Liverpool Deflated After 1-0 Loss To Red Beach Ball and Sunderland

It’s been quite a week for balloons. First there was the ridiculous coverage of the Balloon Boy in Colorado, and now another inflatable object has stolen the headlines.

Can it get any worse for Liverpool? The club played one of their worst first-half performances against Fiorentina in the Champions League a few weeks ago and lost 2-0, which was followed by a very unconvincing display in the 2-0 loss against Chelsea. In addition, the club has already lost to Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in the league. And now, to make matters even worse, their Premier League title aspirations were deflated after Sunderland’s Darren Bent scored on a shot that deflected against a red beach ball and into the net for a 1-0 victory.

It’s one thing for a beach ball to get in the way, but when the bal was thrown on to the pitch by a Liverpool teenager, you can only imagine how much stick this young fella is going to get on Merseyside. Possibly only the other person on Merseyside who is less popular than the kid is one Rafa Benitez.

Without Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, Liverpool looked very ordinary and they were continually on the backfoot against a hard-working but hardly world-class Sunderland side. If anything, Sunderland could have easily won this game 2-0 or 3-0 such were their clear-cut chances, but they failed to put the decisive ball away.

The list of problems for Liverpool continues to grow. Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher looked shakey in the back for Liverpool, once again. Babel and Kuyt aren’t traditional strikers and they played like it. They’re more providers than creators. They need someone to latch their passes or knock-ons to. Liverpool still needs a better striker from the substitute’s bench than Andriy Voronin (what does Benitez see in him?). And their midfield of Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing, Fabio Aurelio was completely outplayed by Sunderland’s midfield of Steed Malbranque, Lee Cattermole, Lorik Cana and Andy Reid.

This was a Liverpool side that didn’t look like winning. They’ve been relying too much on Gerrard and Torres to rescue them out of trouble for way too long. And without those two players who can turn the games on a dime, they looked like a bottom half of the table team.

To make matters even worse for Liverpool, their next league game is against Manchester United on Sunday, October 25 where Sir Alex Ferguson will be licking his chops at the prospect of pouring even more pressure on Liverpool and Rafa Benitez.

Regarding the red beach ball, it was in the back corner of Reina’s net when the game kicked off and was there as late as minute 1:30 on the clock. But after that, the ball must have blown on to the pitch. Reina will definitely be regretting that he didn’t burst the ball before it came on the pitch.

In tribute to the red balloon goal, here’s the video for Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”:

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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20 Responses to Liverpool Deflated After 1-0 Loss To Red Beach Ball and Sunderland

  1. It was completely avoidable – Reina should have booted it out of his goal area. It was in that spot, unmoved, throughout the whole move, which probably took 30 seconds to unfold.

    I wonder if keepers will start carrying boxcutters (Stanley knives) in their little man-purses.

  2. brn442 says:

    Once I saw the balloon, I was thinking it might cause a problem. I know players are focused on their roles but the balloon should’ve been dealt with by the Liverpool defence. However, in an era where play is stopped when a player trips on himself, there has to be some kind of protocol by the League to mandate that the referee or his assistants stop the match to remove any object that can interfere with play as this has happened before with Sheffield.

    Saying that, I didn’t see any balloons stopping Babel, Kuyt, Ngog, and Voronin from scoring – that’s the problem. Last season – Torres’s hamstring cost them the title. Would the match result be the same if there were BELLAMY, COUCH, KEANE or god help us, Cisse around? A team like Liverpool needs at least four world class strikers, Benitez still thinks he only needs one.

  3. Ivan says:

    Liverpool were awful, simply awful. Creativity level was at negative 5. Credit to Sunderland for taking the game to L’pool and coming out deserved winners.
    This game shows the sad truth about Liverpool: we are a 2-player team. Without Torres and Gerrard, Pool will be a mid-table team, year after year.
    Here’s where Rafa takes the blame: look at the midfields of Arsenal, United, Chelsea, Man City, Villa, and Tottenham. All these teams have midfields FAR SUPERIOR than Liverpool’s. And, to top it all off, Rafa let the team’s midfield maestro, Xabi Alonso go last season. Yes, I blame Rafa for Alonso leaving the club. Alonso was not happy that for a year and a half Rafa tried to buy Gareth Barry(an inferior player to Xabi).
    Now we get misunderstandings such as Lucas playing for the team…
    I watch Pat Dolan on Setanta speaking in defense of Rafa every Saturday, and speaking against the American owners. I respect Dolan for his strong opinions and fantastic understanding of the game, but I have to disagree w/ him about Rafa.
    No more excuses for Benitez! There is a higher chance of green Martians landing on planet Earth than Liverpool with Rafa ever winning the Premier League title…pains me to say it, but it’s true…
    From the current Liverpool squad, only 4 players are on par w/ players from the other top teams: Gerrard, Torres, Reina, Kuyt, and, maybe Benayoun. That’s it. Even the Champions league may be a mirage for us next season.
    And I will make the exact same comments, even if we manage to defeat United next Sunday. United are a very mediocre side this season, and have been riding their luck week in and week out. Chelsea and Arsenal will be the main title contenders, at least it looks this way early on.

  4. eplnfl says:

    I say we ban all balloon references. That would be more creative.

    As to Liverpool they were flat. But with all the talk about hot air and Rafa we saw a classic game in the opener of the days action with the Villa win over Chelsea.

    I will ask again is it fair for the big teams who have a lot international players flying back in from all parts of the globe to have to play on a Saturday after a midweek international? Is it fair for the national teams to have to field jet lagged and worn down players in WC qualification games. No to both.

    I said in an earlier post you have to love the talent, soap opera nature and drama of the EPL. Today just proved it again.

  5. Matthew N says:

    It sure would be nice if Nemeth wasn’t on loan for days like this. What the hell is Rafa thinking starting with all those defenders (Carra, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Johnson). Granted, Johnson has offensive potential and Aurelio can be a threat at times (though he looked awful today), but we definitely need to be more aggressive with our lineups. Our lack of a true finisher was glaringly obvious. Nemeth puts a couple of those in the goal that the others couldn’t connect on. I am not a Benitez hater, but I have to put the fault for this loss squarely on the shoulders of Rafa.

  6. ban bad refs says:

    there is a precednt , the ref should have disallowed the goal , simples , when refs and all relative authorities realise football is no longer a sport but now big business then things will improve , why cant the 4th offical intervene and remind the ref of the rules as well as the 4 u see theres also an assesor in the stands y cant he get involved too it stinks ,

    • Raatzie says:

      I’d be more p—-d if Liverpool had had one of those days where they put on an offensive onslaught but just couldn’t slot one home. This was not one of those days. Sunderland was the better team and deserved the three points. Even without the beach ball goal, the game easily could have been 2-0 or 3-0 .

      $tatler and Waldorf out. And Benitez out. He had the chance to walk away when $tatler and Waldorf reneged on the summer transfer budget. He chose to stick around. So like Mike McD with Worm, it’s on him too.

      Sammy Lee as interim. Dalglish and Mourinho as potential successors come next August.

  7. SirKev says:

    Liverpool… For the Want of a Nail:

    For the want of a nail.. a baloon was not popped.
    Because the baloon was not popped… a goal was allowed.
    Beacuse a goal was allowed.. a game was lost.
    Because a league title was lost… a manager was sacked.
    Because a manager was sacked… an inferior intreim was named.
    Because of the inferior intreim… players became disspirited.
    Because players became disspirited… a Champions League spot was lost.
    Because a Champions League spot was lost… the owners revenue dropped.
    Because the owners reveue dropped… Gerrard and Torres were sold and not replaced.
    Because Gerrard and Torres were sold… Steve McClaren was named manager.
    Because Steve McClaren was named manager… Liverpool was lost.
    All for the want of a nail.

    (The first three happened. The rest? Only time will tell….)

    • Raatzie says:

      Liverpool is in eighth, and the Arse, City, and Villa (a) have a game in hand, and (b) look much better than ‘Pool (even w/City’s recent cooling off).

      That CL spot may already be gone.

  8. Soccergoalx says:

    I think Liverpool is capable to get back after conceded the balloon goal. But, they are playing without Torres and Gerrard. Torres and Gerrard always scored the important goal for Liverpool. So, it is going to be a disaster for Liverpool to play without both of them.

  9. Kevin_Amold says:

    I really hope the resident Liverpool fan does a write-up of this game. I can’t wait to read it.

  10. Drew says:

    “While Sky Sports News understands the fan may not want to come forward we would love for him to get in touch with us and explain how he is feeling about what happened.”

  11. No 1, that was not a balloon. The keeper would have to have shot that in order to deflate it.

    No 2, the “balloon” should not be the focus, the focus should be the horrible display from Liverpool, and it seems that the Sunderland striker were feeling sorry for them, as their finishing was poor.

    No 3, that “balloon” made more of an effort to stop that goal than any of the Liverpool defenders. I just don’t know what is wrong with the defense this year, but whatever it is, it will have to be sorted before they are humiliated by Man U (or even Lyon).

  12. CA_backpacker says:

    It isn’t the balloon, it is the buffoon (Rafa). His personnel decisions, in terms of transfer market as well as who to put on the pitch and where in each match, are just plain suspect. And the style of play he promotes guarantees difficulties scoring…we slow up play and kick the ball around the defense and midfield so much that by the time we get the ball into the attacking half, the opposition has 9-10 men in the penalty box, and we have no room to do anything! I am envyous watching almost any other club, because they often bring the ball up the pitch with pace, and get 3 on 3′s, 4 on 4′s, and good quick scoring opportunities, and ‘Pool never seems to want to do this. Long bloop balls to a lone striker from Reina or the defense doesn’t count and is rarely effective.

    I mean seriously, if it wasn’t for Divine Intervention in the second half in Istanbul, we would really have won nothing in Rafa’s tenure. I just keep trying to figure out what other quality manager is available that would be willing to endure Statler and Waldorf?

    I said it before the season, and I’ll say it now…Losing Alonso was a disaster for our midfield quality and ability to get the ball to the feet of our strikers at the right time…and we will be lucky to be in the top half of the table at the end of this season. Top 4 and a CL spot? Get real.

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