Thursday 29 September 2016

Same old, same old for Liverpool as 10-man Rubin Kazan frustrate Jurgen Klopp's side

Carl Markham

Published 22/10/2015 | 22:14

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp applauds fans after the game
Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp applauds fans after the game Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine

Jurgen Klopp's Anfield debut ended in a frustrating draw against 10-man Rubin Kazan as Liverpool registered their third successive 1-1 Europa League draw.

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With all the focus still on the new manager it was Liverpool's other, somewhat forgotten, German, Emre Can, who delivered with an equaliser just before half-time to cancel out Marko Devic's surprise opener.

Their numerical advantage - Oleg Kuzmin was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 37th minute - should have produced a winner but for all the new-found positivity even a manager as accomplished as Klopp will take time to correct endemic failings.

His side did have a greater air of confidence about them and the watching principal owner John Henry, making a rare trans-Atlantic trip, will not be alone in hoping that will soon translate into results.

There was a noticeable difference in approach at least in terms of team selection, however, as Klopp made just one change from the side which drew at Tottenham on Saturday.

It was exactly a year since Liverpool lost 3-0 at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League but just five of that line-up started against the Russians, placed 12th in a league of 16.

Can came on as a substitute that day but the midfielder, shunted around by Klopp's predecessor Brendan Rodgers, has been restored to his natural home in midfield - even if he did not look entirely comfortable on the left of a midfield three.

Kazan's goal emanated from his area of the pitch as right-back Olek Kuzmin's cross-field ball picked out Devic who controlled on his chest before poking high past Simon Mignolet.

However, Can had a significant hand in winning the free-kick which led to the equaliser, effectively buying a foul off Kuzmin which resulted in the Rubin captain's second yellow card in the 37th minute.

The German then anticipated perfectly as Philippe Coutinho's set-piece came off Blagoy Georgiev, pouncing to convert from close range.

Klopp celebrated the first goal of his reign with arms outstretched, Messiah-like, before turning to the Main Stand and punching the air.

It was virtually one-way traffic against the 10 men after the break but Nathaniel Clyne's dithering cost the hosts the chance of a second when slipped in by James Milner.

The 63rd-minute arrival of Christian Benteke for his first appearance in a month gave Liverpool more presence up front as it was playmaker Coutinho and not striker Origi who made way.

Benteke should have marked his return with a goal but volleyed over Clyne's cross and then hit the post with a first-time shot 10 minutes from time.

Liverpool lay siege to Rubin's goal late on - aside from one Igor Portnyagin free-header which flew fortuitously wide - without success.

Old habits, it seems, die hard.

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