Both goalkeepers played in the same game on Sunday. But each enjoyed (or endured) a day that was the polar-opposite to that of his counterpart. Their contrasting fortunes offer a snapshot of those of their clubs — Liverpool FC and Newcastle United — at this moment in time.
The two goalkeepers are fixtures at the position for their clubs. Each has played every minute of every Premier League contest this season, but that will soon change.
Reina was sent off after pressure and frustration got the best of him. He faces a three-game ban that will cost him a place in LFC’s FA Cup semifinal on April 14. Meanwhille, fortune continued to bear its toothiest-grin for Krul.
The Reds lost for the sixth time in their last seven league outings. They sit eighth in the league, shockingly looking up the standings at neighbor Everton FC. A top-four finish now seems like a distant dream. Reality shows the Reds are closer to the drop-zone (14 points from safety) than they are from that final UEFA Champions League spot (16 points).
Newcastle romped to a 2-0 home victory over Liverpool, and are finely perched for a run at next year’s Champions League. It is sixth in the league (tied with fifth-place Chelsea on 53 points), just five points behind contenders Arsenal and Tottenham.
Reina was victimized by a goalkeeper’s worst enemies. Slackness at the back allowed Newcastle to find openings and create scoring chances. Papiss Cisse‘s finishing was of the highest order, and Reina had little chance to save either goal.
Krul has been praised for his consistent performances in goal this season. But the 23-year-old was nowhere near his best on Sunday. Heroic defending, attacking ineptitude and a little luck allowed the Dutch international to keep his 11th clean sheet (shutout) in 31 league games — third best in the league.
Andy Carroll‘s ninth-minute dive spared Krul from making a save. Six minutes later, Craig Bellamy‘s cross took a deflection as it was heading for the goal-mouth. Rather than catch or punch it, Krul unassuredly tried to parry it over the crossbar. It hit his hand, then hit the bar before it was cleared by a defender. In the 61st minute, Krul was caught off his line when Luis Suarez collected a loose ball and shot at the open goal.
James Perch bailed out his teammate, Krul, with a last-second sliding block. The Newcastle defender would soon find himself at the center of the madness when Reina’s much-lauded focus and composure abandoned him.
In the 81st minute, Reina made a save and quickly ran off his line to throw the ball to a teammate. Perch kicked his leg out and tripped the LFC goalkeeper. In a moment of rage, Reina went nose-to-nose with Perch before making a head-butting motion toward his opponent.
Perch fell to the ground and covered his hands with his face. Referee Martin Atkinson dismissed Reina, ending the Spaniard’s run of 16,463 minutes of consecutive league play. It was his first red card in over six years.
LFC manager Kenny Dalglish blamed Reina’s actions on frustration.
“He feels a bit of remorse,” Dalglish told LiverpoolFC.tv.
Times are certainly rough for Liverpool and its veteran goalkeeper. Their Premier League campaign is stalled on the side of the road, and they need everybody to help push it out of the ditch.
But Krul enjoyed all the trappings an in-form goalkeeper needs to survive an off-day. Good teams like Newcastle United always seem to get the breaks when they need them.
Review all the action from Sunday’s game in our Liverpool Live Blog.
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