After The Match 


Utrecht-Liverpool 0-0                 30.9.10                              EL
Team: Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Lucas, Poulsen, Kuyt, Cole, Meireles,Torres
Subs: Rodriguez (Cole 81)
Not used: Jones, Jovanovic, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Babel, Ngog
Yellow: Leiva (35), Meireles (55), Kelly (60)
Red: None
Referee: Duarte Gomes (Portugal)
Attendance: 23,662
Shots on target: 3-4
Shots off target: 7-6
Blocked shots: 1-0
Fouls conceded: 12-15
Corners: 5-2
Offsides: 1-1
Possession: 43-57
Yellow: 0-3
HEADLINES  "I can have nothing but praise for
my team."
Roy Hodgson
0110: Carragher pleads for patience
3009: Kuyt positive for partnership
3009: Roy happy to take point
3009: Reds play out bore draw


Carragher pleads for patience

By Ben Collins - Sky Sports

Jamie Carragher has warned Liverpool fans there will be no quick fix at Anfield.

Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez as manager after the Reds finished seventh last season but their poor form has continued into the new term.

Liverpool have won just one of their first six Premier League games and were dumped out of the Carling Cup by League Two Northampton at Anfield.

And although the Reds stayed top of their Europa League group with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at FC Utrecht on Thursday night, Carragher admitted the performance was not up to scratch.

Hodgson's men struggled to create chances and were ultimately happy with a share of the spoils but Carragher highlighted that the club is in a transitional period.

"It's a good point," he told the Liverpool Echo. "But we all know that we can improve on the performance. In the new format of the Europa League, you've got to try to win your home games first of all.

"If you then follow up by not losing your away games, you are doing okay and that's what we have done. But we know we can get better.

Work in progress
"This is a work in progress. We are steadily getting there and if we can get three points at the weekend, we'll head into the two-week break looking forward to the derby."

While most Liverpool fans are eager for their American owners to sell up and move on, some have already called for Hodgson's head.

But Carragher, who played under both previous managers Gerard Houllier and Benitez, stressed that it will take time for Hodgson to turn things around.

"I know everyone thinks that when you get a new manager, you start winning every week but in Gerard Houllier's first season (1998/99) we finished seventh and in Rafa's we finished fifth (2004/05)," added the veteran defender.

"It's not always a case that when you bring in a new manager everything changes - we finished seventh last year because we were the seventh best team in the league.

"We are not all of a sudden going to be pulling up trees left, right and centre. As I said, it's a work in progress and we have to work through it."

Blackpool visit
Liverpool were fortunate to claim a 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland last Saturday and they will be eager to head into the international break on a high as they host newly-promoted Blackpool on Sunday.

"We said that we needed a win against Sunderland after the Northampton game, didn't we - every game you play for Liverpool is vital, " Carragher added.

"When you have the two-week break, you feel good if you go into it with a win and it is something that we will be looking to do.

"But Blackpool have been the story of the season. They will be desperate to make a statement at Anfield and it's up to us to match their enthusiasm."

Kuyt positive for partnership

Sky Sports

Dirk Kuyt is confident that a potential partnership with Fernando Torres can yield goals should they be given more chances.

The Dutch international was given a rare start alongside the Spaniard in their goalless draw with Utrecht on Thursday in the Europa League, but they struggled to create chances.

Kuyt and Torres showed some nice link-up play in stages however, and the 29-year-old felt that should they can score goals together should manager Roy Hodgson give them the opportunity.

He also backed the under-fire Torres to get over what has been a considerable dip in form by his standards and bounce back in style.

"Tonight we created a good chance together," he said.

"Against Sunderland and West Brom it worked well, so I think we can play well together but tonight wasn't the best game for us or the team.

"It's just a matter of time for Fernando. I said that after the Sunderland game when people were talking about him not scoring, but he still provided two assists.

"Tonight he missed a chance, but he is human and can miss chances like everyone else. I'm sure his goals will come."

Reflecting on the game, where he returned to the club that gave him his first senior contract, Kuyt felt that they had done well to earn a point from their opponents.

"It was a really tough game. It was difficult from the start. We didn't play our best game but we will keep fighting.

"We created some good chances but so did they, so I think we have to be happy with a 0-0.

"We can take confidence from this and we will keep fighting. I think the good thing from tonight is that we got a clean sheet. An away draw in Europe isn't too bad and we have four points from two games, so we just have to keep going and win on Sunday."

Roy happy to take point

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admitted he was happy to gain a point in their 1-1 draw with Utrecht on Thursday.

The Reds struggled throughout the game to build any pressure and create chances against the Dutch side, with star striker Fernando Torres cutting a frustrated figure up front.

Hodgson's side stay top of their group following the result in what was, for the most part, an uninspiring game at the Galgenwaard Stadium, but he stated that it was a point gained rather than two dropped.

"It was a good point. We knew it was going to be a tough game. The occasions when they created some chances were largely of our own making. They were the result of unfortunate individual errors. I thought the shape of the team and the way we approached the game - I can have nothing but praise for my team," said Hodgson.

"We created some good chances ourselves also. It wasn't a dull 0-0, there was activity at both ends of the field.

"Utrecht did well. They were as determined and committed as we expected them to be, so we had to be at our best defensively and we were.

"We saw some very determined chasing down from the Dutch forwards, their crossing and attacking the ball from crossing was good and it was easy to see why Utrecht have got a very good home record.

"So it's a good point to take back to Liverpool. Four points out of two games. It's the first time we haven't won one of these games but to be honest it would have been unfortunate for them if we'd won the game tonight. They would have felt hard done by. For me, a draw was a more than satisfactory result.

"I think the group is going to be very tight. The other game finished in a draw. We're top with four, then Utrecht and Napoli with two points and Steaua Bucharest with one point. It's already quite close and I think it will be close right until the end with the way this group is panning out."

Commenting on the performance of Torres, who saw one chance go begging after a fine save by Michel Vorm, Hodgson praised the Spaniard's work rate, despite once again coming away from the game without a goal.

"There was some good combinations between him and the wide players and Dirk Kuyt. He worked very hard but he's still missing that elusive goal.

"There were a couple of quite good occasions for him to score but I think he'll feel it was a good 90-minute workout for him and another step in the right direction."

Reds play out bore draw

Sky Sports

Liverpool failed to build any head of steam as they laboured to a goalless draw with Utrecht in their Europa League group game on Thursday.

Roy Hodgson fielded a strong side as he looked to gain some form going into an important Premier League game against Blackpool on Sunday, but he'll be disappointed with what he saw.

The Reds were completely lacking in inspiration throughout, with Fernando Torres cutting a forlorn figure up front on his own and still lacking the sharpness that made him so feared in the past.

Utrecht arguably had the better of the chances, with Alje Schut and Jacob Mulenga going close for the home side in the second half.

Although Liverpool stay top of the group going into their third game of the competition, it was still a disappointing showing by what Hodgson would consider his strongest available side.

In the end it was a point gained for the Reds, but it was not the performance many thought could kick-start what has been a lacklustre opening to their season.

A point in the Stadion Galgenwaard, where the hosts had won their previous six matches, was no disgrace but it was hardly one of those classic, gritty away performances in Europe.

Roy Hodgson's side, who had five successive Europa League victories prior to this game, were dominated for long periods and their clean sheet owed much to goalkeeper Jose Reina and a goalline clearance from Raul Meireles.

Liverpool have now gone four matches without a victory in all competitions and Hodgson's blueprint for reinvigorating the team after Rafael Benitez's departure in the summer still looks very much like a work in progress.

Without their captain Steven Gerrard, left behind to rest on Merseyside, the side looked devoid of ideas and even the presence of Torres for his first Europa League start of the campaign did not help.

The only real positive to come out of the game was that the five-time European champions and winners of this competition on a record-equalling three occasions, extended their impressive statistics against Dutch clubs.

Since losing their first encounter against Ajax in 1966 they have now not been beaten in 12 matches against teams from the Netherlands.

But that run came close to being ended on a number of occasions as Utrecht were the better side from the off.

In only the fifth minute the prolific Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, scorer of 13 goals in 14 games this season, was given half a chance when Christian Poulsen gave away possession but the 21-year-old striker could only divert Dries Mertens' left-wing cross wide of the far post.

Liverpool fashioned three or four openings - none of which could be described in any way as good - with Meireles both shooting and heading at goalkeeper Michel Vorm either side of off-target efforts from Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole.

Torres also curled a shot wide after turning and shooting from the edge of the area.

But the best first-half chances fell to Utrecht with Jan Wuytens' volley only ruled out for Jacob Mulenga's foul on Martin Kelly, makeshift left-back in the absence of the injured trio of Paul Konchesky, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio.

And had it not been for Reina saving well at close range from Mertens after Dirk Kuyt, returning to his former club, was slow to react to a loose ball in the penalty area from a corner Liverpool would have been behind at half-time.

Torres had been quiet all night and, early in the second half, when the ball did drop to him in the penalty area from Glen Johnson's cross he hacked wildly at it and ballooned a shot over.

But Liverpool were soon on the back foot again with Reina diving at the feet of Wolfswinkel to stop Mulenga's low cross while Meireles cleared off the line from Michael Silverbauer's header when his goalkeeper came for Mertens' corner but missed.

Typically, considering his fortunes this season, Torres' one chance came in the 57th minute but he was denied by a great reaction save from Vorm when Kuyt picked him out with a low, near-post cross.

To compound the Spaniard's frustration referee Duarte Gomes awarded a goal-kick.

He was almost gifted another opportunity moments later when Mihai Nesu left his back-pass short but the striker's first touch took the ball out of play as he attempted to round Vorm.

As the match entered its closing stages it was Utrecht who looked the most likely scorers.

Maxi Rodriguez's first touch after replacing Cole with eight minutes to go saw him attempt an ambitious overhead kick which failed to hit the target.

Liverpool were happy with the draw but Mulenga should have snatched victory only to drive wide of Reina's left-hand post with only the goalkeeper to beat.

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Thor Zakariassen