Sparta Prague 0 Liverpool 0
Liverpool 1 Sparta Prague 0
Two games, 180 odd minutes of football and the whole shebang is decided with a single goal five minutes before the end of the second game. Dirk Kuyt’s 85th minute winning goal was a long time in coming but was the sweeter for coming at a time when it would have been difficult for Sparta to get the goal that would have put them in the next round of the competition.
To be honest they didn’t look like scoring in either of the matches so you could be quietly confident that if we did manage to break the deadlock then we could probably prevail and win the tie. The first game was nothing to write home about with neither team seeming to want to actually win the game, which was odd considering if we had scored it would have counted for double in the event of a draw in the second leg.Not even Sparta seemed to want to take the bull by the horns in the first game either; it was highly forgettable all round.
In the second leg we went out knowing that we couldn’t afford to let Sparta score and that we had to get a goal if we didn’t want the match to ultimately go to penalties. The second leg was a much better, faster paced game than the first had been with both teams actually making the effort to try and go forward and make an impact on the match. We came close a couple of times in the first half but to no avail and the first half ended still at stalemate.
To be honest it was the same old story for much of the second half, and I was convinced that this match would have to be decided by penalties, but then Dirk Kuyt stepped up to the plate and score the goal which would turn out to be the winning goal.
We could have added another couple of goals before the end of the match with Joe Cole having a shot snatched from him by David NGog and then Cole going through himself unmarked but neither of them ended up in the back of the net unfortunately and we had to keep hold of our slim lead till the final whistle, which we were able to do, and take our place in the last 16 of the Europa League, ever closer to winning the trophy for the fifth time in its history.