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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Liverpool FC 2-1 Everton

The Red half of Merseyside Celebrate Reaching the FA Cup Semi Finals

The fans were in full song at Wembley Stadium in London on a lovely sunny day as Merseyside rivals Liverpool FC and Everton clashed in the FA Cup semi finals. Everton reintroduced goal scoring machine Jelavic after he was rested from a starting spot in their midweek home fixture against Sunderland while Liverpool were forced to start their third choice keeper Brad Jones due to their first and second choice keepers facing red card bans. The fans and players observed a moment of silence in memory of the Hillsbrough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives. Both teams respectfully wore the black armbands in memory of the victims.

The first half opened with fairly even possession from both sides. Liverpool were on the attack early on with Daniel Agger, who was playing out of position on the left hand side as a fullback, aiding in the Liverpool attack. Gerrard and Spearing held down Liverpool's midfield, but they clashed with Osman, Cahill and Fellani, who was playing back more than forward as Liverpool pushed towards the Everton goal. Their curse of not being able to find the back of the net continued to plague them and much to the displeasure of Dalglish, Suarez was repeatedly caught in offside positions. The red half of Merseyside were clearly the dominant ones, playing the majority of their passing game inside Everton's half but the Toffees would be the first ones to get themselves on the scoreline. A horrifying misunderstanding between Carragher and Agger in the Liverpool back line created a perfect turnover for Everton, the ball landing right at the feet of an onside Jelavic. The man who Moyes signed from Glasgow for £6m lived up to every penny as he slotted in a neat goal past Jones and gave Everton the 1-0 lead. Liverpool were on the attack immediately after, possessing the ball in Everton's final third for a solid five minutes but still failing to even threaten Tim Howard in the Everton goal. 

Agger was the best player for Liverpool in the first half despite being caught up in the misunderstanding with Carragher that lead to Everton's goal. He was continually involved in the attack and made several key tackles to break up play from Everton. He was matched up against Heitinga on the wing, giving the Dutch fullback a good run. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's captain, was still the main man that the Reds looked to for creativity and leadership. He held the midfield well and created several attacks. However, the veteran is obviously aging and although his touch and field sense didn't let him down, his tackles and runs were slower than they were in his glory days.

Phil Neville was pivotal in the Everton defense, beating Liverpool players to the ends of their own through balls and denying them several goal scoring opportunities. Leighton Baines was also a strong figure in the Everton defense. Osman and Jelavic enjoyed a good first half showing in the midfield despite the attacking possession being mostly in Liverpool's favor. Between the two of them they created many turnovers from Liverpool and then turned them into Everton attacks.

Andy Carroll opened the attack for Liverpool in the early minutes of the half, failing to put the ball past Howard and wasting a brilliant chance created by Liverpool's attacking force. Liverpool created several more chances for themselves by the 60th minute but their defense began showing signs of weakness in their defense, failing to clear the ball and creating chances for Everton much like the one Jelavic managed to get on the end of in the first half. An unfortunate defensive blunder from Distin on the Everton wing lead to Liverpool's goal in the 61st minute. Caught on his weaker right side, Distin passed the ball back to his keeper, failing to put enough pace on the pass to get it to Howard's feet. Suarez ran on to the ball with great pace and put it past Howard with a calm pass with the outside of his foot. The sides were level 1-1 each goal coming from a defensive blunder and a composed finish past the goalkeepers. Liverpool's momentum began to build and they continued to press forward. Liverpool's defense was still showing gaps and Everton were soon pressing the scattered back line as well. By the 70th minute, both Merseyside teams had made promising attacks and broken up dangerous plays. Liverpool had been the dominant side and after consecutive misses, they finally found their goal from none other than Andy Carroll, who was left unmarked in the box and rose to meet the corner kick from Craig Bellamy. Carroll's blind header found the back corner of Tim Howard's net and in the 87th minute, the better team of the second half had the 2-1 lead. Liverpool didn't stop pressing. Substitute Maxi Rodriguez nearly found the back of the net for the Reds again just minutes later but he was unable to finish. In the final minutes of regulation time, Liverpool forced more saves from Tim Howard and the scattered Everton defense, but the Reds were only able to get two goals into the back of the net. The second half finished out 2-1 in favor of the red side of Merseyside, who will march on to the FA Cup final against either Tottenham or Chelsea.

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