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Europa League: Liverpool held by Rubin though Can still progress

Matt Haynes | October 22, 2015

Liverpool 1 – 1 Rubin Kazan

  1. Europa League
  2. Thursday, October 21st
  3. Kick-off: 20:05 BST
  4. Anfield, Liverpool

The Reds were held at Anfield by their Russian visitors in the Europa League for new boss Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge.

Rubin Kazan take early initiative

The overall verdict from Klopp’s first two games in charge of Liverpool? Too early to say. Does he need new players? Almost definitely.

While it was a positive start from the Reds for Klopp’s maiden home game in charge, it was the same old story. A lack of a genuine end product, dominant in possession and conceding against the run of play.

For all to see was an obvious effort where Klopp’s craft was already beginning to rub off. Sharp, incisive passing, movement off the ball and plenty of energy, James Milner one of the early protagonists and one would agree beneficiaries of the new era.

He was an ever-present on the right of a narrow midfield three, time and again providing an option. However, despite plenty of the ball, it was the Russian outfit who took the lead against the run of play. Right back Oleg Kuzmin clipped over the top for striker Marko Devic, who, got behind Nathaniel Clyne, cushioned and steered past Simon Mignolet.

Clearly stunned the Reds, 14/1 to win the Europa League with Coral, responded and went close from a well-worked free-kick as Philippe Coutinho lofted for Adam Lallana to flick a flying reverse header towards the roof of the net from some way out, only to be denied at the last by the keeper.

Coutinho had a collection of chances as Liverpool created more openings, though the Brazilian could only drag wide each time. Pressure beginning to mount, it clearly showed with Kuzmin receiving a second yellow card for a rash tackle on Emre Can and Liverpool’s luck began to change.

Soccer - UEFA Europa League - Group B - Liverpool v Rubin Kazan - Anfield

If anyone can Can can

Almost immediately, the Reds found a breakthrough. From the resulting free-kick which Coutinho swept in, Can capitalised on a knock down to guide in an equaliser.

Soccer - UEFA Europa League - Group B - Liverpool v Rubin Kazan - Anfield

The one person in the Anfield camp who may have felt a sense of ‘schadenfreude’ for Brendan Rodgers’ dismissal, it appropriately would be the German, pulled from pillar to post by the Northern Irishman, before compatriot Klopp installs him in his favourite position.

Fittingly, Can was one of the brightest Reds players, offering drive and a sense of fashionable charisma from his box-to-box midfield role, no doubt, already passed on by his new boss.

Strikers needed as second half showed

The second half performance from Liverpool was almost an invite to the world’s best strikers. With Coutinho and Lallana pulling the strings, there will be chances aplenty and paranoid cynics would accuse Klopp of somewhat Machiavellian tactics for bringing on Christian Benteke who missed a number of clear cut chances.

While the question remains as to how many chances he will get from Klopp before the chequebook reopens, the German can at least be thankful that he can call on Daniel Sturridge, expected to be back for the match against Southampton.

Perhaps the chance of the half fell to Benteke at the climax of a swift counter initiated by Lallana, though he could only find the post.

Halloween may be just over a week away, though the end product on show from the home side tonight was just as scary.

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