After The Match 


Manchester C-Liverpool 0-0          14.4. 07                         PL
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Pennant, Mascherano, Alonso, Riise, Gerrard, Kuyt
Subs: Gonzalez (Riise 65), Crouch (Pennant 75),
Zenden (Mascherano 84)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia
Yellow: Alonso (61), Finnan (63)      Barton (68)
Red: None
Referee: U Rennie
Attendance: 45,883
Shots on target: 0-3
Shots off target: 6-8
Blocked shots: 1.0
Possession: 40-60
Fouls conceded: 13-18
Corners: 3-4
Offsides: 5-0
Yellow: 1-2
HEADLINES "I am really disappointed with that performance."
    Rafael Benitez

1704: Taking it easy is just not an option
1404: Dull Reds bore even Benitez
1404: City content with point
1404: Reds held in dreary draw


Taking it easy is just not an option

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

Saturday’s game at the City of Manchester Stadium was so bad, it made Liverpool’s recent trip to Villa Park look a thriller.

I can understand the argument some players may be thinking ahead to the Champions League, but there’s no excuse for it.

Liverpool still have a lot to play for this season.

The players may look at the Premiership table and think they’ve plenty of room for error in the race for the top four, but for some of them there’s an even bigger prize at stake – their Anfield careers.

Going through the motions can never be an option when you’re playing for Liverpool, and Rafa Benitez has shown already that even if you play a blinder in the Champions League final itself, it won’t stop him buying a replacement if he thinks it’s necessary.

A number of Liverpool players should take a long, hard look at what happened in 2005.

They may have thought their heroics in Istanbul had earned another season or two at the club, but Benitez made his judgements based on games against teams such as Crystal Palace, Southampton and Burnley.

Every footballer, no matter how limited their ability, can raise their standards in big matches.

It’s producing consistently and motivating yourself to produce the goods on low key occasions which differentiates world class players from ordinary ones.

If someone blasts in the winning goal from 25 yards in Athens this May, Benitez strikes me as the kind of manager who’ll get the same player in his office a few weeks later and explain he’s selling him because he never showed the same form against Manchester City, Reading or Sheffield United.

That’s how it should be at Liverpool. You can’t turn form on and off like a tap whenever you feel like it.

The Liverpool players should also be looking to impress the new owners.

They’ll know very little about many members of the side and could bring a refreshingly neutral perspective on the quality of players.

With new contracts on the horizon, many members of the squad should be busting a gut to catch their eye.

Again, that’s not just about performing in the big European games, but in the Premiership.

The forthcoming home fixtures against Middlesbrough and Wigan are ideal opportunities for Liverpool to play themselves into contention against Chelsea.

Middlesbrough have nothing to play for, but Wigan are fighting for their lives.

In fact, the last two home games against Wigan and Charlton could be as tricky as any with relegation at stake.

Anyone still thinking fourth spot is a formality could get a rude awakening if Liverpool continue to coast through their last league games.

Dull Reds bore even Benitez

ITV Football

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez felt his team should have shaded a listless 0-0 draw against Manchester City at Eastlands.

Benitez was upset because his team now have two more home games this week, against Middlesbrough and Wigan, in which they need secure the points which could help book third place before a Champions League semi-final the following week against Chelsea.

The Spaniard said: "I am really disappointed with that performance. We should have been able to score when we were on top in the first half and controlling the game.

"But the way we played after the break was poor. Every time they had a long ball, a long throw or a free-kick we seemed to be under pressure.

"I do not think my players had other things on their minds, we had talked beforehand about making sure we were focused for the league games.

"We could have had a penalty at the beginning when Jermaine Pennant was pulled back, but they are saying the ball hit Jamie Carragher on the arm at the end, and that probably cancelled out the incidents."

City content with point

By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports

Steve Wigley felt a draw was a fair result as Manchester City held Liverpool 0-0 at home.

In a game of few chances, City came closest to scoring when DaMarcus Beasley struck the crossbar in the final 20 minutes.

The stalemate stretches City's unbeaten run to five games and first-team coach Wigley was content to accept a point.

"I think a draw was probably a fair result," Wigley told Sky Sports. "We would have loved to have won

"Liverpool were slightly better in the first 20 minutes, but I thought we finished the stronger.

"They are a very good side and we are happy with a point at the end."

Without a Premiership win at The City of Manchester Stadium since New Year's Day, Wigley is now hoping the team can translate their away form to home turf.

He added: "We give them the utmost respect, but we are on a good run ourselves.

"We kept the game tight and we knew the opportunities would come, which they did at the end.

"Five games ago people were saying relegation, but we are five games unbeaten and we have only conceded one goal.

"We scored three at Fulham last week, so if we reverse the away form at home, which it was like before Christmas, we will end the season very well."

Reds held in dreary draw

By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports

Manchester City and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw in a forgettable affair at The City of Manchester Stadium.

DaMarcus Beasley came closest to lifting the tedium when hitting the crossbar in the second half, but a winner was not what either team deserved.

Bordering on the pointless, the first half had nothing which will make it into any highlights package and merely served to recommend free admission to these end-of-season 'contests'.

To suggest the two teams were labouring in the spring sunshine would indicate great effort being dispensed and any signs of sweat glistening on brows would have been a trick of the light.

Liverpool did have a chance in the opening five minutes as Jermaine Pennant got in front of Michael Ball, but was unable to steer his shot past Andreas Isaksson.

Pennant should be praised for staying on his feet after a tug from Ball, but he will still be disappointed with his meet effort.

Sylvain Distin cut out a low John Arne Riise cross before Emile Mpenza headed narrowly wide after stealing in front of his marker.

Xabi Alonso, with a reputation for scoring audacious goals, tried his luck from the halfway line, but such a sensational goal would have been out of keeping with the general mediocrity of the game.

DaMarcus Beasley volleyed off target after Distin kept a City corner alive before Jamie Carragher hit the side-netting after Pennant's poor corner had trickled across the six-yard box.

Liverpool started the second half with a little more tempo with Steven Gerrard, playing in an advanced role, heading off target and then seeing his deflected shot comfortably saved by Isaksson.

Riise showed his penchant for vicious shooting with a skidding low drive from 25 yards whizzing past the post following a relatively bright start to the second period.

Dirk Kuyt turned Pennant's cross over under excellent pressure from Richard Dunne before City were denied by the crossbar 15 minutes from time.

Jose Reina's punch from a corner went as far as Beasley, who cut back inside and curled his shot against the top of the bar.

Ball dribbled a shot wide before City fans roared for a penalty when a long throw-in landed on Carragher's arm.

Three minutes of injury time was a needless addition to the game, which possessed all the fizz of a pre-season friendly.

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Thor Zakariassen ©