They may have left it late, but the Reds eventually wore Porto down (a few times, for good measure) and live on to fight another European night.
I was worried. The juxtaposition of the first and second half Liverpool performances was almost maddening (through 78 minutes, that is). What started as a sharp-passing team, venturing forward with swashbuckling spirit came out of the locker room for the second 45 a cataract-suffering shell of itself. Although the game always felt like it had a deciding goal in it, it could have come for and from either side.
That is, until El Nino stepped up. Again.
I’m comfortable in my heterosexuality and am not afraid to say it — I’ve got a full-on Man Crush on Fernando Torres. I get genuinely excited when I see his name in the starting XI, because he’s capable of producing something sublime with each and every touch of the ball. It could come from a solid build-up of play or appear out of thin air. Either way, I’m thoroughly entertained by his play and have supreme confidence in his ability to lead Liverpool to victory.
(photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
And that he did today. After opening the game (and his Champions League account) with a well-taken header, he successfully seperated himself from his defender to put Liverpool ahead and keep them in the hunt for knock-out stage qualification. And that second goal served as the adreneline-filled needle to heart that jolted the boys (as well as fans) in Red on to another two goals.
Let it also be said that ball fed to Torres for the winner came from substitute Harry Kewell, who continues to tease me with visions of a fully-fit Aussie torturing defenders on the wings. I think/hope Rafa will do his best to keep Harry in decent shape, not wearing him out, instead deliberately doling out the minutes in measured amounts. Should he stay healthy, he could make a severe impression on the Premier League.
Let me also note that Gerrard, emblematic of the team, faded in and out of the match but notched the penalty to tie him with Little Mikey Owen as Liverpool’s leading European scorer. Maybe one day Fernando Torres will be challenging that record.
(photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
As for Rafa, he must be pleased with the way the team has responded in the last few matches, as well as with the pro-Benitez demonstration by the Liverpool faithful. I didn’t hear it myself, but word is that amongst the various chants was “Rafa’s going nowhere“. One would hope with continued results like today, that should be certainly be the case.
Rafa on the fans (and the owners):
I want to say thank you to our supporters because I think that they were as always magnificent. The most important thing is the team so I say thank you for the support. To the players it was important as I said before the game and it was also for me, so I say a thank you, a big thank you.
I am really proud to be here and I say thank you because they know I want to stay and fight for my club.
I don’t have any personal problem with the owners or anyone. We will talk and try to go forward.
Forward, indeed. The team has some momentum now, headed into Sunday’s match versus Bolton. Here’s hoping that the off-field BS gets resolved properly. Families fight — it’s just a fact of life. But, it’s the strong ones that know how to patch things up.
So, where does this victory (coupled with Besiktas’ win) leave us?
Continue reading ‘A Hero in the Making’