Liverpool run out of steam

This is not the kind of suspense to make nerve ends crackle at Anfield. No one is galvanised by the recognition that Liverpool could as easily finish bottom of Group A as win it. Rafael Benítez's team, with a single home fixture left, are now two points behind the Monaco club whom they overcame so easily last month.

Whether one looks at Europe or the Premiership, the prospects remain obscure. Liverpool's manager is instilling his methods and there were periods of domination over a lacklustre Deportivo la Coruña but Benítez's side could not capitalise on the good fortune that implored them to put the ball in the net.

Despite the £14.1m Djibril Cissé, who bridled at his eventual substitution, the prospect of new investment at Liverpool will be seen by the fans primarily as a means to secure a top-class striker. Any newcomer dropped into the scene, though, would be crash-landing in a stressful environment.

Liverpool are the one English side to have lost a match in this season's Champions League. The squad is thin and so, too, is the confidence of the players. The syndrome was apparent in Milan Baros and the golden boot winner of Euro 2004 turned into the ditherer of Anfield after 28 minutes.

The build-up was unusually acute as Cissé made a slippery turn and Dietmar Hamann's pass sprang the offside trap for the Czech attacker. After rounding the goalkeeper José Molina, though, Baros still wanted to check his position and so gave hope to Manuel Pablo, who made one of several good challenges.

Despite the involvement of the two forwards in that move, the suspicion is great that Cissé and Baros are alternatives rather than partners. It says much for the magnanimity of the audience that there were cheers for the news of Michael Owen's first goal for Real Madrid rather than curses at the loss of his talent.

Not even Deportivo's vulnerability could provoke Liverpool to ruthlessness. There were lengthy passages of authority in midfield but the passing could not turn into a chain reaction, while the attackers failed to pierce the Deportivo back four regularly enough.

Javier Irureta's team stay bottom of the group and it was easy to spot that they dread elimination from the Champions League. By and large, though, it was pieces of good fortune that invited Liverpool to put the visitors out of their misery.

The ball ran kindly to Cissé after a run by Luis Garcia in the 19th minute but the alert Manuel Pablo came up with a tackle before the Frenchman could produce a shot. Eleven minutes before the interval a ricochet again cosseted Liverpool as Xabi Alonso's shot deflected to Luis Garcia only for his unsatisfactory finish to be tipped over by Molina.

The goalkeeper had earlier parried a drive that Cissé hit on the turn from a Garcia cut-back. Preoccupied as Liverpool are with the problem of rejoining the elite, they should have made short work of Deportivo, as Monaco had done.

The little that last season's semi-finalists had to offer could have hurt Liverpool, however. After quarter of an hour Alberto Luque's corner was met by the brow of Cesar and John Arne Riise had to react well to head off the line at the far post.

Anfield is, nonetheless, still a reservoir of trust and faith where fans, well aware of a heritage frittered, still see encouragement as the starting point of resurgence. These are lucky players, whose good intentions get cheered as if they were solid achievements.

Liverpool were at least to manoeuvre more confidently once their path was smoothed by the injury that ensured the substitution of Deportivo's World Cup winner Mauro Silva.

The revivalist mood, however, had still not reached the strikers and it was the unambitious Deportivo who had the first good chance following the interval. After an hour Victor put an inswinging cross behind the defence and, if the rushing Juan Carlos Valeron could have made solid contact, Liverpool would have been behind.

Something had to change, with Benítez's forwards waning to the extent that the manager even preferred to replace Cissé with the midfielder-cum-full-back, Steve Finnan. In an increasingly fragmented fixture the team were looking for a scrap of luck.

Anfield was eventually reduced to hoping that Anders Frisk would send off one of the Deportivo players who had already been booked. All that angry beseeching was further proof that Liverpool, at present, cannot be the masters of their own fate.

Match Facts

09' Luque
34' Hamann
38' Andrade
76' Duscher
89' Victor
90' Baros

Chris Kirkland, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, Jose Miguel Josemi, John Arne Riise (Harry Kewell), Djimi Traore, Xabi Alonso, Dietmar Hamann, Milan Baros, Djibril Cisse (Steve Finnan), Javier Sanz Luis Garcia (Florent Sinama Pongolle)

Francisco Jose Molina, Jorge Andrade, Juan Capdevila, Cesar Martin, Manuel Pablo Garcia, Aldo Duscher, Gomes Mauro Silva (Lionel Scaloni), Juan Carlos Valeron (Francisco Javier Gonzalez Fran), Albert Luque, Walter Pandiani (Enrique Romero), Sanchez Del Amo Victor

Referee: Frisk, A

Venue: Anfield

Attendance: 40,236

Liverpool 7
Deportivo 2

Goal Attempts:
Liverpool 15
Deportivo 2

On Target:
Liverpool 6
Deportivo 1

Copyright - The Guardian

Article links

  • 0 - 0 Deportivo La Coruna


We've got all the results from official games, appearance stats, goal stats and basically every conceivable statistic from 1892 to the present, every single line-up and substitutions!