A frustrated Dirk Kuyt portrays everyone's emotions...
One goal separated the two sides last night at the Vicente Calderon, scored within 9minutes in rather bizarre and scrappy circumstances, it was enough to see Atletico Madrid take glory in the first leg of our Europa League Semi Final.
Benitez reintroduced Mascherano and dropped Maxi Rodriguez for this fixture due to him being ineligible for the competition. The remainder of the XI was the same fielded against West Ham.
It wasn't long before Liverpool's defence was undone. With barely any chance to settle down Atletico punished with a fast paced attack originating from their own half.
Frustratingly, Forlan was unmarked, the player who i was so certain we should be able to deal with was allowed too much space. When the cross came in, a diving Kyrgiakos could not connect, Agger was too far away from the action and Carragher was still checking back after he was pulled out of position.
When Forlan made contact though, something suspicious appeared to happen, when he connected with the ball his dodgy header seemed to take a deflection off of another part of his body. My first thought was handball, as was the thinking of many other Liverpool fans, but from the angles available, it is hard to distinguish.
Forlan eventually followed up and despite Reina getting some sort of block on it, Atletico took the lead.
We can't moan too much obviously because the defending was below par but i think we had a case judging by the direction the ball travelled AFTER Forlan made the header. Just goes to show again with these two extra officials, they still can't work properly.
I'm afraid this post will again pull back to the poor refereeing when i get to the Benayoun goal which should have stood.
Reyes, the ex Arsenal employee was doing his best to frustrate Liverpool too, with some skillful runs and confident play, the Reds were struggling to deal with him. What became annoying though was his ease in which he fell to ground, but then again, he did that at Arsenal too.
So with the clock reading roughly 20minutes it looked like Liverpool were on for an equalizer. When Kuyt picked up the ball on the edge of the Atletico 6 yard box it appeared he was going for a shot, when his attempt was scuffed though an aware Yossi Benayoun made his run, and with a great finish should have seen his efforts put Liverpool onto the scoreboard.
This however was not to be. Despite the fact that the Israeli was clearly onside when the ball was played, its just yet another case of these pathetic extra officials NOT doing their jobs, not forgetting of course the linesmen and the referee.
Usually i don't like to moan but this time out i feel hard done by.
For Liverpool, this was the only positive in front of goal. With no shots on target it was a pretty dismal display from the boys who were lacking the influential Fernando Torres. For me too it became more apparent of the aspects that Maxi if he was able to feature could have added, similar to Kuyt but perhaps with more accuracy, he could have supplied a lot of killer passes and pin point crosses.
Players like David N'Gog who in some games rely on being fed would have benefited greatly i feel from somebody like Maxi.
Benayoun and Babel are great wing players but they are (not a bad thing always) quite selfish, due to their style of play and perhaps confidence of taking people on, they don't always see that key pass or deadly ball through, this i feel is where Maxi comes in.
In Liverpool's fairness, despite Atletico being the better team, aside from the sloppy goal early on in the game, the lads dealt with the rest of the Spaniard's attempts at undoing the defence.
Pepe Reina also was called to duty on a few occasions. Notably when a close range shot saw him make a magnificent reaction save, as most of the watchers described, simply world-class.
He continues to shine whilst others around him falter, and believe it or not, Pepe Reina is literally the only positive we can really take from that game.
Of course, lets not forget though, 1-0 down into the second leg by no means at all spells the end of the road for Liverpool. It is still very much in our own hands.
In some ways, it just makes the tie more exciting and more meaningful.
Anfield will be buzzing and even without our star man, you just have to fancy us as favourites to go through. I for one am not ready for a shock and would love to be able to watch us play in the final in Hamburg, even if it does mean playing Fulham...