Champions League – Liverpool pegged back in Madrid
Liverpool let a goal lead slip and saw Robbie Keane go off injured as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in Group D of the Champions League.
Steven Gerrard and Xavi Alonso were also withdrawn after picking up slight knocks on a mixed night for the Merseyside team.
Keane gave Liverpool the lead in the first-half but then had to go off early in the second with a groin injury leaving him doubtful for Sunday’s crucial trip to Chelsea.
What had initially looked like being a great night for the Reds then got worse when Simao Sabrosa, who has often been linked with a move to Anfield, fired home an equaliser seven minutes from time.
However, both sides can be reasonably happy with the result as they remain unbeaten at the top of the table with seven points apiece, with the Spanish side ahead on goal difference.
Liverpool can also count themselves lucky that they benefited from some woeful decision making from the Danish officials.
Keane’s goal had more than a hint of offside about it, while after the break Maniche had an effort wrongly chalked off for offside by the linesman.
Liverpool decided to leave Dirk Kuyt on the bench and play Keane up front on his own, and in the first-half, that helped Rafael Benitez’s side control the play in midfield.
Their crisp passing was in stark contrast to Atletico’s nervy play, and it was no real surprise when the Reds took the lead in the 23rd minute.
Keane calmly finished low when faced one-on-one with Leo Franco but he did appear to be offside when he ran onto to Gerrard’s clever low ball in behind the defence.
Liverpool were on cruise control for the rest of the half, and while they were not creating bucket loads of chances, they were ensuring a comfortable night for Pepe Reina at the other end.
They also should have gone 2-0 up, but Keane fresh-aired an elaborate close range effort from a Gerrard cross when he should have just side-footed it home.
The best that Atletico could manage in the first 45 minutes was a shot from distance from Diego Forlan that screwed just wide of the target.
However, the Spanish side looked much brighter after the break as they brought on their star Argentine Sergio Aguero who had been rested at the start by Javier Aguirre with the Mexican coach deciding to shuffle his line-up after three consecutive defeats in La Liga.
It could have been 2-0 for Liverpool though early in the second-half as this time another borderline offside decision went against them as Yossi Benayoun was flagged off after sweeping the ball in when it looked like he might have been level.
However, the far more questionable decision making was occurring at the other end; first Forlan saw an attack called back despite looking clearly on and then Atletico were denied an obvious goal when the linesman’s flag again shot up in the 56th minute.
The Spanish side worked the ball superbly from left to right and Maniche side-footed home what looked to be the equaliser but it was called back to the bemusement of the home team.
It just didn’t look like it was going to be the Liga side’s night as moments later Simao cracked a fine shot off the post and after that the fizz seemed to evaporate out of their comeback bid.
However, they again started to get back into things as the game came to a close, and they finally levelled matters in the 83rd minute when Simao finally swept home a left foot drive after a checked pass from Forlan.
Jamie Carragher will be disappointed with the goal though as he let a long ball drop over his head which set up the attack for Forlan.
Reina then had to make a decent stop from Miguel near the end, but the best late chance fell for Liverpool when Dutch substitutes Kuyt and Ryan Babel launched a counter attack.
Kuyt whipped in a low cross and Babel got in ahead of his man but then he headed wide from close range.
With Keane limping off and Fernando Torres also on the sidelines, the duo may have to link up again at Stamford Bridge, although Benitez said afterwards that he hoped that all three players that went off would be fit for Sunday.
PSV 2-0 Marseille
Danny Koevermans struck twice after the break to earn PSV Eindhoven a 2-0 home victory over Marseille in the other Champions League Group D match.
The win gave PSV their first points of the campaign after Stijn Wuytens had gone close in the first half.
After the break PSV completely overwhelmed their opponents and should have settled the match within five minutes with Ibrahim Afellay and Wuytens both missing from close range.
With 19 minutes remaining Koevermans broke the deadlock when he headed home a corner kick and five minutes before time Edison Mendes set up the striker for his second goal. PSV move to three points while Marseille are yet to register a point.