Blushes spared, the result is all that matters, getting through is all they ask. Roll out the usual cliches here, and Liverpool did it. And it was the same old thing, what i can write and you can read with your eyes closed at this point. Dominant in terms of possession, but not making the equal into a dominant lead on the scoreboard. Squandered chances, mostly from Suarez, leading to a sucker punch of a goal from the other side. It's getting more predictable than a Radiohead song these days.
But the difference is that instead of sagging into extra time and praying for penalties or a moment to get them out of trouble, Liverpool were able to pick themselves up enough to take advantage of Hearts's over-exuberance and grab themselves a winner. That never happens. And with that, Liverpool are through to the group stages of the Zooropa League, which if nothing else will provide more matches to get more of the squad a look and might, just might lead to some exciting European nights in the spring. And I've missed those
Bullets after the jump:
-Before last season, I was horrified at the thought of selling Pepe Reina. I didn't see how letting one of the league's, and possibly world's, best keepers leave would signify the club was heading forward or a destination for players. Boy does that seem silly now. And you wonder if they wouldn't have been better off selling high and making do with a younger, developing keeper. Because selling high on Reina now is probably not possible.
That doesn't mean I'm advocating that. But the clangers are getting more often, and could have proved deadly tonight. I'm sure Pepe will be happy to buy Luis Suarez a drink, that's for sure. But I can't remember the last world class save he's made, but I can recall all the cock-ups. He may be one of the best suited for this style of play, but his first job is to stop the ball from getting in the net. Is he really doing that all that well?
-Other than that, he didn't have anything to do. Once again Liverpool held a team to a paucity of chances, except they seem to be scoring on those chances. Hearts were relegated to just a couple of speculative shots from the outside. Only Raheem Sterling's rash foul set them up for the goal eventually, which was just a speculative shot as it is. But Sterling can be given a pass.
-Joe Allen...well, you know what I would say here.
-Jordan Henderso wasn't as bad out wide in this game, but he still only looks good tucking in where he can pass and move and combine with others. But with Gerrard, Sahin, Allen, Shelvey all seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order for central midfield, will he ever get a loo there.
-This is the exact type of match putting Downing at left back makes sense, where he can essentially be an extra winger. Wasn't tested defensively, and thank god for that.
-Martin Kelly has gotten better with each match played, so I guess we can blame the hiccups of West Brom on a shortened preseason.
-Gerrard still tries too many killer passes or to beat a man to free himself. There's work to be done to fit him into this.
-Suarez is going to score the chances he shouldn't score from, and miss the chances he shouldn't miss. That's just how it's going to be.
-Adam Morgan got a debut, and ran himself into some nice areas. But his touch and other games aren't quite ready for this level yet.
-I'll have a full post on Andy Carroll tomorrow. I'll just say now that I'm disappointed, a little confused, but wait to see what tomorrow's deadline brings. I don't know that Clint Dempsey will be enough.