Tuesday 06 March 2007 19:45 , Champions League
Last 16
(Leg 2nd) : Match Day 3 : Anfield


Liverpool have qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions League after they knocked the holders Barcelona out of the competition on away goals despite a 1-0 defeat in the second leg at Anfield on Tuesday night.

A late goal from Eidur Gudjohnsen gave Barcelona the win on the night, but the two goals Liverpool scored in a 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp a fortnight ago was enough to see them through. And no one could deny them the glory after they created the majority of the games chances and deserved to be well ahead at the break.

All the pre-match talk from the Liverpool camp had centred on the importance of producing a performance as good, if not better, than the one produced to earn a famous win in the Nou Camp. And Rafa Benitez decided to start this one with the same eleven that stunned the reigning European Champions in Spain a fortnight ago.

It was a measure of the enormity of this game that Anfield was already packed when the players from both sides were going through their warm up routines some 30 minutes before kick off. Reds fans were clearly anticipating a classic European night as they gave a glimpse of the atmosphere to come with some early renditions of their favourite anthems.

The volume had risen significantly by the time the game had kicked off and Liverpool did their best to keep the fans singing by going at Barcelona from the start. And they almost scored a vital opener after just 8 minutes when John Arne Riise drilled a low shot just wide of a helpless Victor Valdes’ left hand post.

Valdes was beaten again 3 minutes later when this time Riise smashed an unstoppable dipping volley against his crossbar. The crossbar was rattling and Barcelona were rattled and Liverpool came close again in the 26th minute as they poured forward again.

The Barca stopper was the hero as he produced a brilliant double save to deny Bellamy and then Kuyt from close range, but he had his captain Carles Puyol to thank when he cleared John Arne Riise’s headed follow up off the line.

Barcelona had got out of jail again, but they were almost the creators of their own downfall when a hashed clearance from Valdes gave Sissoko a shot at an open goal from 35 yards and he was unlucky to see his instant shot bounce back off the crossbar again. The first half amazingly ended 0-0 – Liverpool had had ten shots to Barca’s one.

You wondered at half time whether the Reds would stick or twist in the second half, but they came out with the same attacking intent and created another chance almost immediately before Barca smuggled the ball clear.

We knew better though than to reckon against a Barcelona reaction and they promptly reminded us that they were still in this tie when Ronaldinho struck a free kick into the arms of Reina before wriggling free and hitting the post just a minute later.

Barcelona were threatening to turn it on. Their passing had become crisper and Messi was the next to test Reina’s reflexes, but Liverpool in turn grew more determined and Gerrard and Kuyt fired warning shots at Valdes goal in retaliation.

Gerrard came close again as the game crept into the last quarter, but Barcelona dragged themselves back into the tie when ex-Chelsea player, Eidur Gudjohnsen, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, danced around Reina before scoring.

Barcelona now had five forwards on the pitch and they were going for broke, but Liverpool had enough to hang on and they march into the Quarter Finals having once again made Europe sit up and take notice of them after another famous win.

From Liverpool FC.TV


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