Liverpool 1 (3) Ings 26'
Carlisle 1 (2) Asamoah 35'
So that was pretty terrible.
Liverpool came out with a strong XI in a 3-4-3, and immediately went forward, Roberto Firmino setting the standard for the rest of the game with a shot from 20 yards saved by the Carlisle goalkeeper. Ten minutes later, the Brazilian landed hard on his back in one of this writer's major football pet peeves; a player bending over in an aerial duel. When the other player goes up for the ball, this invariably leads to ugly falls and injuries, and a clearly hurt Firmino hobbled around the pitch for a while before finally being substituted for Divock Origi.
In the meantime, James Milner played the worst corner in the history of bad corners not taken by Iago Aspas or Kristoffer Hæstad, bright spot Danny Ings scored a nice header from about negative two yards after an excellent cross by Adam Lallana, and Carlisle exposed the combination of Milner in a holding role, Dejan Lovren on a football pitch, and the massive space between midfield and defence in this particular formation, predictably levelling the game on the counter. Adam Bogdan chose to leave his near post wide open for the special occasion.
From that point the match was a parody of Liverpool's play in the past 18 months; no penetration, no inventiveness, no sense of urgency, and an opposition team easily packing their box, forcing Liverpool into impotent shots from range. The home team ended the game with 47 shots, the majority of which came from beyond 20 yards, and none of which really troubled the visiting goalkeeper.
Receive pass. Take lots of touches. Get forced wide. Pass to immobile team mate. Stand around. Receive pass. Cut inside. Shoot terribly. Repeat ad infinitum. Occasionally get olé'd for minutes at a time by an away team 65 spots below you in the league system.
The apathetic haze that spread from the players to the fans to every poor sap suffering through this excuse of a football match was only lifted by a moment of horror 4 minutes from time, when Dejan Lovren went over on his ankle after an aerial duel and had to be stretchered off wearing an oxygen mask. It looked like the kind of landing that tears ligaments and threatens careers and one can only hope the much-maligned centre-half has a quick recovery.
There were penalties. Emre Can scored a really nice panenka one. Alex McQuade plastered one into the top corner. A bunch of other people missed. Adam Bogdan made some saves and Liverpool made it through to the next round. The players smiled. The fans like really didn't.
The clock is ticking on Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool career. This felt as much as a loss as progress in any competition can possibly feel, with Danny Ings the only player allowed to feel anything but terrible about his performance. Something is rotten at Anfield and it needs to be stopped before it gets worse.
As we wait for that to happen, or alternatively, brace ourselves for the next round of dystopian anti-footy, have a gander at Iago Aspas ruining Barcelona lives. Smile at that, if nothing else.
Iagoal Aspas https://t.co/8OWfAmZXVP— Celta De Vigo UK (@UKCelta) September 23, 2015