Klopp Can't Look As Reds Go Through On Penos
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Liverpool entered the second leg with a 1-0 advantage thanks to a Jordon Ibe goal at the Britannia and for the majority of the first half, despite not playing well, it looked as though the home side were going to make half time without too many issues. The influential Arnautovic though found his team an important goal at the 45 minute mark, he was clearly offside but to be honest a goal was nothing more than Stoke deserved. The Reds had provided little to nothing in terms of attack and it was Stoke who commanded this semi-final now.
A clever tactic from Mark Hughes involved the reintroduction of Peter Crouch to fluster an already faltering Liverpool defence but it was fielding Jonathan Walters up against Alberto Moreno that proved to be the real masterstroke. The Everton fan already has plenty of reasons to annoy any Liverpool player but Moreno well and truly fell for his games and came unstuck because of it, the 32 year old put in a brilliant performance for his side.
Just 12 minutes into the second half and Klopp made the decision to bring on Christian Benteke, a relatively early substitution by the German's standards but the Reds were completely ineffective in front of goal and desperately needed something different. Introducing the Belgian did see a slight improvement in play, particularly in terms of holding the ball up but Liverpool still couldn't find a goal and one goal was all they needed. It's frankly inexcusable to end 90 minutes at home against Stoke with one shot on target but that's exactly what happened.
Extra time was a carbon copy of the previous 90 minutes, relative control from Stoke and a few extremely nervy moments for the Liverpool back line. The Reds now had Joe Allen and also introduced Jordon Ibe into the fray but failed to worry Stoke keeper Jack Butland. Let's face it, Liverpool did not deserve to be in this game, Stoke had a bit of luck with the offside decision but the Reds were lucky to have not conceded at least two more goals. Somehow though, Klopp's boys managed to prevent any further danger from the visitors.
Penalties are horrible to watch no matter who you are playing and it always amazes me how you start to doubt your own players from the spot, any player of any caliber should know how to find the back of the net from that distance but you can never tell how the pressure is going to affect them. Jonathan Walters stepped up first and scored for the Potters who had won the toss and chosen the Anfield Road end for the spot kicks.
First up for Liverpool was Adam Lallana who equalised. When Peter Crouch stepped up I have to admit I had a feeling it may be an effort Mignolet would save, Crouch has been out of practice and sometimes you can just tell when they walk up, Migs saved. This was a massive opportunity for Liverpool, the first point in the whole match where they actually deserved and had made an effort to take victory from the game but Emre Can stepped up and smashed his penalty off the post.
Whelan scored for Stoke and Benteke, cool as a cucumber, equalised. Afellay scored and so did Firmino. Shaqiri netted followed by Milner then van Ginkel scored meaning Lucas had to, he did.
Is there anything worse?
For Stoke, Marc Muniesa approached the spot. My Dad has always told me to watch a player walking up for a penalty closely, ever since I was a little girl he's always sworn that he can tell if they are going to miss, of course most of the time it's absolute crap, you know what Dad's are like but on Tuesday night Dad saw something... "You watch, he'll save this."
There was something about Muniesa, he didn't look confident and sure as anything Simon Mignolet pulled off a brilliant save! All we had to do was score, after 120 minutes of failing to do just that, all Joe Allen had to do was score.
Some players stepped up for our penos and I won't lie, I didn't have faith but I felt confident with Joe Allen, coined as the Welsh Pirlo, he certainly netted in a fashion the Italian legend would be proud of and Liverpool had sealed their place in the final at Wembley!
Undeserving? Perhaps, but I can't sit here and pretend I care, the Reds are through and Manchester City or Everton await.