Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal: Late Reina Own-Goal Saves Gunners' Blushes Against Ten-Man Reds
A dramatic afternoon on Merseyside...
By Alex Fisher
David N'Gog scored the opening goal one minute into the second half, with Joe Cole being sent off just before the interval, but a Marouane Chamakh header caused Reina to fumble the ball into his own net right at the death. With seconds left on the clock, Arsenal debutant Laurent Koscielny picked up a second booking.
Hodgson named star striker Fernando Torres on the Liverpool bench, opting to start with David N'Gog up front. Summer Bosman signing Joe Cole was placed in a supporting role, while Milan Jovanovic also made his Reds debut in midfield. Present in the lineup was wantaway Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano.
Following a summer of transfer speculation Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas was not included in the matchday squad due to illness, while striker Robin van Persie began on the bench. New signings Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny made their top-flight debuts for the Gunners and teenage midfield playmaker Jack Wilshere also featured in starting line-up.
Both teams started the match in a positive manner and in the 5th minute Thomas Vermaelen had the first chance of the match when he tested Pepe Reina with a 30 yard free kick that the Spanish goalkeeper punched to safety.
Liverpool’s first opportunity of the match arrived in the 15th minute. A long ball from captain Steven Gerrard found Dirk Kuyt on right wing; the Dutchman played the ball inside to the overlapping Glen Johnson, whose cross was just behind an unmarked Cole in the 6 yard box.
Five minutes later a passing move from Arsenal down their left wing resulted in Samir Nasri playing a neat through ball find Emmanuel Eboue but the backtracking Gerrard made a crucial last minute challenge to deny the Ivorian midfielder.
The two were involved again a minute later when a tackle by Gerrard on Eboue gave Arsenal a free kick on the edge of the Liverpool area. However Nasri’s free kick flew straight into the wall and Vermaelen’s follow-up effort was well wide of Reina’s goal.
The home side were struggling to create any clear opportunities but in the 37th minute Jovanovic had a great chance to score on his debut. A long ball from the Liverpool defence was chased down by the Serbian midfielder but he fired his shot wide from inside the penalty area.
Liverpool were finishing the half the stronger and in the final minute a neat one two between Johnson and Kuyt gave the full-back a sight of goal but his 20 yard left foot strike was tipped over the bar by Manuel Almunia. From the resulting Gerrard corner Ngog saw his header from six yards cleared off the line by Clichy.
In the very last seconds of the half came the biggest moment of the match thus far as Joe Cole was sent off following a late challenge on Koscielny by the corner flag. Referee Martin Atkinson brandished a straight red card for Cole for the tackle which saw the Arsenal defender leave the pitch on a stretcher.
Koscielny was able to emerge for the second period, but he may wish that he didn't, for mere seconds after the restart Liverpool were 1-0 up. After some fine Liverpool play on the edge of the area, Mascherano played a neat ball into the path of N'Gog, who powered an excellent finish high into the net at the near post.
Minutes later the home side created another chance through Martin Skrtel. The Slovakian defender met a right wing free kick from Gerrard, but his header dropped wide of the right hand post.
In the 56th minute the home side created another chance as a free kick by Gerrard found Ngog inside the six yard box but the striker was unable to keep his header on target.
Despite having the extra man Arsenal were struggling to make any inroads in the second half which led to Arsene Wenger making two substitutions in the 60th minute. Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott replaced Eboue and Wilshere.
12 minutes after his introduction Walcott had his first chance of the match from a 25 yard free kick. A foul by Gerrard on Chamakh gave the England winger his chance from the left side of the penalty area but Reina made an easy save to his left.
Arsenal continued to press for an equaliser and they created another opportunity in the 77th minute. A low pass from Rosicky found Walcott inside the penalty area but as the substitute turned he stood on the ball which allowed Skrtel to clear the ball to Liverpool substitute Fernando Torres but the striker was muscled off the ball by Koscielny as they both chased the long ball forward.
In the 85th minute a tough challenge by Rosicky on Gerrard saw the Czech midfielder booked, although Gerrard appeared to leave his studs in the challenge and was lucky not receive his second booking of the match.
A minute later the visitors created their best chance of the second half – slick passing move by Arsenal, Rosicky played a one two with Chamakh but his right foot shot was well saved by Reina.
Arsenal continued to put pressure on the Liverpool defence and they very nearly equalised three minutes from time. A deep cross from Clichy found substitute Robin Van Persie at the back post but his cushioned header fell to a Liverpool defender in the six yard box.
But just as it seemed all was lost, Arsenal finally did get their equaliser. Chamakh looked to get on the end of a left wing cross and as the Moroccan striker challenged Reina on the six yard line the ball hit the goalkeeper and fell into the bottom corner of his net, resulting in an own goal.
In the last minute of injury time Koscielny handled the ball to prevent it from reaching Torres, with referee Martin Atkinson issuingthe defender with his second yellow card.
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- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match