BESIKTAS 1 – 0 LIVERPOOL

The Europa League campaign has come to an end. SORRY, Reds fans.

I had such confidence and strong belief that Liverpool would progress into the next round of this competition. Sometimes, things just don’t go as you thought they would.

Liverpool had gone into this game with a 1 goal lead on Besiktas, already having beaten them at Anfield in the first of the two legs to be played. (more about that at http://www.anfieldfamily.com/liverpool-1-0-besiktas/).

With the single goal advantage, we could have sat back and just defended for the entire 90 minutes. I can’t confirm if Brendan Rodgers told his players to use this tactic, but Liverpool did not score a single goal in the first 90 minutes of this game so it’s quite possible he did (because generally, when you start playing extra defensively, you don’t score many or sometimes not any goals due to the fact that you stopped your attacking tactics).

The only thing we didn’t expect Besiktas to do was score before the 90 minutes were up – that meant the aggregate scoreline was now 1-1 and once the referee had blown his whistle for the end of 90 minutes, the game would continue into extra time.  You only had to do ONE thing to progress to the next round, Liverpool… stop the opposition from scoring. It wouldn’t even have mattered that you couldn’t score even 1 goal then… but you DID concede and it DID matter that you hadn’t scored yourselves in this game since the score was identical to the one that happened at Anfield. The home side won 1-0.  At the very least, that meant more effort for you because you’d have to play beyond 90 minutes, with aggregate score being level.

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Liverpool had multiple players that were not able to be a part of the squad for this game. Steven Gerrard has been injured with a hamstring problem for a while. Our regular vice-captain was not there (Jordan Henderson), so who to chose for captain of the team for this game? Martin Skrtel got the honour.

Mario Balotelli would get to start a game for the first time since November 8th (2014) and even rarer than that – alongside him would be Daniel Sturridge. They haven’t partnered each other since the away win against Tottenham in August (2014), shortly after that Daniel Sturridge picked up a long term injury and Balotelli would not really be putting in good enough performances to keep getting picked regularly as a starter for the first team so Brendan Rodgers would soon begin using other players in his position. I honestly thought these two players were going to have more impact on this game and perhaps even score some goals (at least one of them, or maybe both). It didn’t happen.

Other key players not an option for choosing were Mamadou Sakho (he’s got a hip injury) and Lucas Leiva (he is recovering, but should be out for a few more weeks) and even Coutinho. As a result, Cameron Brannagan and Jordan Williams were chosen for the substitute bench, though neither of them got any time on the pitch. They were kind of there to “make up the numbers”, the only available options for ensuring that despite all our injuries we still could have had 7 substitutes in addition to our 11 starting players.

In the lower leagues, sometimes you do see clubs that only list a few substitutes (I’ve seen sides that had 11 starting players but just three substitutes – not seven). It happens more often in sides that aren’t very financially secure, they don’t have a billionaire or even millionaire owner. They just can’t afford to have a large squad and sometimes even making up 18 members for a squad is a challenge for them, especially once the season has been going for a while and the players have gotten some injuries.

Liverpool are a globally known club though and are very financially secure, our owners would always be able to reach into their pockets and find a little extra money for additional players and Liverpool’s Academy has been developing very talented players for a long time. The less financially secure clubs don’t even have an “academy”, so all players they bring in will either be loaned players, free transfers (players whose contracts had expired and were available for no transfer fee), or players that wouldn’t cost a million pounds or more. Even their “star player” (best player in the squad) is usually worth less than a million pounds. That’s the reality for many clubs in the world. It doesn’t mean you still can’t see some great football still, though. There’s clubs out in Africa and other parts of the world that don’t have a lot of money, but their players can still show you how talented they are.  That’s why the larger clubs send “scouts” around the world, to find talent.

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Anyway, back to Besiktas V Liverpool. As I mentioned, 90 minutes went by and the aggregate score was 1-1. The teams would now play for an extra 30 minutes to see if either side could score a “winner”. No more goals were scored, meaning the game would go to a penalty shoot out. No problem! I love a good shootout. Liverpool’s record in extra time and even on penalties is excellent. In fact, Liverpool have only been beaten three times in a penalty shootout – we had lost to Wimbledon in the League Cup 4th round in 1993, also to Northampton in the League Cup 3rd round in 2010 and now Besiktas have become the 3rd club to ever beat Liverpool on penalties.

Liverpool’s success in European competitions before has included penalties. Liverpool had beaten Roma in the 1984 European Cup final and AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, and also defeated Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final in 2007, all of them by penalty shootout.

In other competitions, Liverpool have scored as many as 14 penalties to gain victory over our opponents in a penalty shootout. Pretty much the whole squad had a turn of taking a spot kick as we beat Middlesbrough 14-13 in a League Cup penalty shootout this season.

Considering all of that success, it is understandable that any Reds fan would have had lots of confidence and belief in Liverpool to win yet another game on penalties.

I’ll talk you through how it went down, goal by goal. You might be surprised at how many times I mention Liverpool score, even though we lost eventually. It was really close. [NOTE: SCORELINE MENTIONED HERE WILL REFLECT GOALS SCORED BY PENALTY KICK ONLY, not including the goal Besiktas scored within 90 minutes of this game or the goal Liverpool scored in the first leg].

Ex Chelsea player Demba Ba would step  up to take the first penalty of the shootout out… and he scores it, hitting the ball to the bottom right corner.

BESIKTAS 1 – 0 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool’s first penalty taker would be Rickie Lambert, who has yet to MISS a penalty for Liverpool, he scores them every time. He stepped up and put a right footed shot to the top left corner of the goal. That ain’t easy and there was no chance for the Besiktas goalkeeper.

BESIKTAS 1 – 1 LIVERPOOL

The next Besiktas player to take a penalty was Gökhan Töre. He placed the ball into the net with a left footed shot to the top left corner.

BESIKTAS 2 – 1 LIVERPOOL

The second Liverpool player asked to do his duty for his club in this shootout was Adam Lallana. No problem for him, he scored as he hit a right footed shot into the right bottom corner, past the Besiktas goalkeeper.

BESIKTAS 2 – 2 LIVERPOOL

Besiktas asked Veli Kavlak to take their next penalty. He’d hit a right footed shot down the middle of the goal and Simon Mignolet would not save it.

BESIKTAS 3 – 2 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool requested Emre Can to take a penalty next. He would hit a right footed shot to the bottom left corner of the net to claim himself a goal, in Istanbul.

BESIKTAS 3 – 3 LIVERPOOL

Besiktas now would get Atiba Hutchinson to take a penalty. He’d put his right footed shot to the right of the Liverpool goalkeeper, increasing his teams lead once more.

BESIKTAS 4 – 3 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers would choose Joe Allen to take a penalty.  Allen stepped up and did not disappoint as he put Liverpool’s fourth penalty in the back of the net, on the left hand side.

BESIKTAS 4 – 4 LIVERPOOL

The next penalty taken by either team could decide who wins or loses the shootout. Besiktas would get Tolgay Arslan to take their next penalty and he would score it, converting their 5th spot kick.

BESIKTAS 5 – 4 LIVERPOOL

A miss by Liverpool now would instantly give Besiktas victory and progression to the next round of the Europa League.

Dejan Lovren would step up bravely and fire a powerful shot high and wide, to the right of the goal. The shootout was concluded as the score remained BESIKTAS 5 – 4 LIVERPOOL after our 5th penalty had been taken and Liverpool were knocked out of this competition, as Besiktas made their way to the Last 16.

Lovren-18

I personally do not blame Dejan Lovren for this. Liverpool have an entire squad of players who have participated in penalty shootouts before, quite successfully. Even Simon Mignolet has scored a penalty, so it really isn’t an issue of “why did we let a defender take a penalty?” – we’ve had players of all positions take and score penalties.

Simon Mignolet has scored a penalty for Liverpool

Simon Mignolet has scored a penalty for Liverpool, despite not being an attacking player.

I am more disappointed with the fact that Liverpool failed to score within the first 90 minutes of the game or even in extra time than the fact we lost on penalties. Credit to the Liverpool players who were brave enough to be one of the players who took a penalty kick in a major competition for their club. I refuse to criticise anyone (even Lovren, the only player to miss his penalty for Liverpool) for their part in the shootout.

Lovren-17

As I mentioned earlier, Liverpool may have deliberately chosen to play defensively in order to attempt to keep Besiktas from scoring within 90 minutes and then Liverpool could have progressed to the next round of the competition, using only their aggregate score (the goal scored at Anfield). However, this really only worked for 71 minutes which was when Besiktas scored and Liverpool then had to get another goal in the next 20 minutes or even one inside of the 30 minutes of extra time or they would be giving Besiktas a golden opportunity to take victory and that’s what they did.

It would have been to Liverpool’s great advantage to score before having to go to penalties. That’s what I’m feeling most disappointed with. We scored ONE at Anfield against them… could we not have scored ONE in Turkey, also? Just ONE GOAL! It’s really not too much to ask of the players and would have been of great benefit to the club. Now, Liverpool’s hopes of playing in European competition again rests on the chances of claiming at least 5th (for Europa League) or even 4th (for Champions League) in the Premier League by the time our 38th league game has been played to qualify for that happening next season.

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We’re going to move on now. Liverpool’s next game will be against one of the top 5 clubs above us. Manchester City! If we can take points from them (at least a draw) we can hopefully keep our current league position (6th), but don’t forget that Tottenham are only 1 point behind us (so we’d need them to lose or draw also) and the teams just above us in 5th and 4th will also be trying to increase the gap on us, as the Premier League is really getting competitive now. Every result matters. It can be the difference between being able to compete in the Champions League or NOT. We want to be in European competition next season, pretty BAD. We now know we won’t be winning the Europa League (this season) in order to get that.

Keep your heads held high as you walk on, Reds. Your Anfield Family is walking with you too. You’ll Never Walk Alone!

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.

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