Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool: Bad boys on target
Posted by Dresonic on February 22, 2007
BARCELONA, February 21 (Champions League) – Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise both got on the scoresheet as Liverpool put a traumatic week behind them to claim a stunning Champions League victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Ronaldinho and Barcelona’s other stars failed to shine.
Bellamy and Riise were allegedly the two players involved in last week’s training ground fracas in Portugal – and tonight’s response from the pair will have delighted coach Rafael Benitez and the mass of travelling Liverpool fans.
In the battle between the last two winners of the competition, 2005 champions Liverpool tonight became only the second English team to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp.The only previous side to win here was the 1975-76 Liverpool team, which downed Barca 1-0 in the UEFA Cup semi-finals before going on to win the final.Liverpool, who had not lost in three previous visits to the Nou Camp, made a confident start, and they should possibly have taken the lead after creating the first incisive move of the match in the fourth minute.However, Riise, having broken the offside trap to latch onto Steven Gerrard’s pass, could not find Bellamy in the middle, when a decent pass would surely have led to the Welshman putting Liverpool ahead.After a quiet start, the home side and their fans were finally woken up when Ronaldinho went sprawling in the box, only for the referee to wave play on.Deco then tried his luck before Juliano Belletti blazed high and wide, before Barca took the lead in the 14th minute when Gianluca Zambrotta crossed to the far post where the diminutive Deco headed into the corner of the net.Saviola had a chance to make it 2-0 just minutes later after skipping past Jamie Carragher, but the Argentinian’s left-footed shot went wide.Barca were rampant at this stage, and Reina was forced to come out and deny Deco following a neat pass from Lionel Messi.With Rafael Benitez’s side clearly shell-shocked, Barca continued to push forward and only some desperate Liverpool defending kept the Spanish champions from increasing their lead.Liverpool managed to regroup – and they had a chance to draw level seven minutes before the break after earning a free-kick out wide on the left. However, the unmarked Bellamy could only head Gerrard’s cross into the side-netting.Bellamy made amends for that miss in the 43rd minute though as Liverpool drew level.Steve Finnan dinked a ball into the box and Bellamy powered in a header which Victor Valdes was unable to keep hold of, with Dirk Kuyt pouncing to slot the ball home.Bellamy’s header had already crossed the line before Valdes pushed it back out though, and the striker celebrated his goal by imitating a golf-swing.Barca coach Frank Rijkaard then opted to make a change at the start of the second half, with Thiago Motta replaced by Spain international Andres Iniesta, much to the delight of the home fans.But even with the highly-rated Iniesta on the pitch, Barca were still struggling to re-establish their early dominance and Rijkaard made his second switch in the 65th minute, sending on Ludovic Giuly for Xavi Hernandez.Liverpool were gifted a chance to take the lead when Valdes picked up a back-pass from Giuly.Gerrard saw his shot saved by the feet of Valdes, but Liverpool really should have netted when the ball came back into the box, with Kuyt unable to head home from just three yards out.That let-off seemed to spark Barca into life briefly and they fashioned their best chance of the second half soon afterwards.Saviola created some space for a shot inside the Liverpool penalty area, but he was denied by Reina. The rebound fell for Messi – but he saw his shot deflected over.Liverpool scored their second goal in the 74th minute, after Gerrard picked out Kuyt with a brilliant pass.Although the Dutchman was denied by Reina, Bellamy played the loose ball across goal for the unmarked Riise to blast right-footed into the roof of the net.With their title defence beginning to slip away, Barca piled forward after that in search of an equaliser, but poor control from Saviola saw one decent chance go begging.With five minutes to go Reina flapped at a cross to leave Liverpool fans with their hearts in their mouths, but he was saved by his covering defence.A similar misjudgement from Reina minutes later almost cost his side a goal though, and he will have been hugely relieved to see Deco’s curling free-kick hit his far post and rebound away to safety.That was the closest Barca would come to an equaliser however, and they now face an uphill battle in the second leg at Anfield.
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