Lovren Misses Peno As Reds Are Knocked Out
It was a long old game for Liverpool on Thursday evening as they traipsed through 120 minutes of football only to crash out of the Europa League with the final kick of the game as Dejan Lovren failed to convert the Reds' all important fifth penalty.
It was a frustrating game to say the least and so this match report may not follow a usually strategic structure.
The first thing to note about the game, apart from the deafening noise from the Besiktas fans was the extremely attacking line up deployed by Brendan Rodgers. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, as a big fan of Balotelli and somebody who would like to see him be given a real chance in a front two, I was very pleased to see him paired with Sturridge. Not only this but Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling were also starting.
The issue though was that there were key names missing from midfield that I would prefer to see in a line up with those previously mentioned attacking players. As the match went on it became more and more apparent that we were missing some balance and would have benefitted from Jordan Henderson and/or Lucas Leiva in that line up in my opnion.
However, Liverpool had injuries and this also had an effect on the defensive set up with Dejan Lovren gaining a start whilst Kolo Toure took the place of Emre Can who moved into midfield.
The game was very dire to watch. I hate using the term "scrappy" to describe football matches but that's exactly what it was. Tackles were flying in all over the place and Liverpool were struggling to maintain possession in midfield.
Mario Balotelli had perhaps the best performance of the first half. Yes he got booked for a bit of a silly challenge but he showed discipline and did not draw any real attention from the referee again. For those who continue to protest that he doesn't "try" or "move" as an excuse to justify their dislike of him, they must have been searching for another reason last night because most would agree that Balotelli was the only one creating anything.
A few of his balls through to the likes of Sterling and Sturridge could have almost caused havoc if only the latter two had passed the ball or struck first time.
Of course though, this is Mario Balotelli, we can't possibly allow him to play 90 minutes of football or let him start to gain pride in his performance, oh no. Brendan Rodgers was inevitably going to sub perhaps our best player off but the fact that he didn't even acknowledge Balotelli when he left the field? It's just embarrassing.
So, on went the second half with little to nothing to write home about for Liverpool, instead Besiktas grew and grew in confidence and at 71 minutes the Turkish side had found the back of the net. It was a stunning strike from substitute Tolgay Arslan and the home side deserved to be in the lead.
It looked like a massive hill to climb for Liverpool from here and out and it sure was. Extra time despite some fresh legs on the pitch meant little to the Reds who had ran out of ideas very early on.
And so we went to penalties. I can't be bothered to analyse the first eight because thankfully they were all very good spot kicks. Tolgay Arslan scored Besiktas' fifth and the ninth of the evening but then the real craziness started.
It's the deciding penalty so who steps up? Dejan Lovren.
Now I'm not Lovren's biggest fan by any means, I didn't even really want to sign him, I just think he's an average defender, however he has taken the decision to step up for the peno. The real problem here is why has he gone up for the fifth spot kick. Whatever the outcome is, it's pathetic either way in my opinion.
Either, Brendan Rodgers has chosen him as fifth penalty taker which is just ridiculous OR Raheem Sterling has bottled it or another player "didn't fancy it" and so he's took the decision as a team player to go for it.
Dejan of course skied his penalty and to be honest he should have done better but he musn't feel too down because if we didn't play such a load of shite for 120 minutes we wouldn't have been in that position.
The sooner we forget about that game the better in my opinion and thankfully we have Manchester City on Sunday, the excitement for that should help us forget about a disappointing night at the Ataturk.