Young Boys make too many mistakes
Europa League round-up:Liverpool escaped with their 41-year unbeaten record against Swiss teams intact but a sloppy defensive performance almost cost them in their 5-3 win over Young Boys in Group A of the Europa League. That Brendan Rodgers’ second-string side, which included a trio of debutants — two of whom were teenagers — scored five times was something of a surprise considering the struggles of the first-team this season.
They were given an early helping hand thanks to a comical own goal from Juhani Ojala and 19-year-old Andre Wisdom scored on his debut after Raphael Nuzzolo had equalised following a Jose Enrique error. But Ojala then headed in at the right end and Gonzalo Zarate made it 3-2 before the match turned around again when Sebastian Coates headed in and then Jonjo Shelvey scored twice.
It was the first time Liverpool had scored more than once in eight European away matches and their first in any group stage game away from home since beating PSV in December 2008.
The comedy started in the fourth minute when the Young Boys’ defence got themselves in a tangle for no discernible reason. Stewart Downing’s right-wing cross did not look to be threatening but Dusan Veskovac headed the ball back across goal and his central defensive partner Ojala headed in.
That was only the beginning as Wisdom’s inexperience at this level caught him out when he went to fetch the ball thinking he had a throw-in. While he was off the pitch a ballboy tossed another to Young Boys, who quickly restarted, leaving Wisdom — more accustomed to the reserve team where you fetch your own ball — running back on still carrying the ball he had chased.
But if that error was down to inexperience, Jose Enrique’s decision to dribble away from the hands of Brad Jones in the 38th minute was bad judgement as he passed straight to Nuzzolo — who drilled in a first-time shot before Jones had time to recover properly.
Wisdom, however, came to his defensive colleague’s rescue two minutes later when he produced a huge leap to head home Nuri Sahin’s corner. The goal was Liverpool’s 200th in this competition since they first took part in 1967-68.
The second half was less than 10 minutes old when Raul Bobadilla was given far too much room on the right to pick out the run of Ojala to head in at the far post. When Bobadilla outmuscled both Carragher and Suso, another debutant, to send Zarate down right the Argentinian neatly dinked over Jones.
Liverpool needed a quick response and it came within four minutes as Coates’ looping header crept in at the far post with substitute Fabio Borini claiming a touch which was barely — if at all — there. Borini had a more decisive influence on the next as he picked out Jordan Henderson’s run and the midfielder cut the ball back for Shelvey to fire home — and the same player added a similar second late on.
In Portugal, Shola Ameobi came agonisingly close to firing Newcastleto an opening victory as the woodwork and Maritimokeeper Romain Salin combined to thwart him. The 30-year-old, captaining a much-changed side at the Estadio dos Barreiros, hit both the post and the crossbar and saw Salin block another effort on a frustrating evening for the Magpies in Madeira as they were held to a 0-0 draw.