Liverpool 2-2 Young Boys
Liverpool went into their match at Anfield against Young Boys of Berne, knowing that a win would secure qualification into the next round of the Europa League. Liverpool beat the Swiss side 5-3 in Berne, earlier in September, so expectancy was high to guarantee qualification at home with a win against Young boys.
Brendan Rodgers selected a team mixed with experience, youth and of players who are running out of chances to impress their manager. Reina started in goal making his 81st European appearance for Liverpool and breaking Ray Clemence’s long standing record for the club. Wisdom, Carragher, Skrtel and Downing made up Liverpool’s defence. Assaidi was on the left of midfield, with Sahin, Henderson in the middle and Suso on the right. Joe Cole supported Jonjo Shelvey in an unfamiliar role up front.
There were few empty seats for this Europa League match as the home support expected a home win. But the Swiss side brought a tremendous away support with them giving Anfield a brilliant atmosphere for the match.
Right from kick-off the visitors showed their intent with a neat passing move to get behind Liverpool’s defence, resulting in Zarate hooking over Reina’s bar with only 9 seconds played. This early move silenced the home support into thinking that this could be a tougher match than most of them predicted.
Next, Raphael Nuzzolo received the ball at the end of a Young Boys counter-attack and stung the palms of Reina with a left-footer from just inside the area.
Liverpool gradually came into the game but it wasn’t until the 17th minute before they created their first chance when Shelvey’s clever pass sent Cole scampering into the right-hand side of the box, but his shot missed the far post.
Henderson had a long range effort from a free-kick comfortably saved by Wolfli. At the other end, Skrtel had to be alert to block an effort from Alexander Farnerud.
Wolfli’s involvement in the contest was increasing and on 26 minutes only his fine stop denied Liverpool a picture book opener after Shelvey’s sumptuous flick allowed Jordan Henderson to motor into the box and drill goalwards.
With half an hour played, Gerrard entered the action to replace Andre Wisdom with the young defender having picked up a knock. Henderson reverted to right-back as part of the re-shuffle.
Liverpool took the lead moments later, when a clever move on the edge of the box involving Cole and Suso resulted in Cole chipping the ball over the advancing Wolfli for Shelvey to head into the net from inches out.
Skrtel almost made it 2-0 when he deflected a Joe Cole shot towards goal but Nuzzola cleared off the line.
Liverpool were now in complete control and went close again to securing a two-goal half-time advantage when Suso steered wide with just Wolfli to beat and the interval looming.
The visitors started the second half the way they started the first, Farnerud drilled a shot over Reina’s bar, while Zverotic swerved an effort inches off target from distance.
Back came the Reds and Suso’s precise through ball dissected the visiting defence, but Cole could not beat Wolfli when one-on-one – and it would prove a costly miss as the Swiss club drew level within seconds.
Farnerud’s raking pass picked out Bobadilla just inside the box. The No.9 took a touch to set himself before blasting across Reina into the far corner with a fine finish.
With the match level, Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Luis Suarez for the last half hour in place of Suso.
By now, Liverpool were firmly back in the ascendancy and they pinned their guests back with a succession of corners in front of the Kop.
A breakthrough seemed inevitable – and it duly arrived with 18 minutes left to play.
Suarez and Gerrard’s slick exchange of passes allowed the latter to pick out Cole’s run into the box. With his back to goal, the No.10 spun before stabbing beyond Wolfli and wheeling away in celebration.
Liverpool had the lead they craved, but as they looked for a killer third goal, they were stunned at the other end, when Zverotic claimed an equaliser with the visitors by blasting home from the edge of the box, meaning Liverpool’s Europa League fate now rests on the outcome of the trip to Udinese in a fortnight’s time.
Great credit must go to Young Boys and their tremendously vocal and respectful support. A brilliant gesture by the travelling support by their show of support to the Hillsborough families when they held up a banner during the first half that was loudly applauded by all sections of Anfield in their appreciation.
Brendan Rodgers plan backfired in his decision to rest some of his regular players. I thought he should have played his strongest side, win the match and then his players could have been guaranteed a rest in a fortnights time. But now if he wants to progress in the Europa League then he will not be able to take any chances.
Young Boys surprised Liverpool with quality, but having taken the lead twice it was poor they way we let the lead slip, especially the second equaliser in the closing minutes, when naivety was shown not being able to run the clock down.
Good performances were shown from Assaidi, but he faded as the game went on, Jonjo Shelvey was very impressive in an unfamiliar role, and showed great desire to get into the box for his goal. The much maligned Joe Cole’s best game in a Red shirt, and took his goal well, But should have scored just before the visitors scored their first goal.
Overall, it was a night of big disappointment not to win the match that meant qualification and now a difficult trip to Italy in a fortnight’s time is next.