Agger celebrates after scoring Liverpool's only goal...
Benfica put two past Liverpool last night both courtesy of their top goalscorer Oscar Cardozo. Despite an early goal from Daniel Agger, a mixture of fortune in favour of the home side and some questionable refereeing decisions saw the Reds fall to defeat.
Benitez fielded a familiar looking side which saw the reintroduction of Lucas into the midfield. With Torres leading the line, it was a confident feel for kick off.
It took just 9 minutes for Liverpool to get on the score sheet after a set piece allowed us to put one in the Benfica goal. Steven Gerrard with a clever little free kick placed the ball square into the box, Daniel Agger then with a superb flick off the back of his foot saw his risky attempt go straight into the back of the net.
Play continued to be positive for Liverpool as we pushed with the attack on the Benfica defence. Looking relatively comfortable, it appeared we may be able to come back to Anfield with a most favourable result.
By 30 minutes though, the tides had turned. When Ryan Babel and Benfica defender Luisao got themselves into an altercation with each other after Fernando Torres was subject to a poor tackle from the same Benfica player in question, it all spiraled out of control.
Luisao who was booked and rightly so for the tackle was also first to become angered and get in Babel's face. Both players had hands in faces, and it was little more than handbags but for some strange reason, it was only our Dutchman who saw red.
If it's one thing i hate about referring it is the sheer lack of consistency, both players were involved, one who had already committed an offence and from what i could see both were deserved of the same punishment. So leaving one on the pitch with a yellow and giving the other his marching orders for me was unacceptable.
Even with 10 men Liverpool showed great spirit and there was fight still in the performance. Benfica, although they seemed to be creating more chances for themselves were still struggling to fully break through the Liverpool defence.
It wasn't until close to the hour mark that Liverpool's problems began to get worse. After a clumsy tackle from Emiliano Insua, Benfica were rewarded the first of their penalties, not too much to complain about and Cardozo converted.
The second penalty however, almost 20 minutes later was in my eyes pretty harsh. Jamie Carragher who was already sprawled for the block was penalised for what i would describe as ball to hand. The pace on the ball wouldn't have given him to to move his hand out of the way as it was and to be honest it was quite clear it was unintentional.
Cardozo converted again from the penalty spot and that saw Benfica through to their 2-1 win over European giants Liverpool.
Lets put things into perspective though.
- 2 goals that were conceded were both from the penalty spot, no goals were scored in free play meaning the lads must have done something right.
- Considering we had 10 men left on the field for the best part of half an hour before they got their first goal, the lads composed themselves superbly and dealt with Benfica well.
- Daniel Agger's effort means that we have a very important away goal in our pockets.
A match to forget i feel and one not to moan about too much, disappointing yes but lets not add this to our woes. We'll see how they fair in the magical European atmosphere of Anfield.