Long gives Royals win at Anfield
13th January 2010
A Shane Long goal in extra time gave the Royals a thoroughly deserved win over Liverpool at Anfield and sent Reading through to the fourth round of the FA Cup!! It was a historic night for the club and Brian McDermott`s first win in charge.
The Royals travelled to Anfield fresh from a weekend off after the postponement against Newcastle and McDermott opted to keep the same side that drew at the Madejski Stadium last time out, but there was a return for Marek Matejovsky on the bench.
Just as we did 11 days ago, we were right into the Reds from the start with Matt Mills and Jem Karacan putting in some hefty early challenges on Fernando Torres, and it wasn`t long before both were in the book! The chances fell to the visitors and Gylfi Sigurdsson gave reserve keeper Diego Cavielleri an early scare forcing the Brazilian keeper to turn his free kick round the post.
Liverpool looked totally out of sorts and the Royals were dominating the game, and we should have been ahead following great work from Simon Church. Karacan freed the Welsh striker down the right and his excellent cross found Grzegorz Rasiak at the far post but the Polish striker put his effort over the bar when it was easier to score.
We continued to pressure the Kop end and Jobi McAnuff, so impressive in the first game, put in a magnificent cross towards Church but he was inches away from connecting to send the ball into the net. Yossi Benayoun gave Adam Federici a scare with a curling effort but just before the break the Reds scored completely against the run of play. Steven Gerrard beat Brynjar Gunnarsson to the ball and put over a cross that was aimed at the far post but it took a wicked deflection off Ryan Bertrand and into the net, with Federici wrong footed.
After Torres limped off in the first half, Gerrard didn`t reappear for the second, and the Royals had a massive incentive to continue their impressive performance with a real chance of getting something. You wouldn`t have expected us to leave it as late as we did though to force extra time. Jobi McAnuff could, and should, have scored one of the greatest goals ever beating about 5 men after running from his own half but fluffed his lines with only the keeper to beat. To be fair Liverpool subdued the Royals for the majority of the half but as we went into the final 10 minutes the pressure was restored, Church heading over the beat chance. But in the second minute of stoppage time, sub Shane Long was tripped by Benayoun and ref Phil Dowd awarded a stonewall penalty. Sigurdsson stepped up and calmly stroked the ball into the corner of the net, defying his young years with a cool finish.
So we went to extra time and McDermott must have told his side to keep putting the Reds under pressure and after 10 minutes of the first half of the extra period, Gunnarsson nutmegged the left back Insua before putting over a wonderful cross that Long headed home in front of the Kop.
Benayoun broke the offside trap and raced through on goal only to see Federici pull off a fine save and despite seeing a lot of the ball in the second period, they rarely troubled the Royals defence and we held on for a fine win.
Many say that the 3-1 win over Liverpool in December 2007 was the greatest result in the clubs history but this must now surely eclipse that, and made the trip worthwhile for those loyal fans that battled the terrible weather conditions to make it to Merseyside.
C`mon You Royals!!!!