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Match Report: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Liverpool

Thursday 22nd December 2011
Charlie Adam missed a second half penalty as Liverpool were held to a goalless draw, on a frustrating night for the Reds at the DW stadium. Ali Al-Habsi denied Adam from the spot as Liverpool fell further behind in their quest to bring Champions League football back to Anfield.

All the pre-match build up surrounded Luis Suarez and the eight match ban he received from the FA yesterday, for alleged racist comments made to Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. Kenny Dalglish included Suarez in his starting line-up and there were no signs that the potential eight match ban will affect the Uruguayan striker's performances. efore the game the Liverpool players supported Suarez by wearing t-shirts with a picture of Suarez on the front and Suarez 7 on the back, with manager Kenny Dalglish also wearing one. The support for Suarez could also be heard from the Liverpool fans, with constant chants supporting their star striker but the reaction from the Wigan fans was significantly different, who booed him throughout.
First half

It was Liverpool who dominated the early proceedings at the DW stadium and it took only eight minutes for the Reds to test the Wigan keeper, as Jordan Henderson's shot was parried wide by Al-Habsi after good approach play by Stewart Downing. Martin Skrtel then had a shot easily saved by the Omani goalkeeper, as Liverpool continued to push forward.

In a rare attack Wigan then thought they had won a penalty, as Victor Moses went down after a coming together with Skrtel but referee Michael Oliver waved away the Latics protests, with replays showing that the Slovakian defender made no contact with the Wigan forward.

Al-Habsi then pulled off another fine save, after a pull back from Stewart Downing found Dirk Kuyt, whose shot was pushed wide by the former Bolton stopper. Wigan continued to soak up the Liverpool pressure and break on the Reds back four, with Mohamed Diame going close to giving Wigan the lead with a 35-yard strike which went inches wide and into the side netting. Wigan began to find gaps between the Liverpool midfield and defence, but Liverpool found a gap of their own when Maxi found space and sent Glen Johnson through on goal but his side footed finish was well saved by the feet of Al-Habsi. Wigan continued to press higher up the pitch, causing Liverpool to create mistakes and after dispatching Johnson in his own half, Moses used his pace to beat Agger but his powerful shot was punched clear by Pepe Reina, as the teams went in even at the break.

Second half

Liverpool started the second half brightly and Al-Habsi had to be on his toes to tip a Suarez free-kick over the bar. The big moment in the game then came as Wigan captain Gary Caldwell handballed a Luis Suarez flick to give Liverpool an opportunity to score from the spot. Charlie Adam stepped up to take the penalty and despite the power generated in the shot, the penalty lacked accuracy and Al-Habsi got a strong left hand to the ball and Liverpool's chance was gone.
Wigan appeared to take heart from their keeper's heroics and the pressure they put on the ball made it difficult for Liverpool to get a foothold on the ball. The Reds managed to create a few half chances as the game came to a close, with Kuyt failing to make a clear connection at the back post after a cross from Suarez.

Despite the introduction of Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll, the Reds lacked creativity in the final third and it was one of the Latics subs who nearly snatched all three points. Moses beat Jose Enrique and delivered a cross to the back post, where Hugo Rodallega headed towards goal but a block from Johnson denied Wigan a certain goal. From the following corner, everyone failed to connect with the ball and it fell to Moses who stabbed at the ball which hit the post and went agonizingly wide.

Despite some late pressure from Kenny Dalglish' side they failed to break the deadlock and Wigan held on for a precious point. The draw means another two points dropped for Liverpool in their aim to return to Europe's top club competition, whilst Wigan's recent revival continues with eight points now in the books from their last four games.
Adam Woodhouse

Total articles: 10

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