Really hope Martin Kelly continues to get game time from Hodgson, we need to support talent coming through the ranks...
A nervy and somewhat scrappy 2-1 win for Liverpool last night, thankfully prevented Hodgson from becoming the first manager to go out of Europe with Liverpool before the end of August. Liverpool will now face Steaua Bucharest, Napoli and Utrecht in the group stages of the Europa League.
Hodgson's side as mentioned in my preview was without Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Maschernao, all for differing reasons but this ultimately meant a very different XI would be fielded. Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Johnson and Kelly made up the back 5. Ngog was up front alone with Poulsen, Lucas, Cole and Kuyt making up the midfield.
Liverpool's starting 5minutes couldn't have been filled with more contrast. 2 minutes in and Kyrgiakos went close with a header from a Fabio Aurelio corner but just another couple of minutes later the Reds found themselves down after a Gutierrez goal.
Possession lost by Dirk Kuyt in midfield meant that the Turks could immediately punish, a great ball through from Colman which appeared to be a cross come shot saw the number 9 connect and slide the ball home past Pepe Reina.
For the entirety of the remainder of the first half it is disappointing to not be able to comment on any real Liverpool sparks or chances. We looked a tired team and with no attacking midfielder present it was no surprise that things weren't going at pace in terms of finding a return goal.
Trabzonspor continued to trouble us but with some admirable performances in defence from Carragher and Kyrgiakos, luckily they were kept quiet.
Second half and Liverpool were still looking like a below par side, Trabzonspor in front of their home crowd were more than up for the challenge and were very lively from kick off right through to the final whistle.
For Liverpool "lively" was not a word that could really be used to describe any ones performance. I must admit though that perhaps some of our best play came down the right flank courtesy of Glen Johnson who was constantly trying to add some of his flair to help create something for his side. Kelly on the other side of defence i also thought put in a lot of hard work, some of it may have gone unnoticed and yes he made a few slip ups but i am more than pleased with how the lad is progressing.
In an attempt to change things Roy Hodgson decided it was time for a substitution. With 20minutes to go Fabio Aurelio was brought off and youngster Daniel Pacheco was brought on to the field. A superb talent and just his presence seemed to ignite a sense of belief. After all, we only needed a goal and nobody really fancied extra time.
Glen Johnson supplied the assist for Liverpool's first goal albeit it ended up being an own goal courtesy of Kacar. To Hodgson's elation though Liverpool had equalised and however it occurred, that was all that mattered.
With a new lease of life Liverpool appeared more comfortable in the dying minutes of this Europa League tie. David Ngog made way for Ryan Babel and just minutes later Liverpool got themselves a second goal.
Originating from a Pacheco shot that was turned back away from goal by the Trabzonspor keeper, Dirk Kuyt was on call to send the ball back home and put Liverpool 2-1 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate.
Liverpool gave Martin Skrtel a few minutes on the pitch before the final whistle was blown and fans, players and manager a like could all just calm down a bit. For the majority of that game it looked like disaster, thankfully endurance and persistence paid off. It wasn't neat but another win on the card for Liverpool will do them the world of good.
Next up for the Reds is West Bromwich Albion. Up my neck of the woods they all hate the baggies round here, i don't necessarily care whether they win lose or draw but this time out i hope Liverpool take advantage of playing weaker opposition and get a decent goal tally under their belts to help their confidence.
West Brom are not a fantastic footballing side, traditional style, we should certainly be able to get a good result at Anfield. If not, then it will be a very worrying yardstick for Liverpool games to come.