While match reports are another man’s business (at least this pre-season), I do have some observations I’ll share about the relatively entertaining Pompei-Asia Trophy final.
- Early on, Kuyt showed his newfound willingness to side foot the ball over the crossbar. Later, he had a good opportunity off a Pennant cross, heading the ball down with power, but was unlucky to find David James’ feet. Also, Torres put him through in the dying minutes of regulation for the potential game-winner but found himself with a tough angle on an attentive James.
- A Calamity James sighting on the half-hour mark. After a pass-back from his defender, James takes it to the top corner of his box, but doesn’t do well and is stripped by Babel. But, Calamity harasses the youngster well enough until a defender can swoop in to tidy up. James would go on to have a solid game. I wonder if he’ll keep this (and last year’s form) up through this next season.
- Riise has been sporting himself some ruby red slippers all preseason. “I do not agree with this.”
- Harry Cool and Jermaine Pennant looked lively and willing to run at and around defenders. Pennant operated on both flanks, which is promising and should provide Rafa with plenty of future in-games options. And he loves him some options. Kewell worrys me after each tackle, reaching for a body part. I suppose he’s gun-shy at this point, but at some point, you have to let go.
- Traore (Bambi!) lived out a defender’s dream by sliding into the lineman and planting a stud in his ankle.
- Gerrard looked bored on the bench. Maybe even slightly unhappy.
- Reina did a great job to come out and make a save on Gary O’Neill after he was put through on a one-on-one breakaway. Later, he made a great near post save on Lua Lua. He’s looking attentive and reassuring as ever.
- Liverpool asked most of the questions in the first half, unfortunately, the majority of them were softballs like ‘What’s your favorite color?”
- Early in the second half, Sissoko made a rare surge into the box with the ball, only to go down under innocuous contact. Think he’s been watching Stevie G?
- It looks like Babel is going to need some time to develop, which at age 20, is more than fair. If Voronin looks ready to exceed expectations, Babel may intially underwhelm.
- Torres splits the defenders at the top of the box with a nifty touch, but powered the ball over. He would later get sent through, turning Traore the wrong way, only to lose the ball, but did well to stick with it by harassing the defender who took possession and ended up forcing James into a quick save after getting a toe poke off.
- Torres slotted a beautiful ball to Benayoun, who is unjustly ruled to be offsides. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Yossi this pre-season and I now officially have his back.
- Leiva sighting! I thought he was going to have ‘Lucas’ on the jersey, but I stand corrected.
- We got a Gerrard cameo with five minutes to play.
- PK’s!!! Actually, I should say, “PK’s…” The new boys Torres and Benayoun apparently weren’t paying attention during orientation; we win penalty shoot-outs, gentlemen.
If we’re going to lose one, it may as well be when it doesn’t count. Honestly, as long as we made it through injury-free, I’m happy.
The Sky Sports highlights, via 101 Great Goals:
The whole penalty shoot-out (also from 101 Great Goals):