Liverpool 2 United 2: Reserves set the scene for Saturday as Liverpool claim fortunate point
Posted by nickogs20 on March 12, 2009
|Liverpool Reserves||2-2||Manchester United Reserves|
|Degen 5||–||Welbeck 20|
|Pacheco 49||–||Fábio 36|
With Saturday’s Premier League clash between these two fierce rivals looming, the North-West giants’ respective second strings played out an entertaining and, at times, pulsating clash this evening at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium. Liverpool’s multi-national XI capitalised on defensive and goalkeeping lapses from the visitors early in each half – Philipp Degen and Dani Pacheco with the goals – but in between, a dominant United display saw Ole Solskjaer’s side take a deserved 2-1 lead into the break after fine goals from Danny Welbeck and Fábio da Silva. The second half never quite lived up to the quality of the first, the game petering out into an increasingly feisty and niggly affair and the home side definitely the happier with the final result.
Solskjaer’s starting lineup saw four changes from that which won through to the Manchester Senior Cup final with a hard-fought win on Monday. Out went Ron-Robert Zieler, Oliver Gill, Darron Gibson and Zoran Tošić, to be replaced by Tomasz Kuszczak, Richard Eckersley, Fábio da Silva and Danny Welbeck – a set of changes that really illustrated the depth of talent at Old Trafford. Corry Evans – very much the mainstay of the defence this season – continued as skipper, while Danny Galbraith waited patiently (or quite possibly impatiently) on the bench for his first reserve action of the season after his successful comeback for the academy last weekend.
United really set the tone right from the off, going straight on the attack from kick-off and nearly opening the scoring after barely 20 seconds. Danny Drinkwater surged down the right and looked to have picked out his England U19 colleague Welbeck with a low cross but, as the Reds striker prepared to pull the trigger, an outstretched Liverpool boot deflected the ball up onto the 18 year-old’s chest and harmlessly wide.
Frustrating for the Reds but that was nothing compared to what happened next, as that early momentum was well and truly lost. Liverpool centre-half Mikel San Jose’s long ball looked to be absolutely no trouble for the Reds’ rearguard but a calamitous lack of communication between Kuszczak and Robbie Brady allowed Swiss international Philipp Degen to steal in and gleefully roll the ball into an empty net. The 26 year-old was making his return from a metatarsal injury and couldn’t believe his luck.
Unfortunately for Degen his luck wasn’t to last, what appeared to be a re-occurence of that foot injury forcing him off just after the midway point in the half. Even worse for Liverpool – by that point United had pegged them back. Welbeck had already seen another chance come and go when he perhaps dallied a bit too long before shooting and saw his effort blocked, but when Matty James’ throughball sent him clear of the Liverpool backline he made no such mistake, accelerating away from the chasing defenders before dinking a sublime finish over ‘keeper Bouzanis – a goal that had all the hallmarks of a player in serious first team contention.
United were well on top at this stage and Bouzanis was called into action again shortly after to tip a fizzing low drive from Drinkwater wide at full stretch. James and Rodrigo Possebon were pulling all the strings in the centre of the park and the fluid movement of the attacking quartet of Welbeck, Drinkwater, Brady and Lee Martin – reminiscent of the first-team’s forward play – was causing no end of problems for the Liverpool defence.
Indeed, it was a combination between three of those that led to a superbly-crafted second goal for United, eventually scored by Fábio. Welbeck found Drinkwater, whose clever flick in turn found the young Brazilian on the left flank. The 18 year-old passed inside to Martin and continued his run, cutting inside with perfect timing to recieve his team-mate’s precise pass and roll the ball past the onrushing Bouzanis with all the coolness and composure he has shown from the penalty spot in recent weeks.
More to follow…
1. Tomasz Kuszczak
2. Richard Eckersley
3. Fábio da Silva (14. Oliver Norwood 66)
4. Corry Evans (c)
5. Ritchie de Laet
6. Matt James
7. Rodrigo Possebon
8. Danny Drinkwater
9. Danny Welbeck
10. Lee Martin
11. Robbie Brady (12. Jimmy Derbyshire 83)
Subs not used
13. Gary Woods
15. Antonio Bryan
16. Daniel Galbraith
Booked: de Laet
Liverpool: Bouzanis, Mendy (Huth 82), Irwin, San Jose, Kelly, Plessis, Degen (Crowther 24), Palsson, Flora (Spearing 44), Pacheco, Weijl. Subs not used: Hansen, Dalla Valle.