Liverpool's set plays--both attacking and defending--has been a consistent source of disappointment this season. The Reds have simply been giving away cheap goals from corners and free kicks too easily, and haven't been banging them in on the other end. The reverse was true on Thursday night, as Liverpool conceded all three of their goals from open play, but managed to score the equalizing and winning goals on set plays.
This is not to say that Liverpool were dangerous at set plays as a whole Thursday night. In particular James Milner was responsible for some very poor deliveries throughout the night. Although the Reds created 11 corners (compared to Dortmund's 2), none of Milner's deliveries found his teammates in the box. The one corner that Liverpool scored from was on another poor delivery, this time by Philippe Coutinho. Also, Liverpool were temporarily down a player, and the goal was headed in by Mamadou Sakho, who hadn't scored for Liverpool in nearly a year and a half because nothing that night made any sort of logical sense.
Where was I? Oh yes, poor deliveries by Milner. Well, the midfielder and England international had a few things to say about that after the match.
"The first few [corners] went where they were meant to and there was no one there and the next few didn't," Milner said.
Well, OK then. I'm glad that's sorted.
Despite his poor returns on set play delivery, Milner was in many ways an unsung hero Thursday night, creating two crucial assists. The first was on an excellent 1-2 with Coutinho, freeing the little magician to fire a low curling shot into the far corner. The second came from pure hustle and quick thinking, finding Sturridge on a free kick, and then running about 50 yards to get on the end of his through ball, before picking out Dejan Lovren at the back post.
"It happens. I'm delighted. Studge held it up well. To be honest the hardest part was running from the halfway line as I was pretty tired at that point. A lot of people see me as a runner, but I feel creating goals is one of my qualities and hopefully I can keep doing it."
The two assists bring Milner to a team-leading 12 for the campaign in all competitions. With injuries to fellow midfielders Emre Can and Jordan Henderson, Milner's role on the team is likely to be even more significant in what could be a very exciting run-in. Time to take out the extra-nice tea cups, y'all.