Category Archives: featured

England put up a Sterling show to sink Croatia at Wembley!

England much like the South African cricket teams of the past have been pre-tournament favourites for many albeit for reasons beyond my comprehension always manage to deceive at crucial moments.

Yes, with a momentous showing in the 2018 World Cup, The Three Lions at a time when they were soaring to the finals, somehow came second best to Croatia in the semi-finals.

A decisive moment left England struggling at Moscow as Mario Mandžukić sealed the deal for the East European nation in extra time. English hearts and hearts around the world were broken. Again!

Well, as they say life comes a full circle as a certain measure of revenge was extracted yesterday by The Three Lions as they sank Croatia by a margin of one goal in the opening fixture amid a 22,000 strong Wembley.

The only word missing from the English performance was complete albeit they managed to arrest their opening fixture winless streak in the Euros having drawn five and lost four in their nine previous attempts.

This without having a Manchester United or Liverpool player in the starting XI since almost the start of time! Am sure, you get the picture of the importance these two champion clubs command on English football.

Truth be told, a win is a win at the end of the day and being an English faithful, I was happy with this showing to start on a high as we dissect the English performance in the opening game of Group D:

The Three Lions start brightly only to fizzle out in the first 45

The hosts marched out on the pitch at the home of football with purpose led by their inspirational leader, Harry Kane amid cheers aplenty.

With iconic defender, Harry Maguire still injured and Liverpool’s stalwart midfielder Jordan Henderson on the bench, young Tyrone Mings and Kalvin Phillips started the game.

As the contest began, The Three Lions looked all but up for this as young English sensation, Phil Foden created England’s first opportunity on goal in only the 6th minute when his shot hit the post.

Credit – Reuters

This after the Manchester City midfielder sporting a new blonde hairdo received a majestic pass from club compatriot Raheem Sterling and did well to strike from his favoured left foot.

Croatia were lucky the ball didn’t go in and as they tried to resurrect their defence, three minutes later another English youngster, Kalvin Phillips’s attempt was tipped aside by the Croatian keeper, Livakovic.

Credit – Reuters

The Three Lions looked dominant, aggressive and very close to mounting a first on the score board.

As the game went on Croatia managed to find their feet and gained territory into the English half as the hosts attacking threats were nowhere as lethal as the first nine minutes. In truth, their offensive display looked all but fizzled out as the first 45 drew to a close.

A better showing in the second half was surely the need of the hour as England were desperate to right their opening game voodoo in the European Championship.

The Sterling and Phillips show lights up England in the second 45

As the second 45 began, the voodoo was finally righted courtesy Raheem Sterling and for me more importantly Kalvin Phillips. It’s funny how the builder of an opportunity or rather the contributor vis-à-vis the striker never gets the deserved credit.

Credit – Reuters

Well, the Leeds United man did when in the 56th minute, he made a majestic run to dodge two men and offered a fine pass to Raheem Sterling in the Croatian D who made no mistake in slotting the ball pass Livakovic in the back of the net.

A perfect build up from England’s holding midfielder who in this game played more like an attacking option, put the hosts in front as they exploited the perfect gap in the Croatian defence. The move was simply brilliant and deservedly, so Kalvin Phillips was awarded the player of the match.

This move was enough for an English onslaught resurrection as minutes later Harry Kane missed a chance to put England two to the good as his shot from a Mason Mount cross went high.

England would continue creating more goal scoring opportunities as Chelsea midfielder, Mason Mount hit the ball inches above the post from a free kick in the 66th minute followed by Sterling missing another good opportunity to score.

With no further twists, as the referee called time England came out as the rightful winners in a game where the hosts could have mounted more goals.

Going forward, England need to showcase a more decisive and complete brand of football

The Three Lions need to depict a better showing in the games to follow against Czech Republic and Scotland to anoint themselves as the rightful leaders in this group.

To accomplish this, surely a 1-0 score line is not going to suffice as a more decisive and complete brand of football is the need of the hour with goals aplenty. Creating opportunities is one thing but converting them is also of vital essence where the hosts in this game were found lacking.

When The Three Lions proceed to the next round to face the likes of Portugal, France, Belgium and others, they will need to convert every opportunity to beat these European powerhouses.

Having said this, it’s just the opening game and an improved showing from the hosts will surely follow.

Go on my Three Lions, Europe awaits the might of your roar!

An important Kieffer Moore header, saves Wales’ blushes in Baku!

After an unprecedented 15 months of the pandemic running or should I say ruining our lives, a four-letter word has brought the much-needed ointment on our long-hurting wound.

This four-letter word is Euro.

Yes, the first international football tournament amid the pandemic has finally set sail, albeit delayed by a year.

On Friday night, The Euro 2020 or should I say 2021, got underway in Rome with Italy hammering Turkey, 3-0 amid a sea of ecstatic Azzurri supporters.

Contrasting emotions of relief and excitement engulfed me to finally see the top nations in Europe battle it out to become the undisputed kings of this continent. This was a delight for every fan who loves international football.

When we talk about international football, we all have our favourites and a second nation too that we support despite being located in any corner of the globe. That’s precisely the reason they say football has the power to bring people together, regardless of their age, race, gender, culture, or nationality.

Well for me being an Indian, I am a die-hard fan of England, followed by a strong sense of liking for their neighbours, Wales.

Yes, Wales is my second favourite team as I tuned in yesterday with much expectation to see The Dragons lock horns with Switzerland in their opening contest amid 10,000 fans at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

In truth, I was much relieved with the final 1-1 result as despite the Swiss domination, The Welsh had managed to secure the vital point. Needless to say, I would have expected nothing less than a Wales victory with a team boasting the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and others. After all, they were the semi-finalists in 2016.

So, without further ado, lets dissect this contest, as the two West European nations battled it out in the second game of Group A:

Swiss dominate the first 45

The Dragons, under caretaker Manager Rob Page in the absence of the regular coach Ryan Giggs, started the contest brightly. In just the 15th minute, Kieffer Moore’s header was punched merely inches above the post by the Swiss goalkeeper, Yan Sommer who leaped at the right time to make the crucial save.

Credit – Reuters

That was the only chance of any prominence the Welsh would conjure in the first half, as Switzerland took control of the game. This Swiss created eighteen chances, with four being clear opportunities to score.

Fabian Schar almost put the Swiss in front in the 20th minute with a terrific backheel that was saved in the nick of time by keeper, Danny Ward. Switzerland’s second opportunity came just before halftime, as their number 9, Seferovic, hit the ball marginally high.

As the referee called time on the first 45, Wales were lucky not to be a goal down.

Moore more than saves the day for Wales

Luck would finally run out for Wales as the second half got underway, when in just the 49th minute, Swiss number 7, Breel Embolo made no mistake slotting a header into the left corner of the Welsh goal from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner.

Credit – Reuters

Switzerland all but deserved this lead for the relentless attacking brand of football they displayed.

The equaliser for The Dragons would come in the 74th minute, as Kieffer Moore guided a Joe Morell shot towards the Swiss goal with an adept header. The Cardiff City striker did well to overpower the Swiss defence to convert this opportunity.

Credit – Getty

Switzerland continued their offensive onslaught for the rest of the half, managing a second goal albeit VAR ruled it otherwise as Gavranovic was adjudged offside.

As the 90 ended, I like many Welsh supporters was more than relieved as The Dragons salvaged a point in a game that was all of Switzerland’s to win.

Wales have to feast on Turkey in their next game

If Wales harbour any ambitions of proceeding to the next round, draws surely are not the need of the hour.

The Dragons need to put wins under their belt to showcase the steel that got them to the semi-finals of the 2016 edition. Inspirational leader Gareth Bale surely needs to do more to have a nice Turkish feast in their next game as the Welsh lock horns with this East European nation.

Nothing less than a victory will suffice for The Men in Red against Turkey as their last group game against Italy in their own backyard would be a big mountain to climb.

So, go on Men in Red, show us an inspirational performance in your next outing. Soar to heights unparalleled as has another Reds outfit in achieving a Champions League spot despite being in the pits of adversity in the last edition of The Premier League.

Yes Wales, you need to do a Liverpool!

Everybody at Sportlight would like to wish Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen all the best with his recovery following his collapse on the pitch against Finland yesterday.

Top 10 Memes of the 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

It’s only been on the calendar for 5 years and 4 races (Thank you Coronavirus) but the race on the coast of the Caspian sea has quickly become an instant classic. While not delivering an entirely consistent spectacle to the racing, usually resulting in a lull towards the middle of the race, it always delivers a unique and interesting challenge for the drivers, which is excellent for us.

What looked like a commanding race for the rampant Red Bulls was turned on its head after some tyre trouble and a 3-lap sprint to the end left us all out of breath. Another twist in this championship’s story where a certain knight might rue the mistakes made.

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Posted on Reddit by realee420

We’ve put this at the start to get it out the way.

The face of this (admittedly very well placed and fortunate) fan, coupled with a perfect camera angle led to the high point of hilarity during the entire Grand Prix.

READ MORE – F1 2021 AZERBAIJAN GP QUALIFYING REPORT: LECLERC ACHIEVES REDEMPTION BY CLAIMING POLE IN BAKU

2

Posted on Reddit by xleonfwx

It was a day for drivers who moved teams for the most part. Given a few races to get up to speed and they were topping the race positions. They even managed to make it through to the podium during the chaos.

3

Posted on Reddit by Lewh30

Speaking of, we’ve often bemoaned the fall from grace of a man once called the next Schumacher while at his very best.

Ever since Germany 2018 for a variety of reasons, he’s struggled but we hope we’re not wrong saying that Seb is back.

4

Posted on Reddit by mzrcefo1782

We’ve all been there. You’re bringing some shopping around the supermarket and the trolley that seemed fine out of the trolley park loses all composure when you’re all loaded up with the big shop. It must have wheels from Pirelli.

Initially it could have been cuts in Stroll’s tyre, but more than one failure always raises eyebrows and points fingers. Whether the accusations are accurate or not, Pirelli’s form is less than stellar and they’ll always be scrutinised as a result.

READ MORE – F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: FORMULA 1 PRODUCES STUNNER IN BAKU

5

Posted on Reddit by goyo-lake

Given the nature and severity of both tyre related accidents along the main straight, Red Bull’s decision to share the sudden nature and advocate for a red flag is to be commended.

To try and help give all teams an opportunity to take a safer course of action, potentially at the expense of their own results is magnanimity to the highest degree.

6

Posted on Reddit by TugoMoray

Hey, a new meme format, hot off the presses. Don’t see that every day, do we?

Either way, it works perfectly for the scenario, the Pirelli hards not making it anywhere near what they were meant to, ending his race and almost gifting a massive championship lead to Max’s rival Lewis.

7

Posted on Reddit by fatcat_666

As we’ve said previously, Pirelli’s numerous tyre failure issues in the past (2013, 2015, 2017 and 2020 come to mind) don’t exactly make its explanations more believable when issues such as these come up.

Regardless of cause, Pirelli have some explaining to do.

READ MORE – F1 2021 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX: FP1 & FP2 REPORT – RED BULL DOMINATES AS MERCEDES ARE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN

8

Posted on Reddit by its-foxtale

After all the tyre related drama, it looked all set for Hamilton to play it relatively safe while his championship rival would be held to 0 points.

Reality however had other ideas.

9

Posted on Reddit by aw5512

After almost 2 years of Red Bull not having the second driver available to pressure Mercedes, it must have been refreshing to take the fight to them with a tactical advantage.

It’s just a pity they couldn’t complete a great weekend with a 1-2 win not seen at Milton Keynes for a long, long while.

10

Posted on Reddit by ziddharthh

As alluded to before, Mercedes really didn’t have a second driver as Bottas had a nightmare of a weekend again. He still finished ahead of Lewys Hamilton, for what that’s worth.

France needs to be the Finn’s return to form if he’s to keep his head in the frame for a contract extension.

Another year, another Well Done Baku. Of all the tracks within the street circuit offensive F1 has seemed to be on during Liberty’s time at the reigns. We get it, it’s easier to monetise and attract spectators for an F1 race through a city centre rather than a small village where it rains a lot. Speaking of small villages, Le Castellet in France, home to Paul Ricard. We’ll be back in 2 weeks time to find humour in the world’s largest kaleidoscope.

Grid Talk Podcast

Owing to travel restrictions and coronavirus, why not fill the gap left by Canada with our podcast. The Grid Talk crew produce a preview, qualifying analysis show and race review for every Grand Prix weekend. You can check out the latest show on our Podcast section.

IN THE PIT LANE – NICOLAS TODT PLAYS THE LONG GAME

F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: FORMULA 1 PRODUCES STUNNER IN BAKU

F1 2021 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX: FP1 & FP2 REPORT – RED BULL DOMINATES AS MERCEDES ARE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN

F1 2021 AZERBAIJAN GP QUALIFYING REPORT: LECLERC ACHIEVES REDEMPTION BY CLAIMING POLE IN BAKU

Elated Chelsea paint Porto blue amid a second Champions League conquest

If you are Thomas Tuchel, your second successive trip to Portugal for a European final has surely been worth it.

On 23rd August of last year, the German found himself on the losing side as the Manager of Paris Saint Germain, when the French powerhouse was humbled 1-0 by Germany’s might, Bayern Munich.

Not a happy space to be in!

Well, as they say life comes a full circle and it certainly did for Tuchel in the same country last night as his Chelsea got the better of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 1-0. Deservedly so!

Alas, not so much for Pep and his men who were more than up for a treble this season. Having already conquered The Premier League and The Carabao Cup, The Sky Blues were looking for their maiden European title to add the much-deserved sheen on their fast filling trophy cabinet.

Truth be told, my heart goes out to Manchester as the city in a matter of days has seen two dark clouds pour drops of misery aplenty. The Europa Cup and the Champions League which were pinned to come to this English town, unfortunately went elsewhere.

Thankfully at least the latter stayed in England, as Manchester’s loss was West London’s gain. Yes, The Blues repeated their triumph nine years to date when they conquered Bayern Munich in their own backyard in the 2011-12 edition.

So, without further ado lets dissect this all English final amid a sea of 16,500 fans as Tuchel reigned supreme on Pep for a third successive occasion this season.

Havertz hurrah, the difference maker in the first 45

As the Estádio do Dragão opened its shores to welcome the might of English football, both the outfits looked more than ready for the all-important final.

City made the first play when Raheem Sterling came agonizingly close to open the scoring as he was fed with a brilliant long ball from keeper Ederson. Unfortunately, the English striker couldn’t make the finish as he was forced wide by Blues’ defender Reece James.

Minutes later Chelsea would have a chance of their own to go one up as Kai Havertz laid a beautiful pass to his German team mate, Timo Werner who while attempting to score got the ball stuck in his feet but still managed a shot which was comfortably pouched by Ederson.

As time went on, they were punches and counter punches thrown by both the teams albeit the score line was yet to be disturbed.

The Blues would finally have one in the 42nd minute as Kai Havertz made a majestic run to reach Mason Mount’s through ball to beat keeper Ederson who managed a finger on the ball. The Brazilian’s effort would fall short as the Chelsea man superbly slid the ball in the back of the City net.

A breath-taking effort from the German to register his first goal on the grandest stage of European football. Tuchel was ecstatic and so were the sea of royal blue fans behind him.

As the referee called time on the first 45, Chelsea had the vital lead with City having all to do.

A maiden European title dream shatters for City in the second half

As the second half got underway, Pep and his Manchester City faced their most decisive 45 minutes that stood between a maiden European triumph or dreaded dejection.

Well, desperation to score was the need of the hour and City came close in the 67th minute as Riyad Mahrez curled a great cross for the waiting Jesus in the Chelsea D before The Blues captain, Azpilicueta brilliantly deflected the ball over the cross bar.

City’s anguish was soaring with every passing minute.

Action though would happen at the other end.

Amid Manchester City’s offensive onslaught, Chelsea almost doubled their lead, when in the 73rd minute goal scorer Havertz made another brilliant run towards the City D, threading the ball to a waiting Christian Pulisic who chipped the ball over Ederson as it went inches wide of the post.

As the clock kept ticking, City were rolling towards more desperation to avoid depression.

Six minutes before the full 90, City’s stalwart Sergio Aguero was also unsuccessful in getting the equaliser in his last match for the club as he curled an effort straight at keeper Mendy.

In the seven added minutes to the second half, Manchester City all but tried though were just not capable to find the equaliser.

As time was called on the game, there was a blue celebration all-right, the only difference was in the colour. Royal Blue had conquered the Sky Blue.

Are English teams finally shining amongst Europe’s elite?

Well, my answer is a resounding yes!

With two Champions League titles in three years coming to England, it definitely shows their domination in Europe.

Liverpool in the 2018-19 season triumphing over Tottenham Hotspur and now Chelsea getting the better of Manchester City.

What furthers my belief is both these finals were all English which certainly is testament to the depth and passion shown by the best in The Premier League to become numero uno in Europe.

Spain, Germany, France and Italy, do take note, as with the spark English football has shown off late, may be, The Champions League in the near future could become extinct for you!

Well, who knows, anything is possible.

As for now, Londoners have much to celebrate having conquered the virus and yes of course Europe too!

Top 10 Memes of the 2021 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco has, can and does produce exciting races. Sometimes, and usually with help of rain or a safety car. Other times, you’re left as a viewer hoping for a burst water main at the Casino to spice up the racing and bring out some wet tyres at the very least.

Alas, the full 78 laps passed this year with not one hint of a stoppage as the drivers were all alarmingly well behaved (Perhaps under orders not to break the car in case of budget cap issues). Therefore it was a surprise to see the teams doing all the breaking.

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Posted on Reddit by Filonji

It’s Monaco, so this is absolutely no surprise to anyone whose seen something 2m wide go down normal streets. Add to that the fact that the barriers add the chance of being fired into the next barrier and with cars that can’t follow, this spectacle was almost guaranteed.

At least we got to see some great drivers in the points right?…Right???

READ MORE – F1 2021 MONACO GRAND PRIX: HEARTBREAK FOR LECLERC AS VERSTAPPEN TAKES CHARGE

2

Posted on Reddit by 2polew

The Mercedes doesn’t like to follow, Hamilton struggled to get going all weekend and as mentioned previously, it’s Monaco.

Hamilton would have got very acquainted with the rear of the Alpha Tauri running on the power of dreams as Mercedes had a nightmare.

3

Posted on Reddit by le-sparrow

Those of us old enough to remember Hamilton’s less successful years (Yes, us young millennials are the ones who put this together Zoomers)

Will know all about the whinging that can come from the 7-time champion. The counterpoint to that is Valtteri getting a freak failure we’ve never seen before when he actually has a handle on Lewis. The Finn must be questioning what exactly is going on, because as even  the Knight of F1 once said when the dice never seemed to roll his way in 2014, “It’s getting beyond a joke”.

4

Posted on Reddit by ifthetiefitz

This meme isn’t entirely wrong in their assessment, initially there was a whole host of interesting things happening in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Those things just ended after the pit stops. Leclerc’s drivetrain issues meant he didn’t start, opening up a run for Bottas on Max. Hamilton would have to fight through the pack and Bottas could have taken some fight to Red Bull.

After Lap 30 or so though, we were doing the dishes and wondering when Indy Qualifying was on. At least the championship is back on again.

READ MORE – F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIN AND THIRSTY ENGINES CAUSE CHAOTIC END TO MONACO GP

5

Posted on Reddit by The-Protractor-Cult

First off for this, the disclaimers. TV directing, particularly live, is difficult to do well with good timing and queuing up footage when you don’t think anything interesting will happen a few seconds in advance is also difficult and at times things may go wrong.

That now out of the way.

What the hell were they thinking by cutting away from the only bloody interesting thing to see all afternoon? Criminal.

6

Posted on Reddit by Baltic_Gunner

Given the expected outcome when the post-race interviews were being decided, it would be a fair assumption Hamilton’s friend, incomparable Tennis champion Serena Williams, would be knocked off her stride as we all were not seeing him anywhere near the podium.

7

Posted on Reddit by UncomfortableBench

It often seems insane that a finely tuned race team operation can be completely undone by a part that simply refuses to do just that.

All that expense and the hardware provided in flat pack furniture seems more reliable. F1 however is a sport where grams saved make seconds and given the balance of probabilities, a lighter thread on a wheelnut is worth the times it’s actually going to fail when it matters. On this occasion, it just collapsed the possibility of a win for Mercedes.

READ MORE – F1 2021 MONACO GRAND PRIX PREVIEW: WHO WILL MASTER THE STREETS OF THE PRINCIPALITY?

8

Posted on Reddit by Epicd2000

We’ve given this particular issue a Ferrari Mechanic’s look thus far, but whoever was weighing up which option to take for Sunday needs retraining in basic risk.

Ferrari sacrificed a guaranteed 6th place start with room for improvement for the possibility of pole. As much as that matters around the principality, does it really justify taking such a large risk. It really has been too long for a win at Ferrari.

9

Posted on Reddit by Bananozaurek

There’s been a whole lot of criticism and negativity in this piece so far, so to take us home let’s add in the wholesome addition of two former team-mates who genuinely seemed elated to see each other do well. It’s not a sight seen often in the F1 paddock such is the competition, but it’s most refreshing when it appears. Absolutely brilliant, I love it.

10

Posted on Reddit by jocim

Given how he could have reacted, going home or off to have an ice cream on his yacht for example, Charles Leclerc as always distinguished himself, going back to both celebrate the podium with the team and then congratulate Carlos.

Many drivers wouldn’t have done close to that and don’t get distinguished praise as a class act like the Monegasque. Brilliant to see.

Thank goodness the spectacle of a Monaco Sunday in May has come and gone. As much as Monaco must stay on the calendar, it’s not exactly a secret it doesn’t usually set the world alight in action. Moving swiftly on as a good few drivers are want to do at this point, from the Cote d’Azur to the Caspian Sea and the streets of Baku. It’s Azerbaijan up next and we simply cannot wait.

Grid Talk Podcast

Given the boredom that came with that jaunt to the principality, we should have suggested this before, but why not take a look at the podcast in the meantime. The Grid Talk crew produce a preview, qualifying analysis show and race review for every Grand Prix weekend. You can check out the latest show on our Podcast section.

F1 2021 MONACO GRAND PRIX: HEARTBREAK FOR LECLERC AS VERSTAPPEN TAKES CHARGE

F1 2021 MONACO GP QUALIFYING REPORT: LECLERC STARTS HOME RACE FROM POLE!

F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIN AND THIRSTY ENGINES CAUSE CHAOTIC END TO MONACO GP

F1 2021 MONACO GRAND PRIX PREVIEW: WHO WILL MASTER THE STREETS OF THE PRINCIPALITY?

Majestic Mane scores as a jubilant Anfield roars. Liverpool claim their territory amongst Europe’s elite.

What’s a journey without obstacles?

Well, definitely not a thrilling one. Ask Jurgen Klopp and he will vehemently agree.

Injuries, loss of form, Super League distractions, Liverpool were all but challenged with obstacles galore this season.

Yet despite being faced with adversity that every obstacle orchestrated, The Reds came out stronger each time and never lost sight of the eventual goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, a spot in the 2021-22 Champions League.

Its no surprise, some detractors would have felt there was a time not too long back, Liverpool were in shambles and stood at a point of not even making it to Europa, let alone The Champions League.

In truth I was one among them, but guess what, The Merseyside Club have overcome criticism, lack of form and injuries to rightfully be where they belong, playing amongst the European elite.

This after securing a whopping 26 points from the available 30 in the last ten games, winning eight and drawing two.

Yes, let that sink in!

The latest and last conquest of the season being Crystal Palace, who were beaten 2-0 in front of 10,000 Kopites who flocked Anfield to support Liverpool’s march into Europe.

A brace from Sadio Mane was the key ingredient for the perfect recipe that saw The Reds in their new crimson red jersey get the better of The Eagles on an eighth successive occasion.

So, as Europe is now our calling, lets dive into this historical evening that saw a rampaging performance from The Reds:

An attacking first 45 sees both teams go at it

Liverpool started the game knowing nothing less than a win would see them play European top-flight football next season. They had to be ready.

Well, against expectation the readiness came from the opposite end as Crystal Palace made the first move of the game. Yes, in the 6th minute Andros Townsend curled a free kick over the far top corner as Alisson had to backtrack to tip it over the crossbar.

Liverpool were saved early.

Moments later, Townsend seized on another opportunity, asserting towards the Liverpool goal with his shot going inches wide.

The Reds had to score to stay relevant for Europe, though as things stood, The Eagles looked the more likely side to draw first blood.

I was flabbergasted!

After the initial scare, normalcy would return as The Reds started mounting attacks with Salah hitting his first shot wide.

In the 19th minute, Liverpool almost opened the scoring as Rhys Williams’s header went just inches above the post after the Englishman made no mistake in latching onto Andrew Robertson’s corner.

The Reds would continue to attack as Salah and Robertson created more chances albeit the goal was still not to be found.

Credit – Reuters

As they say hard work has to pay-off and so it did when The Merseyside Club finally got their first in the 36th minute courtesy Sadio Mane who scrambled a Robertson cross in the back of the Crystal Palace net.

Wasn’t pretty but who cared, till the time Liverpool were well on their way to Europe.

With no further drama, the first half drew to a close.

Liverpool dominate the second half

When other matches also have a consequence on your team’s fortunes, its not the best space to be in.

Yes, was more than keeping a track on what Leicester and Chelsea were up to, and in truth was hoping we could get a second to keep all external forces at bay!

Well, thousand of miles away, The Reds would pay heed to my call.

Liverpool would dominate the second half and the second goal to seal the deal would come in the 74th minute as Salah made the run to the Palace D and fed a mouth-watering pass to an open Mane who made no mistake in slotting it in.

Credit – Reuters

The brace from the Senegalese had all but confirmed Liverpool’s chances to play European top-flight football.

Jurgen Klopp was ecstatic, so was a jubilant Anfield and most importantly so was I.

The seemingly impossible had just been done!

Liverpool had secured the number three position in the league table as a place in the Champions League 2021-22 was more than assured.

So long Gini!

Yes, one of Liverpool’s most reliable, versatile and resourceful midfielders has decided to make the long walk into the setting sun.

Credit – Reuters

No, Georginio Wijnaldum is not retiring from club football, but leaving Anfield after spending five magical years with Liverpool, winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

Respect to the complete team man who selflessly and untiringly always put the team first in every endeavor he undertook with captaining his side to victory in yesterday’s game, his last outing for The Reds.

Once the European debate was all but settled in the 90, it was so heartwarming to see this dedicated Dutchman get a rising ovation from the Anfield crowd and a guard of honour from his team mates. Emotions soared and rightfully so!

A well-deserved tribute paid to the hardworking and loyal servant for Liverpool.

So long Gini, you truly will be missed!

As I end this article, the last for the season, in this journey filled with obstacles, a team extraordinaire has overcome them all to inspire millions as we bask in the glory amid expectations galore for times to come.

 ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Phenomenal Liverpool put Burnley to the Sword to march into the top 4!

Liverpool 2 – 0 Southampton

Manchester United 2 – 4 Liverpool

West Brom 1 – 2 Liverpool

Burnley 0 – 3 Liverpool

Talk about peaking at the right time and making it count when it matters.

The mighty Reds have certainly done that with four victories in their last four outings as they marched into the top 4 last evening, overtaking Leicester City.

An achievement worthy of every praise!

In truth, the performance on display from Liverpool in the last few games reminds me of the champions last season for whom losing was akin to making a carnivore build an appetite for grass. Simply non-existent.

Yes, such has been their desire to cement a place in elite European football with the latest showing against Burnley at Turf Moor amid some spectators’ being more than just a spectacle. It was their sheer determination to succeed at all costs.

So as Liverpool conquered yet another team in The Clarets, lets dissect this fruitful evening for every Kopite:

An attack-minded Liverpool finds a hero in Roberto Firmino

The Reds were on the offensive from the word go. In just the 3rd minute, they almost opened the scoring through Sadio Mane who unfortunately slid the ball wide after being fed with a brilliant cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Minutes later, Roberto Firmino skewed one wide as well after he was given a brilliant backheel pass from Mane. Liverpool were building ever so close to registering on the score sheet.

At the opposite end, Burnley would have their first big chance of the game in the 26th minute when Lowton played a wonderful long ball for Wood who shot the ball wide of the Liverpool goal.

Thiago and Salah also came close albeit the all-important goal still deserted The Reds.

Credit – Reuters

As the clock was ticking towards the close of the first 45, an alert Bobby Firmino would finally put Liverpool in front as he made no mistake in converting a mouth-watering pass from Andrew Robertson. I was so glad for my team and more importantly for Bobby who finally had found some goal scoring form with a brace against Manchester United and now this one. A much-needed end to his dearth of goals.

The half-time score read Burnley 0 – 1 Liverpool.

Phillips and Chamberlain escalate Burnley’s plight

Minutes into the second 45 and Liverpool would go two to the good, this time through Nat Phillips who scored his maiden goal for the club with an excellent header after he was fed with a more than apt cross from Mane.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

Burnley with this brace were deflated. Little did they know then; their plight would be escalated further.

Before that would happen, The Clarets managed another attempt on the Liverpool goal through a hard header which was saved by the tightest of margins from their maiden goal scorer Phillips on the goal line. The Reds were lucky not to concede.

As was the case in the first half, minutes before the close, Liverpool would seal the game with a third from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who dribbled past Taylor, wrongfooting the Burnley defender twice and drilled a low short past keeper Norris at his near post.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

The Clarets were all but out of the contest with this third bolt as the referee called time.

Liverpool had earned a well-deserved 3-0 win, boosting their goal difference knowing this would be key ammunition in their qualification arsenal come the final matchday.

An enthralling final matchday awaits

The excitement in the Premier League never ceases to amaze me. On the last matchday come this Sunday, we still only have two sureties for the Champions League from Manchester.

Three sides in Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester are battling it out for the bottom two spots in the top 4.

Anything is possible, though Chelsea are best placed among the three with a second shot to qualify for Europe if they win the Champions League this season. Yes, need I remind you they are contesting the final against Manchester City.

For a neutral, does it get more enthralling? I surely think not.

Having said this, if you’re a Reds fan, the task at hand is win against Crystal Palace amid a sea of cheering Kopites at Anfield and hope either Leicester falter against Tottenham or Chelsea against Aston Villa. The former seems a bigger possibility as the Lilly Whites have big motivation to play in Europa come the next season.

As simple as that to have an equation totally in our control avoiding unnecessary bothers like goal difference.

Well, as a die-hard Liverpool fan, I believe with much positivity European football next season will be ours to conquer.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Awesome Alisson rescues Liverpool with a historic header. European dream lives on!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Liverpool have certainly been faced with desperate times, needing an all-important winner against West Brom yesterday, to stay relevant for European top-flight football next season.

Salah, Firmino, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold and Thiago all tried, albeit as was the will of God, an unlikely hero surfaced to keep The Reds’ European dream alive. That’s right, the desperate measure was our Brazilian Dark Knight, Alisson Becker.

When the going got tough, Alisson got going and reached the opposition D to head in a historic winner seconds before the close. The first goal ever scored by a Liverpool keeper in the club’s 129-year history.

So momentous is this feat as the Brazilian joined a rare and rather esteemed club of only five keepers in the history of the Premier League who have inflicted a goal on their opposition.

Truly, awe-inspiring as The Reds in the most unique fashion scripted a much-needed win with the final score line – West Brom 1 – 2 Liverpool.

So, as my heart beats with excitement let’s dissect the game that had the most thrilling climax seen in the recent past:

Spoils shared in the first 45

Before this game began, The Baggies were already in the relegation zone, but the intensity they showed suggested otherwise.

Fifteen minutes in and Robson-Kanu put the home side in front. The Welshman burst down the right channel and reached Pereira’s pass to calmly slot the ball past Alisson in the far bottom corner.

Credit – Reuters

Make no mistake, West Brom were more than up for this contest as Liverpool were rocked early.

Post the goal, Albion beefed up their defence to put more pressure on The Reds’ offensive play with six players guarding their territory. The challenge to break West Brom’s stringent defence was tough.

Well, when tough is the scenario, who other than Liverpool’s magician can make the play? Mohamed Salah slotted one in when Liverpool took a free-kick quickly, as Sadio Mane laid off a pass to the Egyptian just outside the D.

Salah’s curl in the top far left of the net was more than clinical as 33 minutes in, the score was level at one apiece.

Credit – Reuters

The Egyptian stood level with Tottenham star, Harry Kane at 22 goals each in the race for the golden boot.

The spoils were shared as the curtains drew on the first 45.

Alisson Becker, Liverpool’s unlikely hero

The second 45 was about Liverpool’s offensive threats and West Brom’s counter set pieces. Practically every Reds player tried to get the all-important winner albeit as destiny would have it they were all kept at bay.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago came closest to putting The Reds in front with Albion’s keeper Johnstone more than being up to the task. As time moved on and the finish was fast approaching, my heart rate went up by leaps and bounds to not see the much-needed winner. Yet!

The situation was tense as Liverpool’s hope of the European dream were fast fading. The final 90 drew to a close and the referee signaled for five added minutes. The Reds still hadn’t found the answer.

As the clock struck the fifth minute of injury time, The Merseyside Club won their last corner of the match. A do or die situation as the Gods of Europe looked down on The Midlands. Such was the desperation that keeper Alisson Becker also came in the West Brom D to try his luck.

Trent Alexander-Arnold fired the cross and a person in a black shirt rose amid a sea of players to fire a header that went in the back of the Albion net.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

For a moment, I was spell-bound and didn’t know what had happened till I realised, the players in red had gathered around this person in black and were celebrating in unison. Alisson Becker had scored to win it for Liverpool, momentous as it was, tears of joy poured down my eyes.

The feeling was simply wow!

The European dream gets ever closer

Thanks to the injury time win yesterday, our European dream is now just two games away.

It is important we keep our focus on winning against Burnley and Crystal Palace and hope one of Chelsea or Leicester will falter as they play each other next.

My Dear Reds, just keep the next wins more certain than dragging it to the last minute. Sensitive hearts can’t take too much pounding.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

The Foxes outfox Chelsea to win their maiden FA Cup title

When you have the will to succeed, failing is never an option!

Ask Youri Tielemans and Kasper Schmeichel, the two pillars key to Leicester City’s maiden FA Cup triumph and they will say a resounding yes.

After a wait of 52 years amid the last of the four finals of misfortune and a history going back to 137 years, Brendan Rodgers’ team nailed the unconquerable and more importantly made ‘impossible’ just a word by finally bringing home the oldest trophy in English football.

Yes, Chelsea were conquered 1 nil.

Leicester’s long-awaited hurrah amid wallowing in the desolation of four previous attempts was much akin to Batman a.k.a Bruce Wayne finally climbing out of Bane’s pit of slow-death despite repeated efforts resulting in a lonely walk into the setting sun.

But make no mistake when the sun sets, it has to rise again and so did the fortunes of the Bat and The Foxes.

All one needs is their mind and heart to be in the right place!

Well, The Foxes certainly had that in front of 22,000 fans filling the mecca of English football, Wembley. The highest turnout since the inception of the pandemic.

So, without further ado lets dissect this match as polar opposite emotions engulfed the two camps of blue:

A first half of chances aplenty amid no goals

Chelsea entered the final hoping to win their ninth FA cup after being part of four out of the last five finals, coming up second best to Arsenal last year.

Well, they surely started with much intent creating their first opportunity in less than a minute after Timo Werner got a rather simple save out of The Foxes keeper, Kasper Schmeichel.

Credit – Getty Images

Fifteen minutes later, Leicester had an attempt of their own when Jamie Vardy fired a shot on target and his attempt was blocked by Blues’ defender Reece James.

In the 23rd minute, Chelsea’s rising sensation Mason Mount was in the thick of things hitting a shot that took a deflection off a Leicester play to earn the Blues a corner that was comfortably grabbed by Schmeichel in his first attempt.

Timo Werner minutes before the end of the first 45, came really close to opening the scoring yet again albeit his attempt being deflected wide for a corner which unfortunately resulted in nothing.

Surely chances were being created albeit the all-important goal was nowhere in sight.

Tielemans and Schmeichel, the heroes in the second 45

Fifty-Three minutes in and Chelsea had yet another chance on goal, with Marcus Alonso’s header being comfortably grabbed by Schmeichel.

Truly whatever Chelsea threw at the Leicester captain, he was more than up to the task though the mountain of difficulty was yet to come.

Well before that would happen, Youri Tielemans showed why he is one of the most prized possessions for The Foxes as the Belgian fired a stunning long-range effort that ripped into the top-left corner of the Chelsea net giving keeper Kepa absolutely no chance.

Credit – Getty Images

Sixty-Three minutes in, Leicester led Chelsea 1-0.

Leicester and Schmeichel’s mountain of difficulty would start in the 78th minute when the Danish would make his first extraordinary save of the match as he dived to keep Ben Chilwell’s header out with just his fingertips.

Minutes later his second effort of mammoth proportions would again save the day for The Foxes as captain courageous this time dived the other way to keep a bolt from Mason Mount at bay.

Minutes before the close, after repeated attempts of not being able to beat the Danish wall in the Leicester goal, Chelsea finally equalised or they thought they did as Chilwell’s effort found the back of The Foxes net albeit VAR ruling the Englishman and ex Leicester defender off-side by the tightest of margins.

The result was a no goal and this was just the luck Leicester needed as the full-time whistle blew and the FA trophy was theirs to hoist amid a sea of emotions galore.

Truly a momentous occasion for a brave English club.

A proud Leicester might have more to celebrate in the coming week

The Premier League winners in 2015-16 under the brilliant Claudio Ranieri

The all elusive FA Cup conquered in 2021 with the gritty Brendan Rodgers at the helm.

In the coming week, European celebrations might take shape with more than a chance to seal a Champions League berth after a wait of 5 long years.

If these accolades won’t make a team proud, one truly wonders what would?

I salute this team that believes in never giving up, never surrendering, always fighting till the end, possibly that’s why their fans say ‘Foxes Never Quit’!

Well done Leicester, you truly are a beacon of light in English football!

First the fans, now Liverpool – Old Trafford’s storm of misery continues!

It’s been almost two weeks to this day that a group of United loyalists had taken Old Trafford under siege, wrecking a storm of misery on the spiritual home of football in Manchester.

The result, the game against their fiercest rivals, Liverpool was postponed.

Well, the fixture that epitomizes English football finally got underway yesterday as Old Trafford’s storm of misery soared further, this time by a splendid, determined and clinical performance by The Reds.

A performance akin to a sage finding salvation!

Yes, that’s right, Liverpool not only beat United yesterday but created the perfect emotional storm of inflicting mayhem in the hearts of every Manchester United supporter with a whopping 4-2 score line.

You read that right, 4-2!

A more gratifying statistic though for me was with this unfavourable result, The Red Devils’ enviable record of losing just one game in the last fifteen against Liverpool at home suffered a massive dent.

Possibly one to their mammoth ego too!

So, as The Merseyside Club further cemented their claim on a top 4 finish, lets dissect this rather calamitous night if you’re a United fan:

Roberto Firmino, the difference maker in the first 45

Manchester United were the brighter of the two teams as the contest began with Edinson Cavani pouncing on a poor pass out of the box by keeper Alisson albeit hitting it wide.

Moments later, The Red Devils would go one to the good when their Portuguese midfielder, Bruno Fernandes fired a shot which took a deflection off Liverpool’s Nat Philips to go right in.

Liverpool’s moment of misfortune resulted in United’s moment of magic.

Twenty-Seven minutes in, Phillips almost made amends for his earlier debacle when he was brought down by Bailly inside the United D with the referee pointing to the spot. After checking on the pitch side monitor through VAR consultation, he reversed his decision.

This was the motivation Liverpool needed as they started an offensive onslaught with Diogo Jota coming extremely close to equalize minutes later.

Credit – Reuters

The goal would finally come for The Reds when in the 34th minute, Jota backheeled the ball that beat keeper Henderson to go straight into the United goal. This after Phillips was the architect beating two defenders and going for goal, though the ball went towards the Portuguese forward who pounced on the opportunity to draw Liverpool level.

The Merseyside Club would score another as their Brazilian man, Bobby Firmino finally registered his name on the scoring sheet in injury time showing no mercy on the Red Devils after he headed a fine cross from Trent Alexander Arnold in the United net.

Credit – Reuters

The score at half-time read Manchester United 1 – 2 Liverpool

Polar opposite emotions, one red with anger, the other red with joy!

Mohamed Salah seals the deal for The Reds

As the second half began, Bobby would have his brace as he capitalized on a rebound off Dean Henderson after the United keeper saved Alexander Arnold’s first effort.

Liverpool were over the moon with a two-goal cushion.

Moments later The Reds almost went three to the good, as Diogo Jota’s effort hit the post. United were spared the blushes.

The tale of twists would continue as Marcus Rashford, the star of English football reduced the deficit in the 68th minute after he made no mistake, slotting in a majestic pass from Cavani.

The margin had reduced to 3-2. The United supporters thought they had a chance.

Well, just before the final whistle, my moment of true delight would come as the dream, the chance, the opportunity that every United supporter felt they had was ruthlessly shattered by the best Liverpool has to offer, a man called Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian made a magnificent run from midfield after United lost the ball to truly seal the deal for the Reds with the fourth and final nail in the coffin.

Credit – Liverpool FC Official Twitter Handle

A God sent gift if you are a Liverpool supporter as Salah slotted his 21st goal of the season to share the golden boot with Harry Kane as things stand.

Jurgen Klopp was emotionally charged, so were the players and most of all so was I.

My team had beaten their fiercest rivals on their own turf after an astounding gap of seven years dating back to March, 2014.

The European Equation is as simple as it gets

Liverpool need to win the final three fixtures and hope either of Leicester or Chelsea falter.

The Foxes and The Blues play each other next, with one of them bound to fade which strengthens our claim.

An equation as simple as that and we are in The Champions League next season.

Truth be told, what gives me hope is the resurgence in form we have shown at the right time, which should put us in a good space to beat the lesser teams in West Brom, Burnley and Crystal Palace.

That shall definitely happen in time, as for now, let’s just bask in the glory of beating our biggest enemy!

Be proud my Dear Reds, be very proud for what you’ve done will make us savour this special moment till the end of time.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

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