Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Football : Leeds United 0 - 1 Liverpool

Liverpool striker David Ngog produced a clinical finish to help the Reds come through a testing Carling Cup third-round tie at Leeds.
Ngog controlled an attempted shot by Javier Mascherano before spinning and sidefooting past keeper Shane Higgs.
It was the kind of finish Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford lacked as he mishit an earlier shot when through on goal.
Beckford was also harshly deemed offside when Leeds had an early Lubomir Michalik headed effort disallowed.
It was a contentious call by the assistant referee as Beckford looked onside, while also not appearing to get a touch as Michalik's low header found its way past flailing keeper Diego Cavalieri.
The decision may leave Leeds with a rueful feeling of an opportunity lost, especially against a lacklustre Liverpool side, but they can take encouragement from a determined performance.
A tough challenge was expected from Leeds after 15 league home wins on the trot, their good form pitted against the desire of Liverpool's fringe players trying to impress manager Rafael Benitez.
A roaring full house was also in the home side's corner and provided a flashback to recent halcyon days at Elland Road, which included a Champions League semi-final against Valencia in 2001.
And Leeds should have given their contingent of the sell-out crowd a goal to cheer early on but an unmarked Michael Doyle headed an inviting Robert Snodgrass cross disappointingly wide.
Michalik's header was then disallowed as Leeds pushed forward, sensing an upset against an unfamiliar looking Liverpool struggling for any rhythm or control.
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Benitez had made nine changes to his starting line-up and it told in their play with Ryan Babel ending a marauding run with a tame shot to give them a rare threat on goal.
Liverpool's second string were doing little to enhance their cases for more of a first-team say as Leeds were the more accomplished, with Snodgrass, in particular, causing Reds left-back Andrea Dossena all sorts of problems.
Leeds were given a major scare when Albert Riera flicked a header goalwards from close range but keeper Higgs pulled off an instinctive save before Luciano Becchio blocked the Spaniard's follow-up.
Beckford has earned a reputation as a prolific striker in League One and was aiming to enhance his reputation against more exalted opposition.
He had an ideal chance when he was through on goal after running on to a long ball but he mistimed his shot and Cavalieri gratefully saved.
Cannot play media.You do not have the correct version of the flash player. corrBeckford did show his instinctive nature in front of goal when a Bradley Johnson cross was just behind him and he hooked an effort on goal agonisingly high.
Liverpool were hardly convincing and Mascherano could have been given more than a telling off for striking out at Beckford as the visitors' frustration came to the fore.
But the tireless Ngog capitalised on the home side's failure to score with his goal before the Reds closed out the game to progress into the last 16.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson:"I felt Jermaine was level for the goal (we had disallowed) but we are talking marginal errors at times.
"I'm loathed to criticise but when you look he was level and the goal should have stood.
"We certainly matched them and on another night we might have got the victory our performance deserved."
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:"It was a great goal (by Ngog). He showed quality, very good movement. He was also fighting big lads, so I think he had a very positive game.
"We won with a lot of players not playing and I am really pleased with my team, with the squad.
"These kind of games are very important to keep the quality of character. I think it was a fantastic win for us."

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