Blackpool cool Kenny Dalglish frenzy by beating Liverpool
Dalglish's side unable to prevent Blackpool recording their first league double over Liverpool since 1947
As the players walked out of the tunnel at Bloomfield Road the attention of the watching cameras wasn’t focused on the players heading for the pitch but rather the man heading for the Liverpool dugout.
It was supposed to be Kenny Dalglish’s big day, his first league game back in charge of Liverpool. But as has so often been the case this season Blackpool failed to read the script and secured a memorable victory over the Reds.
While there was a considerable improvement in Liverpool’s performance, a lack of cutting-edge in the final third and a shaky display from their makeshift back-four cost them dearly, with Dirk Kuyt and Milan Jovanovic failing to provide the support so desperately needed by Fernando Torres whilst Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger both made mistakes at the back.
It was another impressive performance from Blackpool, taking their underdog status and using it to their advantage, playing fantastic counter-attacking football that so often saw Liverpool attacking moves turned into goal-scoring opportunities for the hosts within the blink of an eye, with captain Charlie Adam, front man DJ Campbell and second-half substitute Matt Phillips all putting in top class performances.
In the build-up to the game Dalglish had been asked how he would reinvigorate an off-form Torres, the Scot responded: “Someone asked me if I had a magic wand for Fernando, I said I don’t need one, he has got one himself.” Just three minutes in the Spanish striker went some way towards proving his manager right, latching onto a well placed pass from Martin Kelly before firing a shot into the top left corner from a tight angle to give the visitors the lead.
But just over ten minutes after he had opened the scoring for Liverpool, Torres made the mistake which saw Blackpool equalise, misplacing a pass which Raul Meireles couldn’t control, allowing the Seasiders to break with Gary Taylor-Fletcher easily passing Daniel Agger before going clear through on goal and firing past stand-in captain Pepe Reina to bring the home side level.
Whilst Agger was subject to scrutiny for the goal, fellow Liverpool centre-half Martin Skrtel could have found himself facing the same criticism as he was beaten in the air by Campbell, who from deep inside the area headed well wide, much to the disappointment of the Blackpool supporters, and to the relief of the travelling fans.
Throughout the first half Liverpool showed the signs of improvement that many had anticipated following the arrival of Dalglish, passing the ball well along to ground and pressing higher up the pitch. Their efforts in the final third, however, were not as promising, with a number of miscued passes and poor first touches ensuring the Reds stayed level with their hosts, with Torres’ goal being their only shot on target in the first 45 minutes.
Ian Holloway’s side didn’t give the visitors an easy ride, quickly turning defence into attack and looking to trouble the Reds’ makeshift back-four of Kelly, Skrtel, Agger and Glen Johnson, with skipper Charlie Adam having one of the best chances of the half when he fired a low drilled shot towards Reina’s right-hand post where the Spaniard gratefully collected the ball which looked to be heading for the bottom corner.
The second half started with end-to-end football, with Liverpool patiently trying to work their way through the Blackpool rearguard whilst the hosts looked to create chances by breaking quickly on the counter. Blackpool’s counter-attacking style paid dividends with just over three quarters of the game gone when Campbell headed home from a Blackpool corner to put the Seasiders ahead.
Dalglish attempted to bring Liverpool back into the game with a couple of substitutions as the clock ticked down, bringing on Jonjo Shelvey to replace Kuyt and David N’gog for Christian Poulsen. But the damage was already done.