Reds undone by last gasp equalizer.
Now its not all doom and gloom and many will have you believe that we are sinking further into the abyss but that would be a harsh assessment of the tough 90 minute assignment that so nearly bore fruit.
Lyon knew what game to play, the needed a point and they played in a very organized and focused manner, quite removed from their excellent counter attacking style they produced at Anfield. Rafa played his hand and went for Andriy Voronin instead of Ryan Babel, which is a bit like a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. You can’t fault Rafa for his game plan and had we put away the fairly standard chances the likes of Kuyt and Voronin had, then we could have got that vital first goal a lot earlier.
I have to say that the referee did all he could to make the game a stop start affair, blowing his whistle at the merest hint of a challenge. Our re-shuffled back four did okay for the best part of 89 minutes and Daniel Agger and Sotiros Kyrgiakos did a pretty decent job of shackling the Lyon frontmen. Gomis also went down with alarming ease far to often, I mean the guy is build like a brick shithouse but he fell to the floor whenever anyone came near him.
I was impressed by Michel Bastos though who was giving Emiliano Insua a hard time. Lucas continues to impress and has started to be far more effective with the ball and his passes from the midfield were assured and a million miles away from last season’s displays. Javier Mascherano was also trying manfully to build a wall against the Lyon midfield and did a decent job.
Our misfiring Ukrainian now appears at times to be trying TOO hard, and nothing is quite coming off for him. He really doesn’t look good enough to start for us and I think his days are numbered. El Nino tried manfully to lead the line and put in a physical performance and led from the front but couldn’t make things happen and was for the most part not getting the service he needed.
If I had to make any complaints about Benitez’s tactics it would be that he could maybe have taken Andriy off at half time and I am not sure of the wisdom of taking off Fernando Torres for the final five minutes. Now I understand the idea of resting him but couldn’t he have managed another 5 minutes? When he went off I was thinking to myself “If Lyon score we are screwed”. These are of course petty little niggles and not really proper criticisms as I felt that Rafa played the right game and we just came undone in the final minutes when our defence switched off (there was also a suspicion of a handball before the goal).
Ryan Babel of course scored a blinder but then summed up his time with us that two minutes later he attempted a shot on target that ended up going off for a throw-in. He showed in one split second with that arrow straight finish just what he is capable of and it really is time for him to get his head together before its too late.
Lets face it we now need a miracle and have to hope that Lyon give a damn when they face Fiorentina in the next round of games but all in all other than some of the recent performances, there is not really much you can fault the lads and gaffer for.