Liverpool struggled to a penalty shootout victory over League 2 side Carlisle in the League Cup, intensifying the pressure on Brendan Rodgers.
A well organised and determined Carlisle side were able to hold Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday night, Keith Curle’s outfit left the field with their heads held high, whilst Liverpool's victory felt a hollow one after another turgid performance.
Liverpool started the game well, keeping Carlisle penned in their own half for much of the opening period of the game. The pressure told after 23 minutes when good work down the left side provided Adam Lallana with the chance to make a telling cross into the box, and he didn’t disappoint providing an inviting cross of Ings to head home for his second Liverpool goal.
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With Carlisle’s resolve broken many inside Anfield expected the floodgates to open, but it did not happen, much to Carlisle’s credit. In their first meaningful attack, Liverpool’s defence parted like the Red Sea. Dejan Lovern backed off, allowing Bastien Hery a free run at goal, then finding Derek Asamoah with a nice ball, who finished well at Adam Bogdan’s near post.
This changed the game, suddenly Liverpool looked nervous and their fragile mentality was exposed once again, there is an obvious lack of self-belief in this Liverpool team. Carlisle grew in belief as did their travelling support; they could sense there was something in this game for them.
Like many teams who have visited Anfield in recent times, Carlisle were organised, well drilled and worked hard and Liverpool could not break down their resistance.
In the second half, Liverpool were reduced to pot-shots from outside the area, very rarely finding the target. For all of Liverpool’s dominance of the ball, they never looked likely to add to their tally.
As the clock ticked on Carlisle defending became resolute and attempted to hit Liverpool on the break. The booing rang around Anfield as the whistle was blown for 90 minutes, the disappointment was palpable inside the ground, the sheer frustration of not being able to see off a mid-table League 2 side.
In extra time, Carlisle held their nerve, as Liverpool kept knocking on the door but with no success. Reduced to long-range efforts, the crowd could take no more after a long range Martin Skrtel effort flew over the bar. Liverpool’s huffing and puffing could just not blow down the Carlisle door.
Then the lottery of a penalty shot out loomed. Liverpool whereas unconvincing with their penalties as they were with their in gameplay. Bogdan saved Liverpool blushes with three saves in the shootout.
There is no sign of improvement from Rodger’s Liverpool, in their second home game of four in a row. This match was supposed to bring confidence back to a side struggling for form. Instead, it seemed to break them even more.
Liverpool fielded a good strength side and still struggled to overcome a side three divisions below them. This is a sign of how far the club is falling, they are no longer progressing, there is something just not right with the club and they look to be going backwards under Rodgers.
Many think that it has gone too far for Rodgers to turn it around, at times he looked devoid of ideas of how to change the game up, even sending on Philippe Coutinho to try and spark something into life.
The lack of confidence and self-belief is evident for all to see. Liverpool is a fragile side, how long they are allowed to go on in this manner will be up to FSG, Liverpool owners.
But for most of the Liverpool faithful, that time has arrived.