I think I have said this before, but I firmly believe that luck has a habit of evening itself out in football.
For that reason, when Liverpool have a player unluckily sent off, have a perfectly good goal disallowed, or are the beneficiary of some other misfortune during a game, then I try to grit my teeth and take it in my stride, firmly believing that the team will have some good luck to balance it out before too long.
One type of misfortune that is much less easy to predict happening than those mentioned above is conceding a goal as a direct result of a beach ball that has been thrown onto the pitch. Of course this is exactly what befell Liverpool at the Stadium of Light last season when Darren Bent's shot ricocheted off one such item, sending Pepe Reina the wrong way and finishing up in the net, giving Sunderland the three points.
Yesterday, with that lovely irony that often finds its way into football, the bad luck of conceding that 'beach ball goal' was arguably cancelled out against the same team at the same ground, when Liverpool were awarded a debatable penalty.
When Jay Spearing was brought down by John Mensah and the referee awarded a spot-kick on the advice of his assistant, Sunderland, and their manager Steve Bruce, were up in arms, claiming that the foul was outside the box.
Having watched the incident over and over again on replays, I must admit that I am inclined to agree, as is Liverpool's Jamie Carragher, who told Sky Sports: "I thought it was a penalty, but then I looked at half time and I don't think it was, was it? It was just outside."
Dirk Kuyt duly tucked away the kick, and the pain of the ‘beach ball goal’ was, for me, consigned to history. What made things even more satisfying was both that the hotly-disputed penalty was not the only goal scored by Liverpool in their victory, and that the second goal was one of sheer quality from Luis Suarez – scored as it was from the near post at an impossibly tight angle.
Suarez is rapidly proving that he may be worthy of the legendary number 7 shirt he wears, and he showed the creativity and flair that his side badly missed in the Europa League game against Braga on Thursday night. Watching him, I have that tingle of excitement of feeling 'oh wow, he plays for US'.
Suarez' was not the only impressive performance; Jay Spearing, handed a start by Kenny Dalglish, was superb in midfield, and Dirk Kuyt, now Liverpools's leading goal scorer this season, kept working and working and working, as usual. He and Suarez work well together; maybe it is a 'Dutch thing', given that Suarez speaks Dutch, learned during his time at Ajax!
That's 19 points from the last 24 in the League for Liverpool now. They have established a five-point cushion above a clutch of teams behind them, and Spurs, now only four points ahead of the Anfield club (albeit with a game in hand), may be starting to look anxiously over their shoulders.
As for bad luck in football, well after the beach ball goal last season, Steve Bruce said, calmly: "Well, sometimes these things happen in football". Yes, they do, but not nearly as often as teams having harsh decisions, like debatable penalties, given against them.
Needless to say, after his side was on the receiving end of one such decision yesterday, Bruce was not nearly so philosophical. When it comes to luck, what goes around comes around, Steve.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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