Martin Skrtel is living proof that soccer can take players on a roller-coaster ride.
Skrtel scored the game-tying goal in the dying moments of Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Sunday at Anfield. Skrtel ended the day by striking gold, but the contest also brought pain and misfortune to the Slovakian defender.
Skrtel, 30, undoubtedly was agonizing after Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy out-jumped him and scored the game-tying goal less than two minutes after Liverpool had taken the lead. The dramatic turn of events on the stroke of halftime was just the beginning of Skrtel’s time in the spotlight.
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Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud made Skrtel’s day worse in the second half. Giroud sent Skrtel to the ground in the 53rd minute with a challenge and accidentally stepped on the Liverpool center back’s head. The massive gash could have forced Skrtel out of the game, but doctors took six minutes and used plenty of bandages to return him to playing condition.
Skrtel then watched in horror as Giroud swept home the go-ahead goal in the 65th minute. Skrtel might have prevented Giroud’s goal if he was better positioned or reacted quicker, but he never was going to have an uneventful game.
Liverpool pressed in vain for the equalizer for the next half-hour. The Reds’ attackers couldn’t beat Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, but Skrtel put the finishing touches on the thrilling game when he thundered home a header seven minutes into the nine minutes of added time.
The goal was Skrtel’s first of 2014-15. Skrtel scored seven Premier League goals in 2013-14 — five of them after New Year’s Day. Liverpool’s wounded warrior could have more dramatic moments in store this term if Sunday’s game is any sort of barometer.