Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wigan v. Liverpool live updates

Liverpool goes into the game three points behind leaders Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League table. Robbie Keane, struggling to find a game with the Reds, is once again on the bench.

Wigan sits in 7th place, but are now playing with a different squad after the sale of striker Emile Heskey to Aston Villa and the anticipated sale of midfielder Wilson Palacios to Tottenham.

Wigan is without keeper Chris Kirkland, who failed a fitness test before the match. Michael Pollitt takes his place. The Egyptian striker combination of Amr Zaki and Mido is also on display.

Possession battle belongs to Liverpool at the 20 minute mark, but the game has been lacking for chances. The Steven Gerrard-Fernando Torres combo looks on point to produce a goal, however.

Javier Mascherano just showed his class by taking the ball cleanly away from Daniel de Ridder, who was doing a little too much dummying over the ball. De Ridder might be looking for a whole to crawl in after that one.

There's just something shaky in the back with Liverpool it seems. Most balls in the air seem like a real challenge to Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtl. We're in the 36th minute and although Liverpool can still say they have the better of the play, the tide has turned a little.

Mascherano this time with a brilliant little through ball into the box behind the Wigan defense, and Yossi Benayoun beat Pollitt to the ball and tucked it in from a tight angle wide to the right to give Liverpool the 1-0 lead near the 42 minute mark. Great touch by Mascherano.

Mido wins a free kick outside the Liverpool box, and does nothing with it. Liverpool does the same right before halftime, and Gerrard has a go from 30 yards out that just goes over the bar. Pollitt had no chance at that one. Halftime.

Mascherano keeping up his good play with another steal early in the second half. Maynor Figueroa gets a yellow card for a tough challenge - not his first such challenge of the match - which results in a Liverpool free kick. Alvaro Arbeloa's kick was struck well, but went right to Pollitt.

Wigan continues to work the aerial game, but Mido is too far out near the edge of the box to do much damage with his head.

Ryan Taylor with a free kick from 40 yards out that looked to be a good chance to play the ball deep into the box, but he played it well over the goal for a goal kick in the 60th minute.

Mascherano managed to get the ball wide right and sent went through the area that Pollitt had to send over for Liverpool's second corner. Amr Zaki broke free with the resulting corner, but poorly lost possession without even a pass attempt. Jason Koumas comes on for de Ridder in the 64th minute.

Israel international Benayoun made a great bid for a second goal with tremendous footwork and dribbling in the box but Pollitt managed a save and Wigan survived the resulting attempts.

Wigan's new signing, Hugo Rodallega of Columbia, is warming up and could come on at striker, probably for Mido who seems to be tiring.

Wigan earns a corner in the 70th minute which Zaki gets a head on but sends past the goal. Torres comes off (of course) but it's Albert Riera coming on for him and not Keane. No matter, as the ball comes down to Gerrard in mid-run, and his cross-goal shot went wide to Pollitt's right and also wide of the post.

Now it's Dirk Kuyt coming on for Benayoun after the goal scorer took a bit of a knock to the back of the head. He walked off the pitch fine. Here comes Rodallega, but for Zaki not Mido. Henri Camara comes on for Taylor, as Wigan adds another forward in its hope to avoid a third straight 1-0 loss.

Penalty! Lucas Leiva clips sub Koumas in the box, and Mido steps up. He scores! In his debut, sends Reina the wrong way and drills it in the bottom left.

NOW here comes Keane, and they need a goal or they will be 2 points behind Manchester United with United holding a game in hand. Rafa's throat is quickly closing.

Mascherano has been great all game, but he gave Wigan a free kick with a questionable foul (looked like he got a lot of the ball) right outside the box on the right side in the 91st minute. Rodallega drilled the free kick, but off the crossbar. It's only January, but that could have been Liverpool's league hopes if that went in.

Wigan gets a last chance on a Riera foul about 35 yards out. But Koumas' deliverance into the box is poor, and that's the game.

Liverpool packed it in too early taking out Torres and Benayoun while not bringing on Keane until it was too late. Liverpool was much the better side for the first 70 minutes, and should have went for the second goal to finish it out. Give Bruce credit for bringing on fresh, attacking legs and getting his side a 1-1 draw.