A goal in first half stoppage time proved the difference as Liverpool recorded a 1-0 victory at the Lane on Saturday.
A goal in first half stoppage time proved the difference as Liverpool recorded a 1-0 victory at the Lane on Saturday.It was a cruel time to concede and not being able to respond to the setback ends a run of 12 home wins in a row in all competitions. Luis Garcia got the goal and punished a muddle in our penalty area, but it would be a harsh observer who would claim we deserved nothing from the contest.
The opening exchanges were certainly lively and the most potent threat was definitely Defoe, who was constantly seeking to sprint behind the re-shaped Liverpool rearguard, which was back to a flat four after playing with three central defenders against Blackburn last week.
Mido did get in behind the red wall on nine minutes when a Steed Malbranque block fell kindly in his path. The big striker opted for the spectacular and it went spectacularly high and wide.
Craig Bellamy posed the first significant threat at the other end when he sprinted down the right channel and drilled in a low shot on Paul Robinson. The England man was equal to the challenge, but would have been able to do little had Dirk Kuyt's floated effort been on target after Bellamy teed up the Dutchman.
It was a flurry of goalmouth action in a game where the pitch appeared crowded, it was taking time to stretch out and both teams were struggling to play through the traffic.
Defoe remained the tormentor of the team defending the Park Lane end and was a whisker away from making a decent connection with a low Huddlestone centre, before being flagged offside while in the midst of creating more mayhem. It was Mido who next came closest when he nodded his head at a Lee Young-Pyo cross, but could not make enough impact to alter the flight of the ball.
Liverpool took the lead in first half stoppage when Steven Gerrard made an attempt when Didier Zokora gave the ball away and it squirted through to Luis Garcia who was able to dispatch past Robinson. It was a poor goal to lose and a bad time to concede. There was a chance to double the advantage when Calum Davenport was shoved off the ball and Bellamy was able to further test Robinson.
It was the last action for the Welsh international who was soon replaced by Jermaine Pennant, while Danny Murphy was offered the chance to impress against his former club in place of Zokora, quickly followed by the introduction of Dimitar Berbatov on 58 minutes for Mido.
Berbatov, a real smooth operator of a striker, made an instant impression with his ability to link up play and run with the ball, also lifted the crowd and increased belief that something could still be gained from this fixture.
The skies opened and the rain came thrashing down on the Lane pitch, which also seemed to have a positive effect on the atmopshere in a crowd of 36,170, who then saw Steve Finnan strike his own bar from a fizzed in cross from Berbatov.
With 15 minutes left on the clock there was a real chance to level when Berbatov supplied Pascal Chimbonda down the right, who in turn zipped across into Defoe territory. The little hitman didn't quite get hold of his shot but the ball ran loose - Pepe Reina was out of his goal - but Hossam Ghaly slashed the loose ball wide.
Defoe then had Reina at full-stretch after being picked out by Murphy to the left of the Liverpol penalty area, before Berbatov did have the ball in the net after a goalmouth scramble, but Ghaly was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
Liverpool remained in retreat, but managed to hang on for the points.