For the first 15 minutes, it looked every bit like a signature performance. It looked like Liverpool would walked into the home of the wounded best club in the land, possibly third best team on the continent, and batter them into submission. They were lively, creative, and dangerous. Only Joe Hart kept it from getting ugly early. But Liverpool made the dominance pay off. They got their goal, and looked set to pour it on and make us all feel as if we were on a coke binge.
Then it turned into Houllier at the Camp Nou in 2001, or Rafa Benitez at the Della Alpi in 2005. But the thing is about those occasions and this one is that they worked. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fun to watch. But it wasn't a shock either. You could tell from about the 55th minute that City had run out of ideas, and if they were to get a goal it would just come from blunt force.
Yes, Liverpool conceded possession too easily. Yes , they bunkered too deep. Yes, the whole tie could have possibly been killed off. But everyone would have taken 1-0 from the start. No, it isn't over. City could overturn this in the span of minutes at Anfield. But Liverpool have played City three times this season, and even though one of those ended 0-3, they've never looked out of place. A draw at home? More than doable.
-Who else is simply relieved that someone at the club can put away a penalty?
-And Gerrard looks as desperate to lift a trophy again as captain as we are to see him do it.
-No, I have no idea what formation Dalglish was going for when he brought Enrique on. I don't think the players did either. Guess it didn't matter. Give him points for creativity. It had to be creative if no one could figure out what the fuck he was doing, right?
-The talk before the match was Macini's moaning about his squad depth. There were those who tried to excuse it by saying it wasn't the number but the quality of players they were without. That's not to be dismissed, because there was a moving truck of class out of the lineup for City. But Liverpool were without a first choice for the Brazil 11 and a player who won Copa America pretty much by himself. Didn't hear much about that, did you?
-I start to get dizzy when writing about Andy Carroll. I thought he was pretty lively for the first half. That turn on Savic took a brilliant save from his off-foot. The header he put narrowly wide was pretty much from nothing, as the cross was behind him and low. But his touch and passing was off for a lot of the night, and the second half didn't matter because he was so isolated from the rest of his team he might have started shivering from a feeling of loneliness.
Here's where I think we're going to be when we conclude an opinion of Carroll. I don't know when that comes, but whatever. If you ignore his price tag, and perhaps give up on him becoming one of the world's most feared strikers, Carroll will eventually be an effective squad striker. Second choice or something. Not what you want for 35 million, but a piece that's worth having.
-Charlie Adam came on, and gave away three dangerous free kicks. And we'll have to live with it, because Spearing's hamstring won't heal for a bit.
-That said, Gerrard took the holding role, bringing his career full circle as that's where he broke into the team. Though it blunts Liverpool's attack a bit, his IQ and determination do a job there.
-It might not blunt the attack that much if Jordan Henderson can maintain his form, which was only seen until Spearing went off and he had to drop deeper. And then when the formation went goofy I don't really have any idea where he played.
-Skrtel and Agger = all that is man.
-For all the possession they conceded, Reina had maybe two tough saves to make. That says it all.
This will feel better if they carry the momentum into Saturday against Stoke, because the three points at home are just as important as this first leg.