Premier League - Reina saves lacklustre Liverpool

Eurosport - Sun, 12 Sep 18:01:00 2010

Liverpool had goalkeeper Pepe Reina to thank for earning them a 0-0 draw against Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

Miss a Match? We didn't

Birmingham 0 Liverpool 0

It was the seventh consecutive Premier League draw between the teams, but the streak of stalemates would have ended if not for some spectacular saves by Reina.

The Spaniard suffered an embarrassing and costly slip playing for his country against Argentina on Tuesday, but was back on top form here.

He was perhaps the only player in red able to say that, as Roy Hodgson's side underperformed again and climbed to a lacklustre 13th place in the early-season table - Birmingham go joint fifth, level with Fulham and ahead of rivals Aston Villa.

Reina kept Liverpool in the game during a torrid first half, most spectacularly with a full-length diving stop to his right to keep out Cameron Jerome's downward header on 22 minutes.

He was alert to punch away from the onrushing Jerome on 36 minutes, and shortly afterwards he sprang to his right again to repel a firm Craig Gardner header.

A goal would have been nothing more than Birmingham deserved for a dynamic performance that shoved the visitors out of their comfort zone, denying them time on the ball.

Roy Hodgson handed a debut to left-back Paul Konchesky, recently signed from Fulham, while another newcomer Raul Meireles came on as a second-half substitute.

Fernando Torres still looks woefully out of touch and his dismal form is a huge concern for Hodgson.

The Spaniard is now clear of the knee injury that dogged him at the World Cup, and scored a fine goal against Liechtenstein during the international break.

However, against more combative opposition here appeared to have little appetite for the game.

He cut an isolated figure up front, and his touch deserted him on the few occasions when the ball did find its way to him.

Torres miscued his shot badly wide when Glen Johnson found him with a low cross from the right, and he was on the receiving end of a superb saving tackle by Roger Johnson when the ball was played in to him six yards out.

Just after the hour mark, he seemed positively startled when the ball fell to him inside the box and surrendered the ball with a touch any pub player would have been ashamed of.

He nearly redeemed himself a couple of minutes later with a high, hard shot from a tight angle on the right, but Ben Foster stood tall and palmed the ball behind for a corner.

Although Liverpool were better after the break, Birmingham had their chances - most notably Scott Dann who directed a glancing header into the ground and over the bar when unmarked eight yards out.

Jerome then had another opportunity on 70 minutes, backpedalling to meet a cross but sending his header into the side netting.

Liverpool finished the stronger, with Steven Gerrard and Johnson aiming searching crosses into the home area. But it says much about their lack of penetration that Birmingham keeper Ben Foster did not make a save of note during the 90 minutes.

Gerrard finished the game wearing a bandage around his head - the result of a first-half challenge with Barry Ferguson that left the Liverpool captain with a persistently bleeding ear. Bothersome, but not likely to keep him out of Thursday's Europa League game against Steaua Bucharest.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account