Lacklustre Reds don't deserve last-gasp win over QPR
(Eduardo Vargas 87, 90+2)
(Richard Dunne 67-og, Philippe Coutinho 90, Steven Caulker 90+5-og)
Chaos, carnage and all the late drama we've come to expect from the Premier League.
The last-gasp 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers last night might have sent Liverpool up to fifth place, but there are serious questions to be asked of Brendan Rodgers' defence ahead of Real Madrid's visit this week.
There will be a temptation to class this Liverpool victory simply as three crucial points and then delete it from the memory banks immediately, but Rodgers is too smart for that.
He will know that, while his team were victorious, this was a wretched performance and he can count himself extremely fortunate to have won.
QPR have been consistently terrible this season, so quite where this performance came from is anybody's guess.
Harry Redknapp awoke to news that his first-choice goalkeeper Rob Green was stricken with tonsillitis. He needn't have worried about it.
Reserve stopper Alex McCarthy could have brought a book to work and he wouldn't have needed to put it down until midway through the second half when Liverpool finally lurched into something approaching competence.
Rodgers' side were fortunate to go in at half-time without conceding.
With Bobby Zamora partnering Charlie Austin up front, Redknapp's side had an easy outlet. They squashed the midfield, bullied Liverpool's players and played it long for Zamora, who dominated the Liverpool defence.
It was an old fashioned, English 4-4-2 and it worked beautifully.
Austin could have opened the scoring after nine minutes, capitalising on a mix-up between Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel.
Fortunately, Mignolet was on hand to rush out and divert Austin's shot into the side-netting.
Midway through the first half, Liverpool were breached again.
This time, Zamora found space on the right flank and sent a perfectly judged ball low across the back of the box for Leroy Fer who smashed it against the crossbar and buried his face in the turf in embarrassment. As well he should.
Fer hit the crossbar again six minutes later, beating Mignolet to a high ball and looping his header off the woodwork.
Liverpool were able to clear the ball from the melee that followed, but only after Glen Johnson threw himself, studs up, into a pack of players.
Had the referee seen the incident properly, Johnson might well have been sent off and QPR awarded a penalty.
The Reds were wretched and their problems were not limited to their backline. In midfield, they failed to create anything of note. With Emre Can sitting deep, Steven Gerrard was allowed to reprise his former role as an attacking midfielder.
He did little of note until just before the break when he slipped a shot wide off the post. But it was Mario Balotelli who stood out, and for all the wrong reasons.
He was slow to the ball, he didn't work hard enough, his touch was appalling and when he cannoned the ball high into the stands when presented with an open goal, it surprised no one.
Balotelli, with the baggage that he brings, is sometimes the target for unfair attacks from the press, but there was no defending this performance.
Real Madrid's scouts must have stained their notebooks with tears of laughter.
And yet, Liverpool prevailed. They had Richard Dunne to thank for turning the ball into his own net.
They had his partner, Steven Caulker, to thank for the winner, the Englishman doing exactly the same in the last seconds of injury time.
In between, QPR's long suffering supporters saw Eduardo Vargas level with three minutes to go, only for Philippe Coutinho to put Liverpool back.
Not to be outdone, QPR scored again, Vargas heading home this time from a 93rd-minute corner.
This was QPR's best performance of the season and it was Liverpool's worst.
When they say that football is a funny old game, it really does depend on your perspective.
"They (QPR) certainly didn't deserve to lose."
- Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
"We're still in shock to be honest. We're very lucky today. We would have had no complaints if we came away with nothing, we would have no complaints if we came away with a point."
- Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard
- Stoke 2 Swansea 1
Ancelotti: Real don't need sterling
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has dismissed speculation linking him with a move for Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling.
The 19-year-old, who has risen to prominence for both the Reds and England in the last 12 months, is yet to agree a new deal at Anfield and there have been suggestions that Los Blancos are keen to lure him to Spain.
But former Chelsea boss Ancelotti pointed out that they already have plenty to choose from in attacking areas so he sees no reason to sign Sterling, despite acknowledging his undoubted pedigree.
"Sterling is a player of great quality, certainly one of the best in Europe," he told The Sun on Sunday. "But we already have extraordinary talent here."
Given Cristiano Ronaldo notched his 15th league goal in seven games as Real Madrid romped to a 5-0 win over Levante yesterday morning (Singapore time), it is easy to see why improvements in that area may not be a priority for Ancelotti - especially when he also has the likes of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and highly-rated youngster Jese Rodriguez.
"To think of another striker for the Real Madrid attack is really extremely difficult," Ancelotti said. "It's clear that Sterling is not in our plans."
The 55-year-old Italian is set to get a much closer look at Sterling when his side travel to Merseyside to face Liverpool in the Champions League on Thursday morning (Singapore time).
Ancelotti has insisted that he will make no special plans to deal with Sterling because he prefers to focus on the danger posed by teams as a unit.
But one player in the Liverpool ranks who may capture Ancelotti's imagination is Steven Gerrard, after the Italian admitted he dreamt of pairing the former England captain with Andrea Pirlo during his time at AC Milan.
Ancelotti, who won the Champions League twice during his eight-year spell with the Rossoneri from 2001 to 2009, revealed that he made failed overtures to sign the 34-year-old.
"We had sounded him out, but Gerrard's bond with Liverpool was unbreakable. I don't remember exactly what year it was, but we did try. Of course, I wanted to pair him up with Pirlo, it was a fantastic combination. Putting Gerrard in midfield with Pirlo. It would have been fantastic." - PA Sport.
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