Liverpool fans can breathe a little easier today as their club advanced to the fifth round of the F.A. Cup with a 5-2 win over non-league Havant and Waterlooville at Anfield on Saturday.
But there were certainly some anxious moments for the Merseyside fans.
Havant took a shocking 1-0 lead eight minutes in, and were clearly the better side from the start. Liverpool left a number of their best players on the substitutes bench from the beginning, like Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard (they would all appear late in the game). Goaltender Jose Reina was left off in favor of backup Charles Itandje.
There was certainly a festive mood at the match. Liverpool's fans applauded every single Havant player's name when they were announced, and the non-league club's fans sung happily along with `You'll Never Walk Alone'.
Liverpool equalized in the 27th minute, but an own goal by Martin Srktel put Havant and Waterlooville back on top by the 31st minute. But just before halftime, Yossi Benayoun tied it up at 2.
Havant's players were clearly out of gas as the second half started, as Benayoun scored twice, in the 56th and 59th minutes, to give him his hat trick. Peter Crouch added Liverpool's fifth goal just before the final whistle, to give the Reds a 5-2 win, and end H&W's dream of pulling off one of the most shocking upsets in soccer history. (I did think of another shocking upset that might have compared to H&W had they pulled it off. In 1950, the United States defeated England, 1-0, in the World Cup opening round in Brazil. The US players were basically part-time players, like H&W. But as far as great sport upsets, it is only remembered in soccer circles, and is almost never brought up in American sports discussions.)
More on today's match: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=234519&cc=5901
If you are an Havant and Waterlooville fan, you have to be proud of the way your side came at Liverpool, and gave them the shock of their lives in the first half. The Havant players now return to their fulltime jobs, and part-time jobs as soccer players.
But with their heads held high.