19 September 2007


Liverpool escaped with a precious point from a dreadful performance in their opening Champions League Group A clash against Porto in the Estadio Dragao.
Liverpool, particularly in the first period, were just awful and at times Porto threatened to over-run them.

Porto made a more orthodox opportunity from a corner when Sami Hyypia failed to clear an inswinging cross and the ball came back to Quaresma whose powerful drive flew over Reina's goal.
Hyypia, surprisingly restored to the back four in favour of Daniel Agger, was at fault for the night's opening goal when he allowed Tarik Sektioui to sprint behind him to reach Quaresma's neat pass into the Liverpool penalty area.
The poor Finn was treading water as the Dutchman powered into the area, forcing Reina way off his line and into a hurried challenge which brought Sektioui to his knees.

The Anfield men played the final 32 minutes with 10 men after Jermaine Pennant tested the patience of referee Michel Lubos once too often with a frustrated, fractious display that cost him two yellow cards.
Porto had led early on through a Lucho Gonzalez penalty but had to thank Dirk Kuyt for a priceless header on 17 minutes.
That gave Liverpool something to cling onto, and they at least managed that level of resilience when it mattered.
As it was the heroes were the hard-working Kuyt and dependable defender Alvaro Arbeloa as Porto failed to find a way through.
Last season's beaten finalists looked a shambles in the opening period, a segment of play as bad as anything they have produced under Rafael Benitez.

"I honestly don't know why we started so badly," said Benítez, his obvious relief a stark contrast to the frustrated Porto manager, Jesualdo Ferreira.
"We gave the ball away too easily, made so many mistakes, but we showed a lot of character with 10 men and it is not easy against a good Porto team with pace and ability." So bad was Liverpool's opening it was tempting to believe their change in fortunes this season has not been confined to an improved domestic campaign, or that they have become fixated on the Premier League title at the expense of all other trophies.
Benítez's team were unrecognisable from the disciplined unit that has reached two Champions League finals in the past three seasons and began as they have never performed on the continent under the Spaniard before, shambolically.

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