LIVERPOOL 2-1 Bordeaux
Liverpool have won and qualified for the knockout rounds of the Europa League. Beating Bordeaux means we no longer need even a single point from our last Europa League fixture (though who actually wants to lose?), we’ve already made it to the last 32 in this competition.
With Liverpool currently top of our group table, a win or a draw against Sion would see Liverpool keeping their 1st place. Seeing as Rubin Kazan could win against Bordeaux in their final fixture and take their total points up to 8, it might actually be possible for Rubin Kazan to take 2nd place in the group still but only if Liverpool have beaten Sion. Even a draw for Sion would see them keep their 2nd place position and qualify.
If Liverpool happened to lose against Sion in our final Europa League group stage fixture, we’d still qualify as we take 2nd place, for both Bordeaux and Rubin Kazan no longer have the chance to qualify ahead of Liverpool, not earning enough points to do that, even before the final game is due to be played.
It’s been an interesting and certainly not “easy” group stage for Liverpool but we’ve managed to become the only team in the group that has not lost a single game now. Everyone else has lost as least one of their Europa League fixtures and by the end of our last fixture, we might just maintain the group’s only “unbeaten” record. Only losing to Sion will stop that from happening.
The players came out carrying banners of respect and anti-racism, before the kick off. Liverpool also wore black armbands as they played their French opponents and French flags were seen flying around the stadium, all marks of support for the country that has been through a lot this year.
Liverpool Football Club and it’s fans have always been respectful and setting a good example for others is a standard we’ve maintained for many years. Bordeaux fans got to see the truth of that recently.
The manager had been informed recently that he would not be able to use Coutinho for this fixture, due to the injury he’d picked up in the game against Manchester City. This team would therefore include Joe Allen in midfield, alongside Lucas, Milner and Ibe. Firmino and Benteke were further up the pitch, playing in strikers roles.
Randall and Brannagan were both a couple of Academy youngsters named in the squad, but did not get used for the game at all.
As for the weather in Liverpool, you may be able to tell from this picture (of the Europa League sign) that the rain was falling. It wasn’t as heavy as the time when we played Crystal Palace, it was just light rain. The game wasn’t very affected by the weather, a little light rain didn’t make much difference to this fixture. Both teams players would run around the pitch at Anfield for 90 minutes with no trouble.
The first half saw Liverpool look strong and confident, pressing up towards our opponents penalty area frequently, creating attacks that tested their goalkeeper early on in the game. Within the first half hour of the game, even Kolo Toure had made his way into the Bordeaux penalty area and taken a shot or two. This excited me and I was chanting “KOLO, KOLO, KOLO, KOLO!” from the Centenary Stand where I was watching the game. He was using his initiative and doing things the opponent’s hadn’t expected to see from us. There’s no way you can plan ahead for a defender getting far enough up the pitch to shoot and maybe even score against you. Teams will generally only expect the midfielders and strikers to be doing that kind of thing. I was impressed by Toure and really wanted to celebrate a goal by him, but his efforts were all saved or shot wide. Better luck next time, Kolo!
Just after the half hour mark (around 33 minutes), Simon Mignolet had collected the ball. He had it in his hands and took some steps forwards, eventually ending up outside of the penalty area. Apparently he spent up to 20 seconds standing outside of the penalty area with the ball in his hands before the referee noticed and gave an indirect free kick to Bordeaux. Bordeaux placed the ball almost on the white line of the penalty area, Jaroslav Plasil passed it to his teammate (Henri Saivet) and Saivet took their shot and blasted the ball into the back of the net to take the lead before any defenders could stop it. Liverpool 0 -1 Bordeaux.
Bordeaux had taken advantage of a mistake made by Simon Mignolet. If Liverpool had gone for the entire match without scoring and the only goal of the game was this one that led to Liverpool losing, I’d probably be quite angry with our goalkeeper, perhaps even insisting that Adam Bogdan be given a chance to be the goalkeeper in our starting 11 at least until Mignolet shows signs of improvement.
HOWEVER, Liverpool had equalised and even gotten a second goal by the end of the first half so I just am not angry about it, I’m relieved that it only cost us a goal. It didn’t cost us the game and I’m hoping that Mignolet has learned an important lesson and will not repeat this kind of thing in the future.
As I mentioned, Liverpool were also to score some goals. The first for us came about 5 minutes after their goal, when a Bordeaux defender (Lamine Sané) had committed a foul inside of his own penalty area which was bad enough to earn himself a yellow card and a penalty was awarded to Liverpool. James Milner would step up to take it and placed it powerfully in the bottom right corner of the net.
Liverpool 1-1 Bordeaux.
The fans all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief that Mignolet’s mistake would most likely not lead to a defeat for us now that we had a goal of our own and the game continued just as before, with more attacking from Liverpool. We had never given up and now were now motivated to perhaps even find a winning goal. We would do that, before half time came.
Christian Benteke had been playing well, but regularly found himself in offside positions. He’d actually even “scored” (he put the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of net) but the linesman raised his flag and called him to be offside. The guy in the seat next to mine was shouting “Benteke, you’re offside again!” like, every 5 minutes. It really was starting to be a frustrating problem with the Belgian, he was showing some good football but offside goals are just not good enough. We need the kind of goals that we’re allowed to keep, not ones which are disallowed. If he could just make sure that he’s in front of the last defender before he receives the ball and goes on his attack, it’d be of great value to the team. We want you in dangerous positions and also to score goals, but they have to count.
The fourth official had called for 1 minute of extra time to be added onto the end of the first half. Soon after that, there was a corner conceded by Bordeaux. The corner was taken and eventually the ball was played to Nathaniel Clyne. Clyne received the ball, then made a cross into Christian Benteke. The ball would only need to be chested down by Benteke, then he was able to strike a powerful shot which made it’s way past the Bordeaux goalkeeper and into the top right corner of the net. Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux. The referee blew his whistle for half time shortly after this goal and we were leading at the break. I’m sure the half time team talk from the manager had plenty of praise for the players now that we were winning. I was happy and Klopp should have been happy. I was so happy with Benteke eventually (despite all his offsides) that I am awarding Benteke “Man Of The Match” for this fixture. Hopefully we can see more of the same great attacking football in the future from him… perhaps without him being offside so much. There’s areas of improvement for all players but he was the guy who impressed most against Bordeaux. He’d tried hard and made continuous efforts in attacking for Liverpool over 90 minutes.
The second half surprisingly saw no more goals. Liverpool seemed to want a third goal and attacked plenty enough to maybe get one, but Bordeaux did defend well enough to not concede any more. It was a little nerve-wracking to see if Liverpool were maybe going to end up with a 2-2 draw but I think Mignolet had probably decided he wasn’t going to let any more goals in after his first half mistake. So, 45 more (and an extra 5) minutes went by and Liverpool ended up with the 2-1 scoreline we’d had since half time when the final whistle was finally blown.
I thoroughly enjoyed going to Anfield and watching us qualify for the knockout rounds of the Europa League. It probably won’t be the last time I’ll head to Anfield and I will keep sharing the experience of it all with you here, my Anfield Family.
Our next fixture will see Liverpool play Swansea in the Premier League. Until then, keep walking on with hope in your heart.
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.