A half-decent first half followed by the most inept 75 minutes this season could only lead to the Europa League exit door. Liverpool was back to their worst self versus Besiktas yesterday .
Okay, Liverpool had to shuffle the pack and leave out major figures due to injury. And matches has arrived quick and regularly. But this doesn´t justify the bad performance, only to a certain extent. The Reds should be able to put up a better showing than in the 0-1 defeat in Turkey.
In the first half we played quite good and could have put the issue beyond doubt if Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling had put their fine chances away. After the break it was another story. Besiktas dominated completely, created chances and the home goal was inevitable. The Turks continued to run the show all the way through the second half and in extra-time aswell. We were lucky to get to a penalty shoot-out.
In the second half Liverpool was back to bad habits displayed in the autumn. The Reds lost almost every duel, missed an enormous amount of passes, many of them simple ones, the movement and running were almost nonexistent, the players didn´t make themselves available for a pass, there was no aggression och pressing to win the ball, absolutely no attacking ideas, and we released the ball too late and got ourselves into trouble or dispossessed time after time.
I could go on but best thing is to forget this sorry showing, perhaps the worst of the season, and move on.
Liverpool is no longer in the competition and it could be a blessing in disguise. Progress would have weared the squad down even more and we would hardly have gone all the way and lifted the trophy. An elimination in the semis for instance would have meant a lot of matches leading only to disturb our chances of winning the FA Cup and finish in top four in the league. Now we can concentrate on the two remaining domestic assignments. I think that is all we can handle right now with all the injuries and the tiredness demonstrated yesterday, Yes, Liverpool appeared to be physically drained. To be relieved of European duties can be the refresher we need ahead of the season run-in.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 6.
A good and assured showing, no chance on the goal.
RB Kolo Toure 5.
Took care of his defensive duties without fuss.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
Dominant in the air and determined on the ground.
LB Dejan Lovren 4.
No errors defensively but wasted the ball too much.
RWB Jordon Ibe 3.
Covered well in defence but had no attacking impact.
DM Joe Allen 1.
Missed passes, got dispossessed and was often out of position.
DM Emre Can 2.
The home team ran rings around him and no offensive contribution.
LWB Alberto Moreno 6.
Worked like a slave and was creative going forward and aggressive in defence. Best Red on the night.
AM Raheem Sterling 1.
Lost the ball all the time and finished poorly on a couple of occasions.
CF Daniel Sturridge 1.
Had a glorious chance to score but opted for his unbeliviable usual dribbling and wasted the opportunity. Lazy and selfish effort.
CF Mario Balotelli 2.
Didn´t do much but tried to get some attacking play going.
RB Javier Manquillo 3. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 76 mins).
Did his defensive job, nothing else.
RF Adam Lallana 4. (Replaced Mario Balotelli after 82 mins).
One of few eager Reds. Did have a go at the home defence but had no back-up.
CF Rickie Lambert 2. (Replaced Daniel Sturridge after 105 mins).
No particular contribution apart from his cool penalty.
In my entry yesterday I posed the question if the Liverpool squad was good enough to cope with injuries. The answer was no. Now that question is taken care of the next one is if we can compete on two fronts and make sure that manager Brendan Rodgers finally can lift som silverware. I won´t hold my breath but still:
We Go Again.