Round-up of the night’s Champions League matches.
Liverpool 2-1 Juventus
Anfield sent shivers down the spines of many in an emotional night for for the Liverpool faithful.
Uefa have praised Liverpool for the way the club handled the first meeting of Juventus and Liverpool since the Heysel disaster. The pre-match preparations ran smoothly and were very heartfelt, the one minute silence was met with respectful applause from the Juventus travelling fans.
The only sour moment of the night was when a small section of the Juventus fans turned their back on Phil Neal and Ian Rush’s banner of friendship, also some of the Juventus fans booed Liverpool during a rendition of‘ You will never walk alone.’
On the pitch, the game lived up to expectations and provided a spectacle to complement the occasion.
Liverpool threatened from the outset with a high tempo game which rattled the visitors. Milan Baros set the tone, earning a corner in the first minute of the game. Rafael Benitez’s side took the lead through a stunning left foot volley from none other than Sami Hyppia. The Finnish international had lost his place in the side to Pellegrino of Argentina but with lion-hearted performances like last night’s, the towering centre half should win his place back in the starting line-up.
Baros tested the keeper a couple times before Liverpool made it 2-0 through another special strike. The surprise selection, Anthony Le Tallec played a looping ball which went over Milan Baros and bounced up in the path of the onrushing Luis Garcia, who hit a lightning left foot volley into the top corner of the net.
Juventus sent Liverpool a warning just after the Garcia goal, when Zlatan Imbrahimovic hit a snap shot which hit the post. Del Piero also saw a goal disallowed for offside, although television replays confirmed that the Italian had been standing in an onside position.
In the second half Liverpool, perhaps understandably, failed to keep up the tempo which they set in the first half. As they started to tire, Juventus were able to gain a foothold, and began to show glimpses of their potential.
The goal came on 62 minutes, a cracking cross from Zambrotta and a leap at the far post from Cannavaro. The inexperienced Liverpool keeper, Scott Carson, making his Champions League debut dived too early, and the header slipped in. It was an error from Carson who had looked outstanding on the night, denying Del Pierro in the first half with an instinctive save.
Benitez and skipper Stevie Gerrard remain confident their side can finish the job in Turin, but it will be difficult. It was a special night and an emotional occasion – the type of game which makes the Champions League so special.
Lyon v PSV Eindhoven
Lyon took the lead through Florent Malouda after a neat lay off and good work from ex-Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord. Florent has broken into the French national side this season and is making a name for himself in Europe.
Lyon pressed in the first half and had much the better of the chances. Sydney Govou was guilty of missing an absolute sitter and the highly-rated Ghanaian international Michael Essien let two good chances go begging. PSV keeper Gomes made a mistake spilling a shot and centre back Bouma had to help out the inexperienced keeper, as PSV looked nervous and edgy throughout the first half,
However, as the PSV boss Guss Hiddink admitted afterwards, it was a ‘game of two halves,’ PSV looked stable and were able build and grow after the interval. They got their reward for good organisation when ex-Barcelona man Philip Cocu made Lyon rue their earlier misses when he played a one-two with Park Ji-Sung and produced a low curled shot which beat Gregory Coupet. The balance of the tie swung back in PSV’s favour.
The next tie in Holland will be interesting, with Lyon needing to stay in the tie, it promises to be an exciting evening in Eindhoven.