Chelsea Vancouver 3 Liverpool Vancouver 3
(Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties)
Chelsea have an excellent recent history with penalties (just think back to Munich in May 2012). That track record did not make its way across the Atlantic as the Vancouver team lost 4-2 in the shootout to our local Liverpool rivals.
Too bad; yet the news was tempered by that of Didier Drogba potentially signing a one-year deal this week to show Lukaku how to play as a lone striker.
This was the eighth game of the annual series, and has to have been one of the best. It was played in an excellent spirit, and with spells of genuinely good football. One by Chris Rowley in the second half in particular, weaving past at least four floundering red shirts, will live in the memory for the summer.
The first half saw Blue domination, but little end result. David in goal hardly saw the ball for long periods, Chris hit a post, there was plenty of pressure, so it was almost inevitable that Liverpool scored with their first concerted attack. A wicked near-post cross caused confusion in an until then unflappable back four, and a Red scooped in the loose ball. 1-0.
Back came Chelsea. The pressure built again, and Chris Sargent, who marshalled the defence alongside Kevin for the whole 90 minutes, fired home from a poorly cleared corner. It was his first excursion upfield of the game, “giving him a nosebleed”. Game on.
The second half began in similar fashion and when Matt Robinson pulled off a smart turn and shot into the bottom left corner, it seemed as if the Blues would win for the fifth year in a row. Then—pandemonium: Liverpool played three up front and got two goals in a minute. Words such as Istanbul were being bandied about the on the Red sideline.
Chelsea had to strive once more to search for an equalizer. Gerry got out his black book of Mourinho tactical substitutions to ring the changes. Liverpool dropped deeper, and then almost applied the killer blow on a breakaway but David pulled off a triple scrambling save to deny the Liverpool forward from five yards out. Incredible stuff. So when Stuart finally found the way through to make it 3-3, the momentum was with the Blues.
The full-time whistle brought confusion while the teams debated what to do next: many favoured a golden goal period of extra time, but with more than half of the Liverpool team playing a second game at 4pm, penalties was the fairer way to go for their legs.
We won’t list the Chelsea players who missed their spot kicks here. They have to be content in joining Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate with Pizza Hut advertisement contracts for their misfortune.
Full credit to the Liverpool lads for the win, and for the spirit and way they played the game. It was a fun game to play and watch, and we can look forward to two games again next year.
Next up is the Donnelly Group eight-team tournament on August 16. We will need at least 15 players again as it switches between 7 and 11-a-side. Please get in touch with Gerry and Mat Loup if you can play. Players always welcome!
Big thanks also to the Donnelly Group for hosting the game and then laying on the post-match food and drink at the New Oxford. Much appreciated by players (and fans)