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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool

Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool, Stamford Bridge Sunday 06-02-06
Match report By Edwin Mak.

Like so many times this season and the last, Chelsea huffed into motion with the inertia of an iron locomotive. Not a rolling start but one of laboured momentum, slowly but steadily building steam. Chelsea has gained a little reputation of being a second half team, conceding first on many occasions but typically emerging under Mourinho’s second half orders like a different side. The best example of this was the enthralling 5-1 win against Bolton. I digress.

Liverpool had much to play for; winning at the Bridge would keep vital pressure on second place Manchester United. This would also help trim the 18-point lead set by Chelsea. Statistics aside, this particular fixture is as much about passion and a rivalry of the highest calibre. The reigning league champions and current leaders host the ‘Kings of Europe’ as the Kop have affectionately dubbed themselves to another serving of football roast.

The tempo of the game was Liverpool’s to set; the initial 20 minutes saw the travelling reds sending out probing attacks on both flanks under Gerrard and Kewell with longer balls targeting Crouch. With a surprise start for the fresh from injury Essien, it was clear he was off the pace, Sissoko exerted good pressure on him. Midfield was an intense battle where Liverpool had an upper hand.

The travelling supporters mocked the home fans with their rendition of Chelsea’s ‘Carefree’: “Fuck off – Chelsea FC – You Ain’t got any History”. The travelling kop had brought Anfield’s most defiant fans. Proudly they defied tannoy instructions to sit down, they stood for the whole match. The Bridge took the safety measure of sending a football squad sized reinforcement of stadium stewards to sit in front of the away fans.

The home team sent out lightning raids from Robben and Cole and Crespo, but correctly caught offside by the baby-faced linesman’s continual decisions.

Like too often this season, Liverpool could not find the cutting edge up front when they so often needed. Crouch provided neat interplay for deep attacks between Gerrard and Kewell and the reliable Finnan, but could not find the target when asked by Gerrard’s corners. Between Hyypia and Crouch they squandered all the plentiful early opportunities, leaving Cech untested. This was the signature key Liverpool continued to play in for the rest of the match. A problem Benitez had already addressed with the fresh re-signing of Robbie Fowler, but until fully fit remained out of the squad for the clash.

Having weathered the blunt attacks, Chelsea made their first incision at 35 minutes, from a set piece. Lampard from a deep in-swinging corner helped on by Carvalho for Gallas to swipe in a low short range shot past Reina. The Bridge erupted! As the versatile defender celebrated he must have thought of what the Blue fans knew, Chelsea have never lost this season after scoring first.

The pace of the game began to pick up as it was opened by the first goal, looking for the second Chelsea’s back half passed neatly whilst the forwards poised for the attacking pass. Makelele™ (trademark) seemed to be working overtime, helping Essien’s role whilst performing his own-patented play breaking duties. He was magnificent in the anti-glamourous role; the world looks to him as the benchmark for that position. So effective and modest, even when he could be justified in taking credit for making John Terry look good. Possession and the upper hand had switched to Chelsea.

By the 68th minute Chelsea’s dominance was total, having seen a goal disallowed for offside, Crespo was finally rewarded. A transitional movement originating from Carragher heading away a free kick, Del Horno collected and sent through a pass to the path of the lurking Argentine. Crespo struck first time from an awkward angle past a diving outstretched Reina. A delicious geometry!

Liverpool looked increasingly exasperated which was clearly manifest when Reina charged out from his box to scissor down Gudjohnson with both legs and from behind. Whether or not he got the ball was irrelevant, it was clumsy and reckless. As Reina then lashed out at a goading Robben, Reina was shown a red as Robben ungraciously added theatrics to the overall drama. A cruel blow? Maybe, but it was almost an irrelevant annotation, the match had been decided already.

By this time, the West London locomotive was chugging along at full momentum. Crespo was denied a second time by the lines-man, one that Mourinho rued in post match interview as “an even more beautiful goal”, a deft chip over an advancing Reina. Liverpool down to 10 men and with the rare sight of Jerzy Dudek in goal were stretched and out passed further. Had it not have been for Gerrard’s never-say-die defending, Robben’s increasingly audacious runs could have compounded the Mersey side’s misery.


Blogger Àxel Torres said...

Yrsa, very interesting blog. I guess you are english and you live in Catalonia, isn't it? What's your favourite football team? You say it is Barça, but don't you have any one in England? Thank you for commenting in my blog, I find it very interesting to have opinions of people who know well English football.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Yrsa Roca Fannberg said...

Well - almost the other way around, my dad is Catalan. I am from Iceland.
I did not want the blog to be a me me me blog and it is nice to see different opinions. Bueno te escribo en castellano, queria tenerlo un poco "como la web en un blog", y como tengo amigos en GB y en España i otros sitios era una buena oportunidad.
Soy un poco chaquetona cuando se refiere a un equip ingles (igual me tiro a liverpool o arsenal o spurs o west Ham).
Tambien queria tener recetas si a alguien le faltaba ideas para comer o ver una pelicula (luego comentan), pero como esto es nuevo seguramente cambiare de linia.
Igual traducire los textos al castellano (como a veces he hecho al ingles) para vuestros Castellanoparlantes.
El futbol tenia que acercar no?

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Edwin said...

Now re-posted to my site.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Edwin said...

Now re-posted to my site.

4:24 PM  

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