LIVERPOOL 1 – 0 BESIKTAS
Liverpool have started their Europa League campaign with a win. Well done, Reds!
We came into the last 32 for this competition by way of an embarrassing Champions League exit. Not the best way to qualify for something, but at least our European campaign continues for a longer while.
Thrown up against a team who we had previously beaten 8-0 at Anfield, we had some confidence about how many goals we’d score as we would surely win against Besiktas. Some people even said EIGHT goals! Hey, we did it before! Why couldn’t history repeat itself? Some scorelines do happen more than once.
The lineup was interesting. Perhaps not as strong as it could have been with Gerrard and Lucas injured, Sterling only just coming back from his injury (and therefore just making the subs bench). I’m always happy to see Jordon Ibe in the squad and even more so when he manages to get himself a starting place, too. He’s quickly becoming a valuable asset to the first team. Sturridge has been waiting for his chance to get back into the starting 11 also and the fans are glad to see him there after so many months without him.
The first half did not go as well for Liverpool as most Reds fans thought it would. Not so much headed for an 8-0 win as it was headed for a goalless draw… neither side was looking likely to score.
Ibe and Sturridge had some good attacking play going on as they played balls between each other, but nothing that was going to result in a goal really. The best chance at scoring in the first 45 minutes for Liverpool was when Alberto Moreno decided to take a shot on goal from about 40 yards out, coming close enough to make the Besiktas goalkeeper force the ball over the crossbar with his fingertips.
Liverpool hopefully had a good half time talk from the manager. The team lineup stayed the same for a while longer, it would be 60 minutes into the game before Brendan Rodgers decided to take off Coutinho and bring on Balotelli and also swap Dejan Lovren for Joe Allen, a couple of substitutes the Reds fans will have been happy to see.
Mario has been a game changer in recent fixtures. We’ve seen him score, we’ve seen him assist goals. He’s making a difference to results and he sure did that again in this Europa League cup tie.
By the 85th minute, Jordon Ibe was fouled inside the penalty area and Mario insisted that he would take the penalty, snatching the ball out of Jordan Henderson’s hands even to ensure that he would get to make the spot kick count. You might think that rude, perhaps (and the manager has publicly criticized the “etiquette” in the way which the players decided who was going to take it), but Mario is a proven goalscorer from spot kicks, with over a 95% success rate (having scored about 25 out of 27 penalties he’s ever taken in his career). Henderson has taken something like 1 penalty kick and missed it. There’s no comparison and I was totally backing Mario to score it.
That, for me, justifies him having made sure he got to take it by snatching the ball for himself. You can call it rude, I’ll just call it “doing what was necessary for the good of the club”. HE knows how good he is at penalties. The rest of the team should be aware, too. Not knowing your teammates strengths is what can lead to silly arguments on the pitch like we saw. We don’t need that. Mario proved his worth and scored.
He stayed calm despite the pressure and put the ball to the left of the Besiktas goalkeeper, into the net. Liverpool 1 – 0 Besiktas, with only 5 minutes left to play in the 2nd half. It wasn’t too long before the referee blew his whistle for full time and Mario had gotten the winning goal of the game and become the only player of the 2014-2015 season to have scored in both the Champions League and Europa League!
Thanks Super Mario and congratulations. Liverpool now go into the next tie with Besiktas needing only a draw (even a goalless draw would be enough to let the aggregate 1 goal lead take them to the next round) as they’ll make their way over to Turkey, a place Liverpool fans remember with fondness after the “miracle of Istanbul”, winning the Champions League Final in 2005. Ten years ago! It feels like last season.
Liverpool’s next fixture will be against the team we played first this season, Southampton. We’re starting to get into the 2nd league game against some clubs now and we know we’ve beaten these once already. Can we do it again? We’ll find out soon!
Until then, keep walking on with hope in your hearts Reds fans. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
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.