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Thursday, February 22, 2007

UEFA Champions League, Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool taught Barcelona a Lesson!
This precious result was just one element in an astounding night for Liverpool. They had initially been outclassed in the delicate facets of the game but are now on the verge of knocking out the holders and entering the quarter-finals. Such was the transformation that they were a far sounder line-up by the end than psychologically fragile Barcelona, who conceded two hapless goals.

Rafael Benitez had got his tactics spot on, although for the first 20 minutes or so, Barcelona looked ominously in the mood. And in the 13th minute, Zambrotta broke on the left-wing and sent over an inch-perfect cross which Deco, having run untracked from midfield, embarrassed Riise with a powerful low header at the far post.

Liverpool's equaliser, two minutes before the break, came right out of th
e blue. Belletti was exposed as Bellamy met a deep free-kick at the back post with another low header. It was straight at Victor Valdes, but the keeper was behind his line and so, momentarily but decisively, was the ball. He scooped it out, but only to Dirk Kuyt, who smashed it back into the net. But the goal was clearly Bellamy's - and of course he celebrated by swinging an imaginary golf club.

Barcelona did get an invitation to regain the lead immediately before they fell behind, however. In the 73rd minute Javier Saviola wormed his way through and, when the ball ran free after being blocked by Reina, Messi seemed set to finish until Arbeloa got in the way of his effort. Moments later Gerrard fed Kuyt and, although the Dutchman miscontrolled, Valdés hesitated and Rafael Márquez inadvertently knocked the ball down to Bellamy, who squared for Riise to hit the net with a right-foot drive. In all the fundamentals of football competitiveness Liverpool had transformed themselves into the superior team for whom this conquest in Barcelona was only natural.

Liverpool earned a famous victory at Camp Nou - and Barca now have a real problem to solve at Anfield in two weeks' time.
Now for the Goals: