Date:Sunday December 20 2009
Pompey did what none of the pundits thought we could do, the upstarts from the South coast turned over the royalty from the North West.
To be honest Liverpool were as poor as I have seen them, ever. They (Benitez)may point to Mascherano getting sent off, but Liverpool were all ready a goal down and lacking any fluency. Pompey however were right up for it, the passing was a bit amiss from both sides, but the boys in blue were coping better with the slippy conditions.
Avram Grant rang the changes once more, Begovic retained his place with James still ill, wilson dropped to the bench in favour of Kaboul partnering Ben Haim, what proved to be a masterstroke though was the recall of Belhadj to keep Johnson quiet.
The game kicked off and the tricky pitch was evident from the off, both teams finding footing awkward, and passing was going astray.
Liverpool dominated the first 5 minutes, but Pompey had the first sniff of goal, O'Hara delivering a free-kick into the box which was half-cleared and ended up with Piquionne almost touching it past Reina.
Torres was predictably looking like the most likely for 'pool, a shot narrowly over Begovic's bar showing his threat.
On the half hour and Pompey had a magic moment, Boateng smashed in a volley that Reina saved well, the ball went up in the air and Johnson weakly headed it away from goal, straight to Belhadj who hit the sweetest of volley's with his swinging foot past Reina, he was buried under a pile on of Pompey players and the crowd erupted.
Liverpool should of been level within 2 minutes, Agger headed over what was really a sitter and Pompey lived on.
Just before half-time came what was to be the pivotal moment, Ben Haim was carrying the ball out of defence when Mascherano decided to launch into a lunge at him, both players went down and a melly developed as Pompey took umbrage to the challenge, Mascherano was in a worse state on the ground and he limped off with a red card in his face.
Half-time arrived with the predictable chants of 'Getting sacked in the morning', Benitezs' face didn't seem to reflect otherwise.
Second half and Pompey had obviously upset Liverpool some how, Ben haim in particular as Lucas was straight in the book for leaving his foot in.
Liverpool were having the early pressure and finally registered a shot on target, Begovic fielding easily.
Torres was next to see yellow, Brown had obviously wound him up sufficiently to draw a foul and 'pools in discipline was clear.
Pompey were robbing Liverpool regularly in dangrerous positions, Johnson getting picked by O'Hara, and Piquionne was running Carragher ragged.
Just after the hour and Pompey had Begovic to thank, Gerrard fired in a shot which deflected twice, it seemed to be looping in but out came a hand and flicked it away, a truly outstanding reaction save.
The match was becoming proper end-to-end stuff, 'pool were pushing for an equaliser and Pompey for a second killer, Pompey should of had it, but Piquionne got a 50p head on a fantastic cross and headed wide from 8 yards.
With 10 minutes left however, Piquionne got the goal his selfless running deserved, Boateng skinned Agger on the right and fired in a cross, Piq's touch was heavy, but his second touch every bit as good as Belhadjs' in the first half, he swivelled in a volley and Pompey were 2 up with time ticking up.
Pompey played out the final 10 comfortably, Liverpool pushed, but the rearguard held firm, Kaboul proving a colossus in the air, and Ben haim a rock on the ground.
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Date:Sunday December 20 2009
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|18. Bristol Rovers||33||9||12||12||-2||39|
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