After The Match 


Birmingham-Liverpool 2-2 (0-0)         24.09.05                    PL
Goals: Garcia (67), Cisse (pen 83)    Warnock (og 71), Pandiani (74)
Team: Reina, Josemi, Hyypia, Carragher, Gerrard, Alonso, Hamann, Warnock, Zenden, Pongolle, Crouch
Subs: Garcia (Pongolle 60), Cisse (Zenden 68), Riise (Hamann 79)
Not used: Carson, Finnan
Yellow: Pongolle (34), Garcia (64), Warnock (70)             
Clapham (43), Cunningham (67)
Red: Kilkenny (83)
Referee: S Bennett
Attendance: 27,733 
Shots on target: 4-6
Shots off target: 0-8
Fouls conceded: 14-14
Corners: 3-7
Yellow: 2-3


HEADLINES "We're happy
to still be
     Steven Gerrard

2409: Rafa rues missed chances
2409: Bruce blasts ref
2409: Gerrard: Draw not good enough
2409: Reds held by Blues


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 consistent.

"We need to improve small details but then you always think that. We are certainly creating more chances than last season."

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," added Benitez.

"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."

Bruce blasts ref

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 good.

"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."

Gerrard: Draw 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 good enough."

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."

Reds held by Blues

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 winner.

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 Reina's legs.

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 champions.

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 range.

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 at 2-2.

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.

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Thor Zakariassen