Complacent Reds Fight Back In Extra Time To Win 4-2

Liverpool found themselves on the ropes on Tuesday evening after a solid first half performance quickly deteriorated when Notts County found themselves two goals to level the game up in the second half. Two excellent goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge in the first 45 minutes looked to have already bagged a confident Liverpool side the win but with complacency setting in Notts County were rewarded for their hunger and pushed the tie to extra time. With 3 injuries for Liverpool and all their subs used, after Kolo Toure went down the Reds were left with 9 men, thankfully though another goal from the brilliant Sturridge and an awesome solo goal from Jordan Henderson ensured Liverpool would progress to the next round.

Image: straitstimes.com
With Manchester United to face on Sunday many fans were surprised by the strength of the team fielded by Brendan Rodgers, I found it admirable that the boss was taking this competition seriously but I was also assuming that the likes of Sturridge and Gerrard would leave the field at some stage, this didn't happen though. I was in such a dream world last night that I even tweeted before extra time suggesting we take them off now, completely forgetting that we'd already used our 3 substitutions! At times this game really was a nightmare but then it goes to show that the League Cup isn't always a snorefest as some would suggest.

A total of 28 shots from Liverpool indicated that they should have comfortably had the tie wrapped up early on but the woodwork was hit on several occasions and chances were sometimes wasted.

It didn't take long at all for the home side to get the scoring underway when Raheem Sterling took on the County defence with real confidence. His finish was also enviable and it was brilliant to see Sterling back in the starting line up.

Shortly after the goal for Liverpool, things began to take a turn for the worse when new signing Aly Cissokho appeared to twist his ankle. He tried his best to stay on the field but the injury was too painful and so he was replaced by Daniel Agger. Despite the early forced substitution Liverpool still kept their momentum.

For the remainder of the first half the Reds retained the majority of possession, creating chances but failing to convert (Agger heading against the woodwork was a notable point) until Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net with another fantastic goal. A perfect ball through from captain Steven Gerrard allowed Sturridge to comfortably finish with a powerful strike, his signature dance followed and had nearly everyone in Anfield smiling as the Reds looked as though they were going to turn this into a rout.

The second half would prove very different for the home side though and it was Notts County who were first on the score sheet this time. A free kick from Mark Fotheringham found its way on to the head of Manny Smith who headed across goal to find the head of Yoann Arquin who rose well to put the ball past a slightly delayed hand of Simon Mignolet.

It was quite evident that if County did manage to find a goal then they would relish the excitement. It's perhaps a bit cliche to say but the smaller teams in this competition will always have that underlying hunger and so to have scored at Anfield with 30 minutes of full time left it was clear Notts County were now going to capitalise on this situation as much as they could.

Shortly after the goal another injury for Liverpool meant that Joe Allen had to be replaced with Jordan Henderson entering play. At this point most fans were still assuming the last substitution would see Sturridge leave the field in preparation for Sunday's clash with Manchester United but this wasn't the case. Luis Alberto was the last change, he was replaced with Coutinho at just after 70 minutes.

As the second half went on Liverpool had lost nearly all of their hold on the game, Notts County had increased their possession stats and in turn increased their confidence, they certainly felt as though they could find an equaliser whilst at this stage the Reds seemed happy to try and keep hold of the 2-1 lead and get this game done with. With 7 minutes left to go though Notts County had their efforts rewarded. A well worked lead up to the goal saw a cross reach Adam Coombes who struck past Andre Wisdom and Simon Mignolet to level the game. The Reds now had extra time to contend with if they couldn't find a late, late winner.

Efforts from Sturridge, Agger and Gerrard were not destined to change the scoreline and so Liverpool were now faced with another 30 minutes of football, with a practically full strength side and with Manchester United looming in their heads for Sunday.

Let's face it, this wasn't an ideal situation but you can't fault the game, it was exciting and it was refreshing to see. Liverpool once again I must note were very tenacious, they were a team, just as they should be and one positive that has been evident throughout all Liverpool's fixtures so far this season is their togetherness and determination to get things done. For me, at this moment in time, I couldn't give a toss how we go about doing it, as long as we get the result, and we did.

Shortly into extra time cult hero Kolo Toure was taken off the field on a stretcher after sustaining a groin injury. I really like Toure and it was gutting to see this happen I just hope both himself and Allen and Cissokho can return to fitness quickly though it looks quite bad for Kolo.

With 10 men left and the majority of extra time left the task had become even harder for Liverpool but they never gave up and eventually that man Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net once again. Sturridge put enough power on his diagonal strike to force the County goalkeeper into a mistake, the ball should have been stopped but instead it was allowed to trickle into the net. Liverpool had now regained the lead and surely they wouldn't let this slide?

To further stamp their authority and prove their Premier League class the Reds finished off the night with a cracking solo goal from Jordan Henderson. I've said many times on the blog that Jordan has bags and bags of potential but I wish he wouldn't hesitate as much and stick to his original decisions, well he didn't soddin' hesitate last night did he?!

After picking up the ball from Ibe in midfield Jordan ran directly at the encroaching County back line, with a sublime little slip of the ball through the defender's legs he then reconnected slotting the ball round the keeper and into the back of the net, all in the blink of an eye. Bloody brilliant!

Liverpool had now cemented their place in the next round. It may have been untidy but it was a win and that's all that matters. Both sides also had penalty claims to contend with which I failed to mention (busy game) but the referee was having none of it from either side though I feel both had cases.

Liverpool have their name in the hat but will it be detrimental to their flowing league start? I personally take the attitude that to be a truly great team you have to be ready for every eventuality and I would usually stand by this notion but with such a thin squad I do feel that we could have coped yesterday with a few more changes but then I'm no Premier League manager am I? (Thank god!) I honestly think though that on Sunday we should be fine, nothing has really changed, keep Van Persie quiet and take the game to them, it's at Anfield, the 12th man is well and truly behind us and we can take them. As for the probably missing Kolo Toure I don't have any fears, Skrtel for me is still a top class defender, he may have had a few mares at the end of last season but he knows what he's doing and he's experienced against Manchester United.

Get your money on a Sturridge scorecast, that's all I'm saying!

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