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By Caroline Cheese
2217: I must go. Thanks for your company tonight. Liverpool's winless league run against Birmingham stretches to seven games. Bogey team? You betcha. See you soon.
From wonderboi711 on Twitter:
"I'm ashamed of that dive. Truly ashamed!! Ngog is a promising talent, one for the future... but that dive has put me off him."
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "The players were awesome tonight. They've gone up in my estimation: their resilience, their spirit. A great performance. The referee got [the penalty decision] wrong. Peter Walton is a great referee but he must have been unsighted. It wasn't even iffy. It's part of the game though. We take it on the chin and move forwards."
Birmingham's Lee Carsley on the penalty incident: "It's a joke. I know for a fact I didn't touch him. I think when the referee sees it, he'll be really disappointed. It's an embarrassing case of cheating."
2205: In answer to DannyJSY (see below), he probably should do because it was that kind of dive, but I imagine Liverpool's form and the future of Benitez may overshadow all that. In fairness to the referee, it looked like a penalty in real time and it was only on the replay that it emerged Ngog wasn't touched. Also: well done to Birmingham for hanging on for a point.
2200: Well, well. Despite that fortunate penalty, Liverpool can't get the three points and that's one win in nine now. They stay seventh, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea and three points off the top four. Birmingham stay 15th.
2158: FULL-TIME Liverpool 2-2 Birmingham
2156: Emiliano Insua chases down a ball out left and delivers a high cross, which Joe Hart meets and catches cleanly, the Birmingham keeper hugging the ball in relief.
2154: Four minutes of added time. Inevitably, that news is greeted by a roar from the home fans.
2152: Two minutes of normal time remaining. Birmingham have a chance to ease the pressure with a free-kick - and boy, are they taking their time about it. Liverpool clear at the second attempt.
2149: Lee Bowyer sticks out a leg to stop Steven Gerrard's progress down the right edge of the box. The home fans are briefly up for another penalty, but when Gerrard doesn't appeal, they think twice. Bowyer got a touch on the ball. Birmingham bring on Gary McSheffrey for goalscorer Christian Benitez.
2146: After Steven Gerrard shoots narrowly over, Alberto Aquilani finally comes in for his Anfield debut, replacing Lucas. Aquilani has eight minutes to make an impression.
2145: Steven Gerrard whips in the cross from the right for David Ngog, but the striker smashes the volley wide. Looks like Alberto Aquilani will be on shortly.
2143: And it's all over at Oakwell where Sheffield United twice come from behind to make it 2-2 against Barnsley. That ends the Blades' nightmare run of four straight defeats.
2141: Yet more injury woe for Liverpool as now Yossi Benayoun pulls up, holding the back of his thigh. Ryan Babel is the replacement. Alberto Aquilani, who had done a long warm-up, sits down again.
2140: Late goals by Jason Price and Danny Schofield wrap up a 4-1 win for Millwall against AFC Wimbledon and earn the Lions an FA Cup second-round trip to Staines.
2138: It's all Liverpool, and Birmingham will do well to hang on for a point now. Dirk Kuyt heads a long ball back for Yossi Benayoun, but Joe Hart sticks out his right arm to keep out the shot at his near post.
Liverpool goal: David Ngog careers into the box on the left and appears to be brought down by a lunging tackle from Lee Carsley. Replays, however, show the Frenchman actually hurdled the challenge but went down anyway. "He never touched him," says BBC 5 live's Mark Lawrenson. Carsley is furious and he and Ngog are both booked by Peter Walton in the aftermath. Steven Gerrard keeps his cool to dispatch the penalty.
2134: GOAL Liverpool 2-2 Birmingham
2133: PENALTY TO LIVERPOOL
2131: Birmingham boss Alex McLeish responds to the growing pressure by bringing on former Liverpool player Gregory Vignal for James McFadden in a bid to stop Liverpool's progress down the right. Darius Henderson scores a second penalty of the night to make it all square at Oakwell. It's Barnsley 2-2 Sheffield United
2130: Liverpool building the pressure now, and the crowd are responding. Steven Gerrard whips in a cross from the right, which Joe Hart punches out only to Dirk Kuyt, whose fierce shot is blocked bravely by Lee Carsley. Glen Johnson goes on yet another dribble, eventually backheeling the cross from the byeline, but again it's Carsley who clears.
Yellow card for James McFadden after bringing down Dirk Kuyt. Scott Dann heads away the free-kick.
2127: Glen Johnson escapes down the right again and provides a dangerous cross which Steven Gerrard can only head on to the bottom of the post. The fans are finally finding their voice inside Anfield.
2125: Lewis Taylor ensure it will be an exciting final 10 minutes at the New Den as he makes it Millwall 2-1 AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup.
2123: Barnsley are back in front in the south Yorkshire derby, Daniel Bogdanovic heading in from Jon Macken's cross to give them a 2-1 lead against Sheffield United with 16 minutes remaining.
2122: The suspended Jamie Carragher is found by the TV cameras, slumped back in his seat with his arms folded, shaking his head, as he chats to his friend. Don't think he likes what he sees.
2119: BBC 5 live pundit Mark Lawrenson reckons Rafa Benitez should bring Alberto Aquilani on for Lucas and play him in front of Javier Mascherano.
2116: Yossi Benayoun flicks on a free-kick, but Martin Skrtel heads wide. Meanwhile, Jason Price's close-range finish means Millwall are closing in on the second round of the FA Cup, with a 2-0 lead over AFC Wimbledon.
2114: Dirk Kuyt does a Glen Johnson by going in between two defenders on the right, but he blazes his cross straight out of play. The Dutchman claims he was caught from behind, but Peter Walton is unmoved.
2113: Birmingham string together some neat passes in the Liverpool half - and Anfield is still alarmingly quiet.
2108: ...And Darius Henderson has scored that penalty to make it Barnsley 1-1 Sheffield United. Birmingham are keeping Liverpool waiting after the break at Anfield, Cameron Jerome trotting out finally to make it 22 players on the pitch, and we're back under way.
2107: Steven Gerrard has spent half-time out on the pitch continuing to warm up, thus avoiding the Rafa Benitez rollicking. Sheffield United have a penalty after Rob Kozluk's foul on Ched Evans...
2102: Two goals to tell you about: four minutes into the second half, Neil Harris's strike makes it Millwall 1-0 AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup. And at Oakwell, Anderson De Silva scores to give Barnsley a 1-0 lead against struggling Sheffield United.
From baron84 on 606
"Are there any Liverpool fans worried that Gerrard is being rushed back? If he aggravates that groin tonight then it is an incredibly bad decision. Shows how desperate the situation is."
2055: Christian Benitez can reflect on his first Premier League goal, while Cameron Jerome celebrates his first of the season. Jerome's was an absolute beauty, which Liverpool's defence really couldn't have done much about.
2051: HALF-TIME Liverpool 1-2 Birmingham
Birmingham goal: Scott Dann heads a hopeful ball forward and Cameron Jerome controls it, holds off Javier Mascherano, and then unleashes a swerving, dipping thunderbolt of a shot from 30 yards, which catches Pepe Reina completely unawares. Seconds to go until half-time, and that is a shocker.
2050: GOAL Liverpool 1-2 Birmingham
2048: Albert Riera's hamstring has gone - and he knows it. The Spaniard stays down in the penalty area, and thumps the turf in frustration. The Liverpool fans' sympathy gives way to delight as they spot who's coming on to replace him - Steven Gerrard. And he takes the captaincy armband. I'm not saying any more on that subject.
2045: Birmingham break at pace and Cameron Jerome plays in strike partner Christian Benitez, who takes it past Pepe Reina but finds the angle too tight and blazes the shot into the stands.
2043: And by the way, BBC 5 live report that David Haye is at the New Den to see his beloved Millwall take on AFC Wimbledon. The new WBA heavyweight champion received a standing ovation as he took his seat.
2040: Chucho Benitez's goal means Birmingham have scored before the half-hour mark for the first time in the Premier League this season. It was only their ninth goal of the league season. Big cheers from the crowd - because Steven Gerrard is warming up.
2037: HALF-TIME Barnsley 0-0 Sheffield Utd
2036: HALF-TIME Millwall 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
2035: Liverpool come right back at Birmingham with what seems like a five-minute goalmouth scramble. David Ngog comes closest, his scuffed shot coming off Joe Hart and eventually being cleared off the line by Lee Carsley.
2034: Joe Hart athletically tips over Javier Mascherano's piledriver. Lively game now.
2033: Birmingham are energised by that goal, having looked a little toothless before it. Sebastian Larsson's hard work on the right earns them a corner, but Liverpool get it clear eventually.
Birmingham goal: The headline writers will be happy. Birmingham win three headers: Roger Johnson nods the ball across goal, Scott Dann flicks it on and it is of course Christian 'Chucho' Benitez who stays just onside to apply the final touch past Pepe Reina.
2029: GOAL Liverpool 1-1 Birmingham
2027: For the second time, Glen Johnson skips in between two defenders on the right. This time, Joe Hart collects the cross. The first time, it led to the goal. Work for Alex McLeish to do there.
2022: Doesn't David Ngog have the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player in the Premier League? Is that still true? Anyway, that was a top-quality strike - of which Fernando Torres would be proud.
2018: Shortly after Dirk Kuyt flashes a header wide for Liverpool, Birmingham are forced to make a change, Lee Carsley replacing Teemu Tainio.
Liverpool goal: Joe Hart makes two magnificent saves, first from David Ngog then from Dirk Kuyt, but Albert Riera crosses the ball back in from the left and Ngog meets it with a thumping first-time volley, which hits the top of the net. Relief at Anfield.
2015: GOAL Liverpool 1-0 Birmingham
2013: Glen Johnson provides a perfect through-ball for Yossi Benayoun but his cut-back goes behind Dirk Kuyt. Promising for the Reds though. Seconds later, the ball is deflected into David Ngog's path and he shoots straight at Joe Hart.
2008: And here's the first effort on goal, but Lee Bowyer is leaning back and blasts the shot well over. Bowyer is the leading scorer for Birmingham this season - with three. A quiet start at Anfield, on and off the pitch.
2003: Oh look, I probably would have expected the Liverpool captain to be Reina or Mascherano. But it's not a big deal is it? As someone on Twitter has just observed, I am a woman and therefore ill-equipped to make the call about who should be Liverpool captain. "No offence..." the message started, which I thought was a nice touch. But let the talking stop: the action is under way.
From anon via text on 81111: "I beg to differ about Kuyt's leadership qualities, every time we're behind he's the man rallying the troops. Who else for captain tonight? Perhaps Reina maybe?"
2001: A minute's silence now...
1957: On the day after Remembrance Sunday, two members of the armed forces emerge on to the pitch ahead of the players and place a large poppy in the centre circle.
1950: No, I'm not doubting Dirk Kuyt's abilities as a footballer (see 1941). He just doesn't strike me as a natural leader. That is all.
1948: The Championship game at Oakwell and the FA Cup game at the New Den are under way.
From Shaun via text on 81111: "Joe Hart in for Maik Taylor at Anfield. What a joke. Taylor had a good game against Man City. Hart has made too many mistakes this season. McLeish must love him."
From AndyCoulthard on Twitter:
"Benitez showing who he trusts by sticking Riera in the first XI, even though he's been injured, and Babel stays on the bench."
1941: A few of you are wondering who the Liverpool captain is tonight, in the absence of the suspended Jamie Carragher and the benched Steven Gerrard. It's Dirk Kuyt, of course. The natural choice.
new world heavyweight champion David Haye
is reportedly hoping to make it to the New Den tonight to watch Millwall take on AFC Wimbledon. So he could be a giantkiller watching a giantkilling...
1930: TEAM NEWS Liverpool v Birmingham Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is on the bench after injury but striker Fernando Torres does not make the squad at all. Right-back Glen Johnson and centre-back Martin Skrtel replace suspended duo Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher. Left winger Albert Riera and striker David Ngog also start. Birmingham's on loan keeper Joe Hart returns after being ineligible to play against parent club Manchester City last time out. Teemu Tainio comes in to replace suspended midfielder Barry Ferguson.
1926: Earlier today, I wrote Barcelona instead of Barnsley. It doesn't bode well for an error-free live text tonight...
1920: Yes, I meant Chris Morgan (1913). Silly moi. Manually refresh if that error is troubling you. Anyhoo, Sheffield United, for whom Morgan plays, are on a dreadful run of form. They're looking to avoid a fifth straight defeat and ease the pressure on manager Kevin Blackwell. The Championship lost one of its managers earlier as
Darren Ferguson got the boot from Peterborough.
1917: And AFC Wimbledon are expected to take about 3,000 supporters to the New Den as they take on Millwall in the first round of the FA Cup. The winners face Staines in the next round.
1913: Away from the big game at Anfield, Sheffield United are at south Yorkshire rivals Barnsley tonight. The Blades are without Chris Morgan, whose elbow left Tykes striker Iain Hume with a fractured skull a year ago, after the defender picked up his fifth booking of the season in the defeat by Newcastle.
1911: On the plus side for Liverpool fans, Andriy Voronin isn't in the squad... Anyway, you know the drill by now: get in touch on 81111,606
1907: And the truth is: Steven Gerrard is on the bench alongside Alberto Aquilani, but there is no Fernando Torres. At all. BBC 5 live's Mark Lawrenson ponders whether Torres might have had an operation on his troublesome hernia.
1906: With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that, according to some reports this morning, Rafael Benitez was reportedly considering chucking both Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard into the fray tonight. However, more recent rumours suggest Gerrard will start, but Torres won't. The truth will out
1900: So what's the definition of a must-win game? Could it be a game you go into 12 points behind the league leaders? On a run of six defeats in eight? Maybe you're at home, against a side just a point above the drop zone? Sound about right?
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