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Match Report


Posted Sun 28 Feb 10 at 17:43 PM

Report: Liverpool 2 Rovers 1

ROVERS suffered yet more agony away from home as they slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Anfield.

Sam Allardyce's side stunned the home fans with a strong start that should have seen them take the lead as Samba, Pedersen, Olsson and Kalinić all went close.

Little had been seen of Liverpool until they took the lead on 20 minutes against the run of play. Steven Gerrard's heavy touch seeing the ball get away from Samba allowing the Liverpool captain to score.

Reina then denied Pedersen twice in succession, but Rovers grabbed the goal they deserved courtesy of an Andrews penalty after Carragher had handled.

But parity lasted just three minutes, when an alert Rodriguez fed Torres to score just before the break.

The second half was slower to get going but still it was Rovers with the better of the chances, Kalinić was denied twice by Reina, whilst Hoilett and Grella wasted opportunities.

But at the death Chris Samba thought he had grabbed something for Rovers until he saw his header tipped around the post by Reina.

The scoreline was tough on Rovers, they deserved much much more.

Watch the match highlights on Rovers Player

Following on from their 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers last time out, it came as no surprise that manager Sam Allardyce made as few changes as possible.

The only change being enforced due to the injury to Ryan Nelsen, but free from suspension, Chris Samba was able to slot in.

Rovers started brightly creating four excellent chances in the space of sixteen first half minutes.

The first came on two when from a El-Hadji Diouf corner kick Samba could only head straight at Pepe Reina.

Then failure from the Liverpool midfield to close down Martin Olsson allowed the Swede to take advantage. But his 35 yard thunderbolt flew inches over the bar.

Anfield was subdued as Rovers continued to force the pace, Morten Gamst Pedersen shooting straight at Reina when Carragher's clearance went straight at the Rovers man. Then the Norwegian turned provider to send in Nikola Kalinić but he lashed the ball a yard wide of goal.

For 19 minutes it had been Rovers pressing for the first goal of the game, so it is fair to say that it was against the run of play when Liverpool broke the deadlock.

Steven Gerrard finding Yossi Benayoun cutting in from the left, and although the Liverpool captain mis-controlled his return pass, it helped take the ball past Chris Samba and he cooly lifted the ball over the advancing Robinson.

That goal was tough on Rovers but they almost hit back straight away. A superb volley from Morten Gamst Pedersen was beaten away by Reina at the near post, the Liverpool goalkeeper then alert to deny the Rovers midfielder a second time on the follow-up.

Liverpool wasted an excellent opportunity to double their lead on the half hour when Dirk Kuyt headed a Gerrard corner kick wide when well placed. Whilst Javier Mascherano, the pick of the Liverpool players in the first half, saw his long-range strike skim off Gael Givet's head.

But Rovers wouldn't let their heads drop and were given the opportunity to get back on level terms after pressure in the Liverpool box saw a prone Jamie Carragher push the ball away with his hand.

For once referee Alan Wiley gave a decision in Rovers' favour and pointed to the penalty spot.

It was Keith Andrews who took the responsibility of the spot-kick, the Irish international squeezing his effort under Pepe Reina and into the back of the net. It was the least Rovers deserved.

But a minute before the break the home side grabbed an unlikely lead once again. Lucas with a searching ball forward for Torres to chase, but Chris Samba stole in to clear the ball. But Maxi Rodriguez was alive to the situation and kept the ball in play before squaring it back to Torres to score from close range.

The half-time scoreline really didn't reflect what had gone on in the first 45.

In comparison to the first half, the second was slow to get going in terms of attacking chances. A flurry of yellow cards to Rovers players making it a stop-start encounter.

One of those to see yellow, Steven Nzonzi, was perhaps a tad fortunate that the card didn't match the colour of the shirt of Lucas who he had pushed to the ground. He was soon replaced by Vince Grella, as was another player booked, Martin Olsson, with Pascal Chimbonda coming on.

Daniel Agger headed wide for the home side, whilst clever play by Dirk Kuyt saw the Dutchman fire wide acrobatically.

Whilst at the other end excellent hold up play by Niko Kalinić saw him find Diouf who in turn spread play left to Junior Hoilett, but he shot tamely into the arms of Reina.

That would prove to be Hoilett's last involvement as Sam Allardyce made his third change in quick succession, Jason Roberts coming on for the Canadian.

El-Hadji Diouf then became Rovers' fifth player into the book after a late lunge on Mascherano.

Niko Kalinić continued to prove to be a nuisance to the home side. He was deemed to have fouled Reina when challenging for a high ball that may have gone in after the referee's whistle. Then the Croatian got his head to the ball ahead of the Liverpool stopper but both players required treatment for the clash of heads.

Then following more good approach play, Morten Gamst Pedersen stood the ball up for Kalinić in the area, but Reina made a point blank save.

But for all their pressure and pressing Rovers just couldn't fashion that opportunity to grab a deserved leveller.

Just as five additional minutes were being shown on the board Vince Grella had the chance to net his first in Rovers colours. A throw into the area from Pedersen was cleared as far as the Australian, but his side-foot volley flew a couple of yards wide of the far post.

They threw everyone forward for a final push for a leveller, with just Vince Grella, Pascal Chimbonda and Michel Salgado on defensive duties.

Rovers pressed and pressed, a Pedersen free-kick found Samba in the area, but Reina made a stunning save to his left to push the header aside.

It had been one of Rovers' best displays on the road this campaign, but like so many times it went unrewarded.

LIVERPOOL: Reina, Agger, Gerrard (c), Torres (sub Ngog 90 mins), Aurelio (sub Insua 39), Benayoun (sub Babel 81 mins), Rodriguez, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Carragher.

Subs not used: Cavalieri (GK), Aquilani, Kelly, Ayala.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c), Givet, Olsson (sub Chimbonda 51 mins), Hoilett (sub Roberts 64 mins), Andrews, Nzonzi (sub Grella 60 mins), Pedersen, Diouf, Kalinić.

Subs not used: Brown (GK), Emerton, Dunn, Di Santo.

Booked: Lucas (Liverpool), Salgado, Olsson, Nzonzi, Kalinić, Diouf (Rovers)

Attendance: 42,795

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