, but it is probably safe to say that this is what Skrtel has suffered.
Kelly, Kyrgiakos and Aurelio all made substitution appearances in the dying minutes. It was great to see Kelly back after his injury struggle, he was very impressive in the Champions League games that he featured in and i shall look forward to seeing him in the side again.
So after all of this Liverpool will in fact face Lille for their next tie, despite the idiots on channel five consistently saying that we would be facing Fenerbahce, now i know people can forget but when you get past saying it 3 times and you're still wrong, it becomes a bit pathetic.
From the two teams though, i think it is quite safe to say that given the choice most people would have opted for Lille.
To end with, it is worth pointing out that Steven Gerrard's goal has taken him past Alan Shearer as the British player with the highest European goals tally for an English club.
Long may his European goals continue...