Barca eliminated in Champions League
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
|Goalscorers for Liverpool FC||None|
|Goalscorers for FC Barcelona||Gudjohnsen (75')|
|Bookings (Liverpool FC)||Arbeloa, Sissoko, Pennant, Reina (Yellow (4))|
|Bookings (FC Barcelona)||Thuram (Yellow (1))|
Spanish giants Barcelona bowed out of the Champions League earlier today, even after defeating Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield. Barcelona was up against the wall from the get-go after losing 2-1 in the first leg of the series. Due to the away goals rule (in the event of a tie after both games, the side to score more away goals advances), Barcelona required at at least two goals to advance. Liverpool have been strong at home this season, losing only one domestic league match this season at Anfield to rivals Manchester United. Liverpool featured one of their recent January signings in the match by the way of Alvaro Arbeloa, while Barcelona played their usual lineup including Ronaldinho and Deco.
Though Barca was the desperate team in the match, Liverpool were the more dominant side after the kickoff, as they used the support of their home crowd to boost them. After only 5 minutes, Steve Finnan crossed in a well placed ball to Bellamy, but the Welshman wasn't able to head the ball into the open net. Riise, who scored the winning goal in the first leg, continued to threaten Barcelona with two of his trademark long-range shots. The first flew just wide, and the second was even closer as it hit off the crossbar. Another attack by Liverpool made Barcelona look shaky as Victor Valdes was force into a double save, first off Bellamy, then off Dirk Kuyt. He could get nowhere near a diving header by Riise on the same play, but defender Puyol was able to clear the ball off the line to keep Barcelonas hopes alive. Liverpool would hit the bar again several minutes later, after a poor clearing attempt by Valdes was handed straight to Sissoko, and he was unfortunate to see his first time shot bang off the bar and go safely over the net. In the whole of the first half, Barcelona were not able to stretch Liverpools keeper Jose Reina, as the Reds defence snuffed out all of Barca's offensive talent.
The second half started much as the first did, with Liverpool having a scoring chance within the minute. Captain Steven Gerrard made a run down the right side and crossed the ball into Kuyt, but the Dutchman missed the ball, and Bellamy wasn't expecting the ball to come to him as it flew safely through the area. Jose Reina was finally forced into a save on 50 minutes, but Ronaldinho's long range shot was easy pickings for the Spaniard. Ronaldinho would have another great chance minutes later as he made a quick run, exchange passes with Deco, and twisted past Jamie Carragher, only to see his side footed shot slam off the post. Barcelona continued to push, and a good save by Reina was required to keep youngster Lionel Messi from scoring. Barcelona's coach Frank Rikjarrd decided it was time for some changes and sent Giuly and Gudjohnsen into the mix. Gudjohnsen was used to playing against Liverpool after his years at Chelsea, and seemed to use it to his advantage as he received a pass from Xavi and slotted the ball home to give Barcelona sight of the next round. Ronaldinho then forced a save out of Reina, and Barcelona appeared to have regained their passing game, which caused the home fans to worry. Liverpool still played strongly, and Steven Gerrard was the main point of their inspiration winning a free kick, which was wasted, and then seeing a left footed effort palmed away by Victor Valdes. Liverpool had a chance to equalise in the final minutes, but were not able to convert. The one goal would not be enough for Barcelona however, as Liverpool advances to the next round of the Champions League.
- Graeme Bailey. "Champions Bow out at Anfield" — , March 6, 2007
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