Tuesday 24 October 2017

Missed opportunities haunt off-colour Reds

Liverpool 1 FC Sion 1

Leo Lacroix of FC Sion and Divock Origi of Liverpool compete for the ball
Leo Lacroix of FC Sion and Divock Origi of Liverpool compete for the ball
Alberto Moreno of Liverpool is closed down by Leo Lacroix (L) and Laglais Kouassi of FC Sion
Danny Ings all alone with his thoughts after missing a chance

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool ought to get Volkswagen to sponsor their new Main Stand. They have so much in common as two of the greatest names in Europe suffering reputational damage.

For overseas visitors, Anfield has become far too hospitable. Basel ended the club's involvement in last season's Champions League and another Swiss side made a dent in their Europa League ambitions on another frustrating night as a pile of chances were squandered.

Adam Lallana scored after four minutes, but things deteriorated swiftly after that for manager Brendan Rodgers, who made seven changes.

Sion were branded "pathetic' and "embarrassing" by their own chairman after a domestic defeat last weekend, so little wonder the Anfield faithful went home disappointed yet again.

Liverpool's inability to overcome such average opposition has become a habit they can't shake off. This simply is not good enough for a side that built its name in UEFA competition.

Liverpool started well enough, with Lallana continuing the goalscoring form of Bordeaux.

Divock Origi showed some impressive pace down the Sion left before picking out the advancing midfielder, who picked his spot neatly.

As against Aston Villa last Saturday, the early momentum suggested it could be a comfortable match for the Reds and it might have been had Danny Ings taken a chance on 16 minutes after clever midfield play by Joe Allen.

The new England call-up attempted a clipped finish but was blocked by Pa Jagne. With that, the initial home dominance subsided and the usual defensive nonsense began.

Where to start with the atrocity of Sion's 18th-minute equaliser? There were Liverpool assists all over the place.

It began with Nathaniel Clyne gifting possession in midfield, and the most rudimentary chipped pass from Xavier Koussi casting Liverpool's defence as mere passers-by. Jordon Ibe belatedly noted the run of Ebenezer Assifuah. Too late.

There was still a tight angle for Assifuah to negotiate at The Kop end, but Simon Mignolet is not the most formidable in such situations. He was nutmegged with ease.


Ings had the ball in the net five minutes later - it was adjudged offside. Lallana needs to get Rodgers' attention after being left out of Premier League games, preferably by doing more than wearing multi-coloured boots.

Aside from his goal, he was as lively as anyone in blue and orange footwear, but the £11m signing Origi looks so raw you might catch salmonella poisoning just watching him.

Origi should have put his side ahead on the stroke of half-time, He had time and space to pick his spot but unfortunately had the look of a centre-half caught in unfamiliar territory rather than a natural finisher.

It was inevitable Rodgers would make a change and the first came at half-time with Alberto Moreno replacing Clyne. That might have had more to do with the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Most of the changes to the starting line-up did, with Daniel Sturridge and James Milner not even on the bench. The last thing Rodgers would have wanted was to summon Philippe Coutinho, who was the security option among the reserves.

Liverpool upped the pace in the early stages of the second half, Ings forcing 'keeper Andris Vanins into action and then, most spectacularly and more unbelievably, Kolo Toure attempted an overhead kick that did not end in ridicule. In fact, it hit the bar.

Origi hinted he is far more comfortable demonstrating his pace from wide position as he threatened on the hour, but there was a familiar lack of penetration. Against such modest opposition, the lack of goal threat without Sturridge was again a concern.

Inevitably, Coutinho was summoned on the hour. The Brazilian wears the number ten. He is called upon so often nowadays it might as well be 999.

A goal should have immediately followed with Allen again the supplier. He sent Origi clean through once more but again the composure in front of goal was lacking - as it was when Lallana added to the count of missed sitters. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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