Liverpool FC 2, Birmingham City 2: Reds lack a knock-out punch
AND so continues one of the most curious records in Rafa Benitez's Anfield reign - but what else did you expect when Birmingham's visit was switched to a Monday night? While Liverpool's manager has savoured many famous triumphs in the 202 Premier League matches he has taken charge of, and claimed all the biggest scalps, the only team he has not beaten are the Blues from England's second city. What's more, bizarrely, Benitez has never tasted success in a game on the first day of the working week here; throw into the equation that Birmingham had a striker by the same name in their ranks and, perhaps, it was inevitable Liverpool's misery would continue. Quite how that happened will be causing Benitez much consternation today; dominant in possession, determined in their work, Liverpool could have won in a canter; instead they required all their inner strength - and a slice of luck - to haul themselves off the canvas It's easy to harp on about bad luck or blame poor results on the fact fate has dealt a fickle hand but you only needed to see the way Liverpool began this contest, passing and moving with confidence, the difference a clearing sick bay made. Take Glen Johnson. Prevented from playing at Fulham or in Lyon due to a torn calf muscle, he showed precisely what had been missing on the right side of the field with a couple of energetic, skilful forays to put the Reds on the front foot. His main job, of course, is to stop goals but Johnson has shown with great regularity since arriving here that he is just as effective at creating them, his searing pace, superb control and shuffling feet are becoming increasingly potent weapons. Try as they might, Birmingham found it almost impossible to put the shackles on Johnson in the opening exchanges and it was no surprise he was involved heavily in the move which enabled the Reds to poke their noses in front.
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