Late Kuyt Goal Secures Liverpool Progression
He's well chuffed!...
A slightly different starting eleven fielded by Dalglish for the home tie against Sparta Prague meant Danny Wilson, Daniel Agger and Sotirios Kyrgiakos were included in defense. Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher did not feature and with captain Steven Gerrard still out Pepe Reina was named as captain.
A start which showed similarities to the dismal display in Prague meant that Liverpool were creating slow build up in attack. Still without Suarez and awaiting the start of Carroll the Reds were suffering slightly. However Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles were good sources and their efforts throughout the 90minutes were superb.
Martin Kelly was impressive once again for Liverpool, dedicated to the cause and some brilliant whipped in crosses meant that a watching Fabio Capello would surely have been pleased.
Speaking about being dedicated to the cause, what a man Kyrgiakos is. He was bashed in the mouth and bleeding so had to be treated for that. Clattered in the throat by a fast paced ball after a Sparta Prague free kick and then slashed above the eye which ended up with him re-appearing with a dashing red bandage wrapped round his glorious locks.
I think we take Soto for granted sometimes, for the bargain buy of Rafa at £1.5mil and a player that never complains if he starts or is on the bench, always does what is asked of him, i think he needs the credit. Not only is he up there with the best in terms of aerial battles but he's also very capable of grabbing you a goal as he nearly did last night with a very close header. What a legend the big Greek is!
Another trier on the pitch was Joe Cole, it was clear his full fitness was still a few matches away but fair play for his efforts. He gave his all and was unlucky on several occasions.
For Sparta Prague again I'd say Pamic was the main threat for us, a midfield of Poulsen and Lucas meant that although passing and playing the ball was easy for us, i felt the interception within the central areas was low. Pamic and youngster Kadlec found it quite easy to navigate through midfield but with our defence staying strong it was only a rare Pepe Reina mistake that really caused any problems for us.
Liverpool's winner didn't come until the 85minute mark. A lovely corner from Raul Meireles was met by the head of Dirk Kuyt who sent the ball home from a close range. His celebration said it all as the fans cheered with relief.
Nobody ideally wanted extra time and penalties so to score so late on was dramatic but welcomed!
Liverpool now have to face Braga in the round of 16. With the first leg at Anfield (not sure why as the list on Europa League website says we're away first but then that annoying little asterisk * and text below says *match reversed) means we will need a solid result to head over to Portugal with.