Liverpool’s Champions League ambitions were dented Wednesday with a far from impressive 0-0 draw in Belgium against Standard Liege. If it wasn’t for a penalty save by Jose Reina and a missed goal by the Norwegian ref Tom Henning Ovrebo, Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez would be telling his U.S. owners that the £20m that they would get for qualifying for the Champions League group stages was in serious doubt.
Liverpool gave Italian full-back Andrea Dossena and £20million new boy Robbie Keane their competitive Liverpool debuts, but the much-vaunted Fernando Torres and Keane was practically non-existent all game.
The Liverpool defense was unusually rocky and the Belgian champions could easily have won this game 3-0 if it was not for Reina.
Rafael Benitez admitted his relief at the desperate goalless draw Liverpool achieved to keep their Champions League dreams alive.
“The real surprise for me was the way Liverpool played. The only positive to take from the match was the fact that we did not concede a goal. This game was far more difficult than we expected. And Jose Reina was the man of the match.”
Liege could easily have won by two or three goals, but Liverpool now know they have the chance of progressing to the lucrative group stages in front of their own fans.
Wednesday 27th August is the date for the return leg at Anfield. Liverpool need a full and vocal Kop for this one or they face the possibility of flowing Glasgow Rangers with a disastrous exit from this competition in the qualifiers.