LEAGUE CUP SEMI-FINAL: CHELSEA 1-0 LIVERPOOL
Sad, but true- Liverpool are out of the League Cup, despite performing really well. Personally, I am sure that if the referees had done 50% of their job yesterday, Liverpool would be at Wembley on March 1! Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho, who often laments about how his team is dealt badly by referees, defended his player’s really bad fouls as ‘accidental’. My opinion is that Liverpool fans shouldn’t be saying that they lost, but actually, they were unfairly made to lose!
Liverpool’s squad saw the return of Gerrard in the starting 11. However, like the past few weeks, Rodgers decided to stick with Raheem Sterling as the sole striker. Despite reports that Sturridge was match fit, it looks like Rodgers didn’t want to risk him being injured very soon. Rodger’s gamble of not starting with a specialist striker has paid off a few times this season, but Rodgers definitely has to opt for a stronger forward formation as it has cost us quite a lot of goals. Liverpool required an away goal at any cost to progress further and so we should have opted for a better attacking option.
However, Liverpool did show a lot of composure and looked really threatening throughout the game. The players created many chances. Coutinho particularly looked very threatening, with some really great skills. Sterling too had a few good chances, but failed to threat the keeper.
But, it was only 11 minutes when Chelsea’s dirty tactics became apparently visible. Diego Costa, the guy worshipped by Chelsea fans as heroes first pushed Emre Can down around the sidelines, then acting as if he was desperate for getting the ball, cleverly stamped on Can’s ankle, which shockingly was neither visible to the referee, nor the assistant, but was clearly visible to both the managers. I have seen players become out of action for even 3 months because of such stamps. Angered by the action, Can even confronted Costa in frustration. But according to the referees, it wasn’t even worth a yellow card! Seriously, are the referees appointed by the FA so incompetent these days?
Ok, sometimes it’s acceptable to see players missing out on bookings and red cards. But on this game, there were 2 other incidents with the Spaniard, where he again stamped on Skrtel. A few moments ago, Skrtel looked to have fouled Costa, yet it wasn’t very clear. But a few moments later, he was the perpetrator, when he stamped on Skrtel, too. And guess what…. the referees didn’t see any foul here too!!!
Outside those pauses, there was plenty of action on the pitch. The game was very competitive as both sides kept threatening each other. But it was to end goalless till 90 minutes.
So the game was to go through extra time. Liverpool, thus managed to stop the top team in the Premier League for two 90 minute draws. Considering the awful start Liverpool had to the season, the performance clearly shows that we have improved a lot.
But, the Red’s heart was to be broken in the fourth minute of extra time, when Branislav Ivanovic headed the ball past Mignolet. We were now trailing 1-0.
7 minutes later another Costa drama would unfold! The Spaniard made a rugby tackle against Gerrard after not being able to get the ball. Gerrard, furious with the action, got out of the ground and pushed Costa. Seeing all that right in front of his eyes, the referee’s verdict was that both players were equally guilty and penalized both. Isn’t that what we would call a ‘blind justice’?
Liverpool marched on, trying to find a goal till the last moment. But, the day and the referees were against us! The final score was 1-0.
It certainly wasn’t a game Liverpool deserved to lose. Even if it was a straight 1-0 defeat minus the incidents, I would have considered it to be a good game. But it was a game, we lost unfairly and I dare say that Liverpool were robbed of a victory.