Dramatic Merseyside derby draw should feel like a defeat for Liverpool


On Saturday at Anfield, two spectacular goals from both sides led to a 1-1 draw which will feel like a defeat to Liverpool’s fans.

Leading 1-0 heading into injury time, few could argue that Liverpool didn’t deserve to win the 223rd edition of the Merseyside derby. However, they failed to do so as Phil Jagielka hit a wonderstrike on the half-volley from 30-yards out to spark jubilant scenes among the small pocket of Everton fans at Anfield.

That goal left Livepool’s fans in disbelief, as lady luck just doesn’t seem to be with them this season.

[RECAP – Liverpool 1-1 Everton]

Liverpool are now three games without a win in the PL but certainly put in one of their best displays of the season so far and didn’t get what they deserved. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially when it’s your neighbors from less than a mile down the road who deny you a much-needed win. Speaking after the game, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers tried to stay positive but spoke about the disappointment of throwing away two points late on.

“It was very clear that we were much the better side today. When you concede a goal like that so late on, it epitomises the luck that went against us today. But I’m certainly very proud of the players.

“I thought the intensity was getting back up to near where we have been for 19 months. We took the lead, we should have arguably had at least two more and we should have had a penalty. It was disappointing, but I think the performance, which I’m clearly looking to at the moment, was at a much better level than we have been at.”

[VIDEO: Watch Gerrard, Jagielka score stunning goals]

On the other side of Stanley Park, Everton’s manager Roberto Martinez hopes Jagielka’s late goal, which canceled out Steven Gerrard’s stunning free kick in the 65th minute, will give his team the boost they desperatley need with just one win from six PL games so far this season.

The Toffees weren’t at their best, once again, but Martinez believes his side deserved a point.

“We showed incredible belief and character and we got our rewards,” Martinez said. “We had to show a great defensive intensity and we did that, though we weren’t ourselves going forward. As a result, I’d say it’s our best of the season so far because of what it could give us. It could lift us and change the dynamic of our season.”

Jagielka’s stunning right-footed howitzer may single-handedly help to turn Everton’s season around. The central defenders superb equalizer in injury time grabbed a point for the Toffees and Martinez hailed the England international.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a better strike in live football,” Martinez said. “It had to be incredible to go in the top corner and it was. The way he adjusted his body is very impressive. And to get that power almost off the outside of his laces – it’s some strike. Phil has had a lot of unfair criticism from the outside recently and there is no better way to respond to adversity than that, because defensively he also played an important role for us today.”

Whether or not you think Everton deserved a point, the fact that they got it will leave Liverpool’s fans, players and management walking away from Anfield with a bitter taste in their mouths on Saturday. They can take heart from an improved performance but with the Reds now nine points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, they have a mountain to climb if they’re going to replicate their success of last season.

It’s still early days for Liverpool but this ‘Derby Day’ draw should, and will, feel like a defeat.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

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That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

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Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

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Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).