WE’RE RUBBING OUR hands together here at the prospect of some midweek European action.
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FULL TIME: Hearts 0 – 1 Liverpool
19.38 – Evening folks. We’re very close to kick-off at Tynecastle where Liverpool supporters have seemingly made a mass midweek migrations.
The big team news is that Andy Carroll is not even on the bench. Brendan Rodgers has put that down to a hamstring injury and the big man, himself looked happy enough when he was hanging round the tunnel.
Hearts: MacDonald, Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Paterson, Barr, Taouil, Novikovas, Templeton, Sutton.
Subs: Enckelman, Robinson, Driver, Gordon Smith, Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Robinson, Henderson, Adam, Spearing, Shelvey, Borini, Sterling.
Subs: Jones, Coates, Downing, Lucas, Allen, Flanagan, Morgan.
19.47 – KICK OFF: The Premier League side are all in their black and grey kit, Hearts are in white. Not confusing at all, apparently that’s because all of Liverpool’s kits (some more garish than others) managed to clash with Hearts’ maroon ensemble.
19.51 – Five minutes have passed now and both sides are feeling their way into the game. Liverpool, as you’d expect have dominated the early possession – just as they did against West Brom before Zoltan Gera put a spanner in the works.
19.52 – Tut, tut, tut. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.
Carragher very nearly hands Hearts an early advantage, his back pass from the right-hand flank is weak, but he is bailed out by Reina’s 20 yard dash.
19.55 – Charlie Adam gets the Reds on the front foot, testing MacDonald with a low left-foot drive. Borini follows up but his cut-back is diverted behind for a corner which Shelvey wastes.
20.00 – Hearts have raised the noise levels. First testing Reina from distance before, Sutton flashed an 18-yard shot wide.
20.03 – Yeah, Liverpool definitely living dangerously now.
Templeton makes a run in behind Spearing, and Carragher was not quick enough to close him down before he unleashed a left-foot strike to whistle past the post.
20.10 – 22 mins. You can consider the early storm, weathered by Liverpool. The crowd has quietened right down as Liverpool once again get settled on the ball. Adam draws a free kick just inside Hearts’ half and the ball is worked through toward Borini. Grainger stretched to keep the ball from the Italian, and it rolls a foot wide of the post with MacDonald looking very uncertain of his position.
20.21 – Oooh, the first big opening created by either side; though it was not an easy chance by any means, for Borini.
Jordan Henderson whipped in an excellent ball from the right, dipping just outside the near corner of the six-yard-box. The Italian was sliding in and made contact, but it was thick contact and the ball bounced harmlessly wide of MacDonald’s right-hand post.
20.28 – Big penalty claim from Hearts there as Webster meets a corner at the edge of the area. His header hits Carragher at point-blank range, but the veteran defender had turned his back.
In fact, it was debatable whether it actually hit is arm just the back of his rib-cage.
20.32 – HALF TIME and Liverpool should be ahead. Sterling, who has been one of the better visiting players, intercepted a woeful cross-field pass from Grainger to go through two-on-one.
Sterling took the right option, squaring to the free Borini, but the Italian slammed his shot against the post. A let off for Hearts.
20.48 – The second half is underway, a few calm heads in front of goal wouldn’t go amiss here for Brendan Rodgers’ side. It would certainly ease the pressure. He won’t want to go into a meeting with Manchester City with two defeats to his name.
21.00 – Ten minutes into the second half and we’ve sunk into a lull in this game. It’s that tetchy period when fear sets in.
But, wait: That man Charlie Adam is waddling into the final third and elects to ignore Henderson’s run on the right flank. His right-foot shot bounces a foot wide. Decent effort, and Hearts have just pitched in one to match.
21.03 – But on that Adam shot…
Stuart Downing is now in the game, he replaces Jack Robinson and the winger appears to be dropping straight into left back. Perhaps Rodgers feels he’ll only get in the way higher up the pitch.
21.09 – Here comes Joe ‘he’s like a Spanish player’ Allen. Can he act the matador for this raging bull of Midlothian. He has replaced Jonjo Shelvey.
21.17 – 15 minutes to go at Tynecastle and , to be honest, there’s not a great deal to report. Liverpool are beginning to show their class and controlling the game in these late stages.
But it remains young Sterling who seems their best chance of creating an opening. His touch ahs been assured all evening. Stuart Downing had better get used to left back.
21.18 – GOAL: Hearts 0 – 1 Liverpool (Webster OG ’77)
And there it is. A goal that should define this tie. Martin Kelly galloped down the right flank to get on the ball. He whipped in an early low cross along the six-yard line. It narrowly evaded Borini and bounced up onto the shin of Webster who had no chance of reacting quick enough to divert the ball anywhere else.
21.30 – Frustratingly for the home support, both sides appear to have settled for this result, but luckily we still have the exuberance of Raheem Sterling to light up the screen.
He ‘s relishing the tired legs before him and brilliantly makes space for himself after cutting in off the left. the shot, is the only disappointment, it goes harmlessly wide of the neat post.
Up the other end, hears finally muster a late surge and the ball drops 12 yards out for McGowan. The shot is scuffed and easy for Reina to collect
21.32 – And another late chance at the death for the Scottish side. Paterson taking advantage of Downing’s inexperience (and literal weakness) in defensive position to make room for a powerful shot across goal. Tipped away by Reina.
Three minutes of injury time here.
21.37 – FULL TIME: There you have it, folks. Jamie Carragher looks wrecked after that, but Liverpool have hung on and will take a valuable away goal back to Merseyside.
Though Hearts had chances tonight, it is very difficult to see how they can put in a performance that will upset the Reds in front of the Kop. So the Reds will be involved in the Europa League’s next phase.
That’s all from me. G’Night.