Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1: Joe Cole sees red as late Pepe Reina blunder gifts Gunners a share of the spoils at Anfield

August 15th, 2010

Oh no! Jose Reina scores own goal in the final seconds

Jose Reina’s own goal allowed Arsenal to snatch a draw from a thrilling Barclays Premier League opener at Liverpool this afternoon.

Liverpool looked to have overcome the sending-off of new signing Joe Cole and seemed set to claim victory with a David Ngog strike early in the second half at Anfield.

Flashpoint: Joe Cole is given his marching orders at Anfield on his Premier League debut for Liverpool

But as injury time approached Reina bundled the ball in after Marouane Chamakh had hit the post, and Arsenal also finished a man down after Laurent Koscielny was dismissed.

Arsenal talisman Cesc Fabregas was missing as the Gunners began their Barclays Premier League campaign at Liverpool this afternoon.

The Spain midfielder, linked with Barcelona throughout the summer, had been lacking match-fitness in the build-up to the Anfield clash and did not even make Arsene Wenger’s bench.

Holland forward Robin van Persie was at least included among the substitutes while Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny made their debuts.

Liverpool were boosted by the presence of star striker Fernando Torres on the bench after a groin injury and Javier Mascharano started despite expressing a desire to leave. The new wave of optimism at Liverpool, following the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager, was evident in the passionate atmosphere at kick-off.

But it was Arsenal who had the first shot on goal as Thomas Vermaelen tested Jose Reina with a fierce 30-yard free-kick after a handball by Mascherano. Dirk Kuyt created Liverpool’s first opportunity when he turned in the box but Manuel Almunia easily gathered his cross.

New signing Milan Jovanovic cut through the Arsenal midfield with a determined run but Kuyt’s final ball again found Almunia. Arsenal’s Samir Nasri had another long-range free-kick blocked and Vermaelen put the rebound wide.

Gael Clichy had Arsenal’s first serious chance from open play when he broke clear down the left after 30 minutes and fired a shot narrowly over from outside the box.

Liverpool thought an opportunity was opening up soon after when Almunia failed to claim a corner but referee Martin Atkinson spotted a foul by Daniel Agger on Vermaelen.

The action on the field was tight with neither side giving much away but Arsenal were almost caught when Jovanovic raced onto a long ball. With Cole walking back from an offside position, the Arsenal defence let the ball bounce and the Serbia international darted into the box, only to blast wide.

The game suddenly burst into life in the closing minute of the half.

Account open: David Ngog lit up Anfield with his strike

First Johnson had a shot tipped over by Almunia and Ngog then had a header cleared off the line from the resulting corner. The complexion of the game then changed completely in injury time as Cole was sent off for a reckless challenge on Koscielny.

Koscielny, who returned to the dressing room on a stretcher at the interval, ran out to start the second period as normal. He was greeted by boos from Liverpool fans but replays of the Cole tackle suggested that, although the initial decision may have seemed harsh, the law had been applied correctly.

Liverpool seemed determined not to let their numerical disadvantage bother them and made a blistering start to the second half. They claimed the lead within two minutes of the restart as Mascherano threaded a ball into the box for Ngog and the Frenchman finished unerringly at the near post. It was his fourth goal of the season after three in Liverpool’s first Europa League qualifying tie.

Not content with that, the Reds pushed forward again and Martin Skrtel headed wide from a dangerous Steven Gerrard free-kick. Ngog had an even better chance when he leapt to reach another Gerrard set-piece but could not direct his header on target.

Arsenal retained a threat and won a free-kick with 18 minutes remaining when Gerrard caught Chamakh on the edge of the box. Theo Walcott, who had entered the action as a substitute on the hour, went close as he hit a curling low shot which Reina tipped around the post. Hodgson decided to introduce Torres for the final 16 minutes and he was greeted by a huge ovation when he replaced Ngog.

Mascherano was also given a good hand when he made way for Lucas while Wenger decided to throw Van Persie into the action. Liverpool were reduced to nine men when Agger left the field for treatment after all three substitutes had been used.

Arsenal stepped up the tempo and Tomas Rosicky showed great control with a slaloming run into the area before seeing his shot touched over by Reina.

Maxi Rodriguez then cleared after a desperate goalmouth scramble. Pressure eventually told in the last minute as Chamakh hit the post from a Rosicky cross and the ball rebounded in off Reina for an own goal.

Gerrard almost snatched victory as the game went into five minutes of injury time but Almunia kept out his free-kick. There was still time for one final moment of drama as Koscielny was shown a red card for a second bookable offence Kuyt created another good chance after good work on the right but no-one could turn in his ball across goal.

Source:daily mail

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