Full time, 1-1: Babel is released on the left, but he is forced to send it back to Lucas and Steaua clear and then counter — last gasp stuff now. The ball goes back to Liverpool, and Babel makes a run from the left through center, but Steaua cut it out and attempt to move forward themselves. A poor pass from left to right by the Romanians gives Liverpool a throw in their half. They give Steaua a throw in their half shortly thereafter — that's that. 1-1. The match has ended, but Liverpool is now nearly guaranteed to have won Group K.
89, 1-1: Liverpool have a chance to attack — winning a deep throw on the right. They win a corner — Pacheco strikes it well, but Steaua clear before winning an offsides. Lucas comes on for Pacheco.
85', 1-1: Getting late now and neither team looks particularly capable of scoring. Steaua continue to possess more of the ball, but Liverpool's defense has looked tighter since conceding — a lot of harmless possession for the Romanians. Tanase shoots from long range, but Reina saves.
81', 1-1: Steaua charge forward with a run up the right, but the cross comes to no avail. They, however, maintain the pressure. Eccleston on for Jovanovic — whose head is responsible for Liverpool's only goal. Surdu off for Szekely. Yellow card for Bonfim after Eccleston charges in on a counterattack — though it's hard to see where the foul is. The set piece from midfield goes for a goal kick.
77', 1-1: Eventually, they turn it over to Liverpool with a poor through-pass, but they are soon back on the ball. Ngog on for Joe Cole — who wasn't particularly convincing in his return. Liverpool and Steaua both look passive and negative at the present.
73', 1-1: Steau rushes forward and get by the defense on the left with three men in the box. Reina critically collects the cross — a dangerous attack. The teams trade possession in midfield, and Steaua controls, but they cannot find a way in — they are stuck in midfield.
69', 1-1: Steaua finally go forward for the first time since their equalizer. The attack is short-lived, and Liverpool build from the back. The teams trade possession in midfield with little danger created. The game's pace has slowed since Liverpool's post-concession flurry.
65', 1-1: Perhaps, Liverpool will go back on the attack now that the points are no longer theirs. They immediately look more dangerous — holding offense forwards and looking for runs in the area. They've even won a corner, taken by Aurelio. Steaua clears. Liverpool win another corner shortly thereafter. The tide has turned rather immediately. Kyrgiakos hits the crossbar with his headed effort — so close.
61', 1-1: Steaua win a corner off a crazy deflection on a cross that nearly loops into the net. The corner is too deep and Liverpool clear for a throw. Their cross is dangerous, but Liverpool again clear. Steau go back forward, and a ball deflected from the right side of the box is headed by Bonfim. Reina's vision is blocked, and the ball trickles through his legs. Goal. Steau. Bonfim — unfortunate. Reina is livid.
57', Liverpool 1-0: Liverpool finally get an attack going — Babel sees his first touches of the half, but Liverpool is forced to send it all the way back to Reina. After he kicks long, Steaua wins it and sets up shop in the final third. They pass it around well, but the final ball is slightly too heavy to connect, and Reina gets to it. Steaua gets right back on it, and attack down the right, but Reina collects the cross.
53', Liverpool 1-0: Kelly concedes a corner. Steaua takes it short, but it is thereafter sent in well and headed on to goal, but Reina saved. Steaua is more completely dominating these opening minutes than they had in the first half. Steaua get a free kick from the center of the Liverpool half, but it is taken way high.
49', Liverpool 1-0: Angelov on for Bicfalvi for Steaua. Steaua immediately win a free kick on the right of the area. The piece is dangerous as it forces Reina out of position, but Steaua has to collect it on the far side. A shot on goal is deflected away, and Liverpool eventually clear.
Half Analyis: Liverpool are pretty lucky to be enjoying a 1-0 lead, which must be said to be highly against the run of play. Steaua has had the ball upwards of 60 percent of the game, and they have won eight corner kicks. Remarkably, the Romanians haven't been able to put a single effort on target. This match can surely go down as being one of the back-footed, ugly performances that Liverpool have not-so-occasionally offered thus far in 2010. The play in midfield is nearly non-existent. Still, Liverpool is playing to counter, and the counterattack has looked wide open thus far. Liverpool have created some danger on counters, and if Steaua continue to press, they'll be in grave danger of going down 2-0. A major bright spot in the first half has been Ryan Babel, who created the opening goal with a perfect cross and has been the focal point of the attack thus far.
Half, Liverpool 1-0: The teams trade the ball before the attack is again set up through Babel, but Steaua win it and send another cross to the center. It is a beautiful ball, and Stancu beats Kyrgiakos for it. He gets the ball down with a chance to finish just a few yards from goal, but he boots it wide past the post — should have scored. Steaua gnerate a couple more half chances down the left side, and win a corner in so doing. They take it short — not unwise considering their incompetence on normal corners thus far. It comes to nothing. Half time.
43', Liverpool 1-0: Steaua continue to attack, and Jovanovic concedes a corner after winning the ball near the flag. This corner is actually on target, but it is still cleared easily. Steaua's rebuild results in a dangerous cross from the left and a stinging shot wide from the top of the area — tenuous stuff from Liverpool. Babel wins a throw on the other end after the goal kick.
39', Liverpool 1-0: Steaua attack up the left, but their low cross in is too deep and right to Reina. The Romanians build from deep in their side under light pressure. Their longball results in a corner. The set piece creates some danger, but ultimately leads to a goal kick for Reina. The teams trade longballs thereafter. Steaua rove into the Liverpool half without much intent, but a deflection gives them another corner — which is cleared all the way to their defense. Liverpool briefly take possession, but turn it over for another dangerous Steaua break. The ball goes back and forth on breaks that come to nothing until Steaua shoot way high from the left for a goal kick.
35', Liverpool 1-0: Kyrgiakos is forced to give Steaua their fourth corner of the match. It goes right to Reina. Liverpool counters again with a lot of space. Babel wins Liverpool's first corner as a result. It comes to nothing — Steaua goal kick.
31', Liverpool 1-0: Steaua concede possession in their own half, but escape again without a clear Liverpool chance — they are looking a bit shakier now. Still, the Romanians attack again down the right. The cross in is collected by Reina. Liverpool's counter develops quickly, but Cole and Babel can't link up — despite the space. Liverpool rebuild, but concede the ball at midfield. After a throw, Steaua again make a run towards goal but the final ball with two men in the area is intercepted, and Steaua are forced to rebuild.
27', Liverpool 1-0: Steaua keeps on the front foot, but concedes a sure-goal counter — with two men behind the Romanian defense. Somehow, Joe Cole and Dani Pacheco fail to score — nobody pulled the trigger until Steaua was back on defense.
23', Liverpool 1-0: Babel continues to cause problems for Steaua up the right. Steaua, however, are still dangerous as well — shooting high from a huge opening at the top-left of the box and then maintaining pressure and possession off the goal kick. Steaua send a long cross in from the left, and Reina collides with the attacker, but is awarded a goal kick.
19', Liverpool 1-0: Steaua are causing some problems with their press, forcing Reina to longball from the back. Liverpool make an incisive run up the center before Babel is picked out on the right. He holds at the edge of the box and beats the defender to cross in. Jovanovic gets his head on and beats the keeper far post. Goal! Jovanovic.
16', 0-0: Steaua win another corner and while it is too deep, they hold the attack in at the top of the box and generate a clear chance — a header right in front of Reina struck too high. Goal kick.
12', 0-0: The match has begun tentatively for Liverpool, with Steaua controlling most of the ball and winning a couple of corners — two thus far.
12:30 p.m.: Hodgson is indeed planning on featuring Dani Pacheco — a rarity — matching him with Ryan Babel and Milan Jovanovic on the attack. Joe Cole will also play, but not as an attacker, but in a more traditional midfield role.
Only Pepe Reina will maintain his usual first-team spot. The rest of the squad will be players looking to provie their worth.
Here are the complete lineups:
Pepe Reina, (25) goalkeeper
Sotirios Kyrgiakos, (16) defender
Fabio Aurelio, (6) defender
Martin Kelly, (34) defender
Danny Wilson, (22) defender
Joe Cole, (10) midfielder
Christian Poulsen, (28) midfielder
Jonjo Shelvey, (33) midfielder
Ryan Babel, (19) forward
Milan Jovanovic, (14) forward
Dani Pacheco, (12) forward
Brad Jones, (1)
John Flanagan, (38)
Martin Skrtel, (37)
Jack Robinson, (49)
David Ngog, (24)
Nathan Eccleston, (39)
Cristian Tatarusanu, (12) goalkeeper
Alves Washington Regufe Geraldo, (23) defender
Bonfim Jose de Oliveira Eder, (29) defender
Iasmin Latovlevici, (14) defender
Florin Gardos, (6) defender
Banel Nicolita, (16) midfielder
Ricardo, (21) midfielder
Eric Bicfalvi, (26) midfielder
Cristian Tanase, (10) midfielder
Romeo Surdu, (24) forward
Bogdan Stancu, (28) forward
Cezar Andrei Lungu, (33)
Ifeany Emeghara, (3)
Octavian Abrudan, (4)
Stanislav Angelov, (20)
Novak Martinovic, (18)
Cosmin Matei, (91)
Janos Szekely, (7)
12 p.m.: Liverpool have already virtually assured themselves a spot in the knockout round of the Europa League, but a win in Romania against Steaua Bucaresti, group K's second place squad, would guarantee them the top spot in the group. A draw would likely mean the same — given their large advantage in goal differential.
Given the circumstances, Roy Hodgson is set to give many of his younger players a chance to break into the first team. There will be no Fernando Torres or Dirk Kuyt — in addition to the club's injured players.
Danny Wilson and Sotirios Kyrgiakos will likely form the center back pair — with Fabio Aurelio and Martin Kelly as the backs, and Jonjo Shelvey will likely be in midfield. Joe Cole will return from his hamstring injury as well. Others such as Dani Pacheco and Nathan Eccleston may even find their way into the action.
Kickoff is a 1 p.m. E.T.
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