Rafa rues missed chances
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is annoyed that his side
squandered chances to win the game at Birmingham.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead at St Andrews but an own goal
from Stephen Warnock and error by Pep Reine enabled
Walter Pandiani to bounce for Blues.
Djibril Cisse did bag a point for the visitors with a
penalty after Neil Kilkenny saw red for handling on the
line, but Liverpool still had chances to win the match.
With Peter Crouch, Steven Gerrard and Cisse all going
close, along with Jamie Clapham clearing twice off the
line, Benitez was a frustrated man after the game.
"We had good chances to win the game and in the end it
is two points lost for us," said Benitez.
"In the first half we controlled the game. We created
some opportunities and went ahead.
"We lost the advantage in the space of five minutes but
after the penalty we had two or three real good chances.
"To draw away from home is not the best result but it is
not the worst. Last season we conceded a lot of goals
away from home and this year the team is more
"We need to improve small details but then you always
think that. We are certainly creating more chances than
Benitez's side have now drawn three out of four games
this season and, despite being unbeaten, are way behind
champions Chelsea who have won every game.
"I prefer to talk about if we are improving or not,"
"For me the team is better than last season. We can beat
anyone and score goals and we don't give the opposition
a lot of chances."
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce was fuming at referee
Steve Bennett after their draw with Liverpool.
Bruce was unhappy that Bennett awarded a free kick for a
Julian Gray foul on Steven Gerrard in the second half,
which led to a corner.
The corner then led to Neil Kilkenny handling the ball
on the line and being sent off as well as giving The
Reds a penalty to make it 2-2.
"I don't think at half-time anyone would have predicted
the game ending up like that. It was a smashing game in
the second half," said Bruce.
"After the start we have had with three home defeats,
the boys showed some character when 1-0 down.
"It could have been quite easy to feel sorry for
ourselves but we got into a position where we could have
actually won the game.
"The free-kick against Gray was a joke decision. Steven
Gerrard fell over.
"Even Steven was embarrassed because it was a bad
decision and it cost us.
"The handball was a natural reaction. He will certainly
remember his debut! He did well against one of the best
midfield players in the world in Gerrard who was very
"When you are 1-0 down you are normally delighted to
take a point but we were disappointed because of that
bad decision by the linesman. We feel harshly treated."
not good enough
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was "bitterly
disappointed" after his side were forced to settle for a
2-2 draw with Birmingham at St Andrews.
The Reds remain unbeaten and moved into the top half of
the Premiership table - but the England midfielder
expected more from the match after they took a
second-half lead through Luis Garcia.
"It was a good game to watch if you're a neutral but
we're going away bitterly disappointed," said Gerrard.
"We were doing okay in the first half without creating
too many chances and created a lot more in the second
half and I thought we deserved three points.
"Luis Garcia is a clever player, he makes good runs as
you can see from his goal. Taking the lead was the hard
part and to concede after that was a mistake, it's not
Blues levelled when Stephen Warnock deflected a cross
from the right into his own goal in the 72nd minute.
Three minutes later City went ahead when Jose Reina
failed to hold Emile Heskey's header and sub Walter
Pandiani turned in the rebound.
However, the European champions equalised when Jamie
Carragher's header hit the underside of the crossbar,
struck the heel of Maik Taylor and was blocked on the
line by the hand of debutant Neil Kilkenny.
He was rightly sent off by Steve Bennett and sub Djibril
Cisse made it 2-2 from the penalty spot. Peter Crouch
then went close as he stretched to head a Cisse cross
from the right.
Gerrard joked: "Peter needed to be a couple of inches
bigger, he's not big enough.
"We're happy to still be unbeaten and we feel as if
we've improved a lot, but we need to start taking three
points instead of one."
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool and Birmingham played out an entertaining
2-2 draw at St Andrews on Saturday.
After a dull first half, substitute Luis Garcia put The
Reds ahead on 68 minutes, before two errors from Rafa
Benitez's side saw them 2-1 down.
Stephen Warnock firstly headed into his own net just
four minutes after going in front, and then Pepe Reina's
bad mistake in spilling Emile Heskey's header allowed
Walter Pandiani to prod home from close range.
However, the final period of the game saw Neil Kilkenny
sent off for handball on the line allowing Djibril Cisse
to level from the penalty spot, and Liverpool had two
headers cleared off the line as they searched for a
Liverpool had an early chance inside two minutes when a
long ball to Peter Crouch was knocked down the lanky
strike to Steven Gerrard, but the skipper could not get
a clean shot in on goal.
Emile Heskey had a glorious chance on 25 minutes when a
Birmingham up-and-under dropped to him after some
hesitation between Sami Hyppia and Jamie Carragher, but
the former Liverpool marksman's shot was saved by
Gerrard came close to breaking the deadlock just before
the half hour when he collected Crouch's delicate
lay-off before firing a vicious left-footed effort onto
the post with Maik Taylor well beaten.
Blues were visibly growing in stature in the second half
and they started to push Liverpool back - in part due to
a number of mistakes being made by the European
Spanish keeper Reina made a real hash of an attempted
punch from a deflected cross which looped high into the
air, but Mikael Forssell's control let him down when he
had a great chance to get a shot in on goal.
The breakthrough did come on 68 minutes when substitute
Garcia latched on to Gerrard's superb through ball to
slot past Taylor.
However, the lead was to last just four minutes as
Julian Gray's cross from the right after a corner was
flicked into his own net by Stephen Warnock, although
Reina did not cover himself in glory as the ball flew
past his hands.
Reina was definitely at fault as Blues took the lead on
76 minutes, when he spilled Heskey's tame header and
allowed Walter Pandiani to prod the ball home from close
Liverpool were now chasing the game and only a superb
header off the line from Jamie Clapham stopped Garcia
from heading in a second goal for The Reds.
More drama was in store eight minutes from time when
Neil Kilkenny was sent off on his Premiership debut for
slapping Carragher's header off the line with his hand
after the ball had bounced down off the bar.
Substitute Djibril Cisse stepped up and sent Taylor the
wrong way from the resultant penalty to restore parity
Still, a pulsating end to the game had more action as
Cisse whipped in a great cross for Crouch but he could
only head narrowly over after straining his massive
frame to get to the ball.
Crouch again could have won it two minutes from the end
when he headed towards goal from a corner only for
Clapham to head off the line for a second time to earn a
point for the hosts.