Liverpool and Chelsea are often blamed for sucking the essence and style out of football, and no player embodies that more than Dirk Kuyt. His work-rate is tremendous., his vitamins are in order, and he covers great ground. At the same time, he has the finesse of a demented walrus and is as pleasing to the eye as a swarthy Barbara Bush. He is…effective.
It was Kuyt who jack-knifed a bobbler through the rugbyman’s five-hole to put the Reds 1-0 up, the lone puncture in this dreary affair. The margin held for much of the match. The result would have placed Liverpool in a commanding position for the second leg at Stamford Bridge, but it was not to be.
In the 95th minute of extra time, John Arne Riise inexplicably executed a diving header, straight into the back of his own net, saving Chelsea from themselves. It was a moment of pure madness. A magic night at Anfield.
Riise’s gaff gives Chelsea the conch for the return fixture, a precious away goal that, with Chelsea’s defensive record at home may prove decisive.
But, do not count out Liverpool. They are prone to fits of craziness, but often that works to their advantage. If Chelsea merely come out to hold, Liverpool can easily weasel back into it.