Liverpool suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala as Lacina Traore spurred his team to victory at the Lokomotiv Stadium. Traore’s impressive individual finish came in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Liverpool have lost just three of their last 23 Europa League matches. The goal was just enough to see Hiddink’s men through and Liverpool see their Europa League progression hanging in the balance.
The Reds fielded a weakened side and had a number of key players rested as they look forward to Sunday’s mouth watering fixture with Chelsea, but manager Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed with his side’s lack of product in the final third. For security reasons, the match was scheduled at Dynamo Stadium in Moscow – 1,000 miles away from their main home ground.
In last month’s corresponding fixture, Anzhi lost to a superb long range effort from Stewart Downing. Brad Jones was in the Liverpool goal again this week and was called into action early on, easily taming Rasim Tagirbekov’s effort. The Liverpool keeper was called into action a few times, quickly off his line to deal with a lose ball and collecting aerial balls.
Anzhi had a few decent opportunities, winning free kicks in potentially dangerous positions and Samuel Eto’o's effort was well saved by Jones. However, in the 46th minute the deadlock was broken as Traore picked up the ball from 35 yards, flicked it over the head of Coates and charged to the edge of the penalty area, lifting the ball over the advancing keeper and rolling into an empty net.
After a poor first half, where Traore’s goal was undoubtedly the highlight of the game, Liverpool needed to get back on their feet. A double substitution saw attackers Dani Pacheco and Suso enter the game, as Liverpool injected pace and agility into a very slow-paced match.
Full back Flanagan was booked for a challenge on former Chelsea player Yuri Zhirkov. Anzhi continued to get the better of the Reds, and should have doubled their lead when Tagirbekov’s beautifully weighted ball picked out the 6ft 8 Traore, who failed to capitalize, heading the ball straight into the hands of Jones.
Joe Cole, who turns 31 today was close in grabbing an equalizer for Rodgers. A seemingly harmless ball was fumbled by the Makhachkala keeper, but he recovered well to save Cole’s follow up effort.
After a relatively poor game, the referee brought the game to a close.
As things stand, Anzhi replace Liverpool at the top with seven points. Liverpool sit in second place, level on points with Swiss side Young Boys, who they face next at Anfield.
Written by Farhan Daw
Follow him on Twitter @RarnieD
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