Liverpool bid goodbye to Europe courtesy missed opportunities at Anfield
To say I was shattered last evening would surely be a case of underplaying my emotions!
My two teams that are more important to me than life itself failed rather miserably to make any sort of mark yesterday.
Yes, the Proteas a.k.a the South African cricket team were ruthlessly annihilated by Pakistan, largely due to the efforts of a certain Babar Azam.
And as I was internalizing this disappointment, a mountain of misery further descended on me, when my beloved Reds were ousted from the Champions League after an uninspiring 0-0 outing at Anfield.
That’s right, Real Madrid’s strong defensive display and excellent goal-keeping to protect the 3-1 score-line from the first leg saw them soar into the semifinals for the 30th time, 10 more than any other team in Europe.
This after I was more than sure that Liverpool will beat the Los Blancos 2-0 at home as I had mentioned in my previous piece.
Truly, I was so wrong!
Words can’t express my dejection on the winless Wednesday as sentimentally speaking I had all but drowned in a sea of sorrow.
So, without further ado, lets dissect our performance in a game that surely should have been more than a 0-0 debacle for the Merseyside Club:
Liverpool start the game with much confidence
In just the 2nd minute, Mohamad Salah almost reduced the 1-3 first leg deficit as the Egyptian was fed with a beautiful cross from Sadio Mane and took the shot at goal albeit straight at keeper Courtois who made a decent save.
Minutes later the Belgian star in the Madrid goal was again more than up to the task in making an excellent diving save this time to keep a James Milner bolt out from just outside the D.
On the opposite end, Madrid created two shots on target in the 20th minute though a goal was not to be found.
In the 42nd minute, the Reds through Salah had another chance to go one up albeit the Egyptian hitting the ball wide.
As the first 45 ended, this half was all about Liverpool’s offensive play amid no goals.
The rock called Thibaut Courtois keeps Reds at bay
A minute into the second half and Liverpool had yet another chance on target as Roberto Firmino’s strike was beautifully smothered away by Courtois.
The Brazilian minutes later had another chance at the Madrid goal albeit this time crushing the shot over.
Los Blancos had their own opportunity to close the game in the 81st minute as Karim Benzema’s header bounced on the top of the Liverpool goal after the unmarked Frenchmen was fed with a mouth-watering cross from Odriozola.
In injury time Courtois one again showed his metal by thwarting Liverpool’s one final play at goal as Salah’s shot was kept out when he was aided by a fine through ball from Thiago who did well to intercept Mendy’s pass.
In truth, the tale of the 90 was Courtois brilliance vs Liverpool’s unrelenting offensive assault with the man from Belgium and the team from Spain having the last hurrah.
The Reds are now freed to only concentrate on a top 4 finish
Despite being shattered by last evening’s sequence of events, a part of me feels, Europe just wasn’t in our destiny and it’s pointless fussing and crying over spilt milk.
Why not see a positive from this misadventure?
That’s right, with the Reds now being all but out of the Champions League, we can have our undivided focus on finishing in the top 4 in England to challenge for the coveted prize in Europe next season.
Yes, I certainly feel we have more than a realistic chance to still finish in the top 4 like I mentioned in one of my earlier pieces. Our remaining games barring the United clash are against lower ranked teams which by God’s blessing and our might we should win.
Also, if West Ham and Chelsea who are on fourth and fifth respectively in the league table, falter and I seriously hope they do, our path to the top 4 will surely be aided from sixth where we sit currently.
Until then let’s trust in our team and continue to support them in unison as ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’