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Liverpool 0 AS Roma 1 - Uefa Cup (Apr 22 2001)

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LIVERPOOL 0 AS Roma 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) –

Half Time - 0-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Thur 22 Feb 2001

Star Man – Didi Hamann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phew! That was a bit hairy to say the least, but we're through and that's all that really matters. The back four were magnificent, and in front of them Didi Hamann was again fantastic. This is probably the best game I've seen him have at Anfield, and he needed to be at his best given the amount of possession Roma had.

 

Houllier said afterwards that they're a better team than us, and if they'd had Totti, Cafu and Batistuta in the side I'd agree, but compare their starting eleven with ours, and I'd have to say that we definitely awarded them too much respect. We sat back and protected the lead, which although an understandable tactic, was also a very dangerous one.

 

We defended brilliantly, but as we saw it only takes one long range effort to go in and then it's backs to the wall and panic stations. Other than the chance which Delvecchio wasted, Roma didn't create a thing, yet still they should have equalized when the ref awarded them a pen and then changed his mind. No wonder the Roma players were livid. Imagine if that had happened to us? We'd have been furious, and rightly so. I don't know whether or not it was a penalty as I haven't seen the TV replay yet, but the ref pointed to the spot - twice! - and then changed his mind.

 

Of course, the tie should have been over by then anyway, but for some penalty trouble of our own. I'm not getting on Owen's back, as after all he is the one that gave us the two goal cushion to begin with, but he's about as effective from the penalty spot as Hamann is with free-kicks. How many does he have to miss before he's told that he can't take any more?

 

Obviously with Litmanen, Fowler, Berger, Smicer and Redknapp all missing, we had a shortage of takers, but Ziege or McAllister would be better choices than Owen. In fact, Westerveld would be a better choice than Michael. Quite simply, he's shit at penalties. That's not me being wise after the event, as I made the very same point in the fanzine last season. When he stepped up to take that kick, there was no doubt in my mind that he would miss. I'm sure I wasn't the only one with this feeling either.

 

He'd also missed a good chance in the first half, and it was obvious that it wasn't going to be his night. Heskey wasn't having a great time of it either, and in the first half he seemed more concerned with not getting injured than actually getting at them. Whether he was still carrying that knock to his ankle I don't know, but it certainly looked like it from where I was sitting. He simply didn't want to know in the first half, and was constantly looking to the ref to help him out instead of getting stuck in himself. Thankfully he was more enthusiastic in the second half and held the ball up better and closed them down more, possibly due to an arse kicking in the dressing room at half time by Tommo.

 

This was a game which we really needed the composure of Litmanen, as we kept giving possession away and hit far too many long balls. Roma may be top of Serie A, but they were missing their three best players (four if you count Aldair, and five if you add Emerson) and we needn't have been so cautious. As soon as we cleared the ball it came straight back at us, but it has to be said that our back four were simply magnificent all night. I gave the star man award to Hamann, but it could just as easily have gone to any one of the defenders.

 

Roma were niggly right from the start, and the only surprising thing was that only one of them was sent off. The Argentine at the back must committed about four or five bookable offences, but kept getting away with it. The blatant tug at Heskey's shorts in the first half was a disgrace. As the game wore on, they became more and more ratty, particularly Candela. I've got the game on tape and I'm looking forward to watching it to see exactly what was going on out there, because at the time all I could see were scuffles going on everywhere.

 

I saw Fowler get a hand rammed into his face, and Robbie deserves all the credit in the world for not reacting to it. I also saw Markus Babbel lose it in a big way! Quite what it was that set him off like that I'll be interested to see, as Markus is possibly the most mild mannered player in the side, yet he lost it big time and went charging after one of their players. Luckily his team-mates intervened before he did something daft, but there was a lot going on off the ball, including spitting, shirt pulling and all kinds of other niggly things. Typical Italians really.

 

The crowd were magnificent, as they always are on these occasions, and the Paisley mosaic tribute was wonderful (I arrived in the ground just in time to see it, although by the time I'd got my camera out it was too late). We were even treated to the appearance at half time of Rush and Dalglish amongst others, although what the hell were the Roma subs doing just standing there getting in the way? I was watching Batistuta to see if he applauded Rushy and Kenny when they came out, but he never, the scruffy, dirty long haired bastard.

 

Another incident that happened right near the end absolutely astonished me though. We were into stoppage time, and most people in the ground were on their feet, when I noticed an argument going on about ten rows in front of me in the Main Stand involving reds legend David Johnson and some guy who was sitting behind him. Apparently this knobhead was having a go at the Doc for standing up, and was telling him to sit down!

 

The Doc was trying to tell the guy that the people in front of him were standing up, and therefore he had to as well, but the guy was having none of it. What a tosser! He should stay away from Anfield in future and watch on the telly, then he won't have to worry about anyone inconveniencing him by standing up. Fucking gobshite. If I'd been sitting a bit closer I'd have let the dickhead know exactly what I thought of him.

It would have been bad enough if it was just an ordinary fan who he was having a go at, but to show such a lack of respect for a reds legend was unbelievable, and Johnno did well not to lamp him.

 

 

(Update) - I've since watched the tape of the game, and have come to the following conclusions:

 

1) Neither side should have a penalty

 

2) The referee actually booked Guigu twice, yet allowed him to stay on

 

3) Heskey wasn't as bad as I thought in the first half

 

4) Babbel lost it because Guigu tried to decapitate him

 

5) John Motson is an oily, slimy bastard who was desperate for Roma to knock us out (how many references did he make to Arsenal in '89? I stopped counting after about fifteen)

 

6) Roma are spiteful, petty, niggly bastards. In short, your typical Italian side really

 

7) We're in the next round. Arriverderci Roma!!! (or however the hell you spell it)

 

TEAM: Sander Westerveld; Markus Babbel, Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz, Jamie Carragher; Nick Barmby (Robbie Fowler), Dietmar Hamann, Gary McAllister, Christian Ziege; Emile Heskey, Michael Owen (Vladimir Smicer):

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