Reds claim Emirates draw
Liverpool came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
By Steve Pass
Last Updated: 02/04/08 11:38pm
Liverpool came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw against Arsenal in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners dominated early on and they deservedly went ahead on 23 minutes as Emmanuel Adebayor rose unchallenged to head home a corner.
But as they so often do in Europe, Liverpool shocked the opposition and within minutes they were level and they had their own captain fantastic Steven Gerrard to thank.
The England star ran at the Arsenal defence and he glided through before firing a low-cross to the back post where Dirk Kuyt was on hand to slide the ball home.
Arsenal were the better team thereafter but they could not find a breakthrough. They should have had a second-half penalty after Kuyt appeared to tug back Alexander Hleb in the box but the ref only gave a corner.
Now Liverpool go into next week's second leg as slight favourites thanks to their away goal.
Despite the electric atmosphere, it was a cagey opening for what was the 200th meeting of the sides, who will face off once more in the Premier League on Saturday lunchtime.
After seven minutes, Adebayor raced onto a long through-ball as Jose Reina dashed out of his goal.
The Liverpool goalkeeper missed his attempted clearance, but was alert enough to recover ground and then block the follow-up cross from the Togo frontman.
At the other end, Cesc Fabregas had to do some defending in his own six-yard box to deny Sami Hyypia after he had stayed up front following a corner.
On 21 minutes, the Liverpool defence was split by a fine chipped pass from Mathieu Flamini.
Robin van Persie got ahead of the two centre-backs and into the penalty area, but as the ball dropped, the Dutchman could only fire a left-footed volley over the crossbar.
Reina then had to get down quickly to deny the Arsenal striker, who sent in a low shot from the edge of the box.
From the resulting corner, after 23 minutes, the Gunners took the lead.
Van Persie knocked the ball short to Fabregas before he whipped it into the area, where Adebayor leapt highest to nod his first goal since scoring in the defeat of Milan at the San Siro.
However, Arsenal's lead was short-lived as the visitors grabbed what could yet prove to be a crucial away goal in the 26th minute.
Gerrard powered into the left side of the penalty box, charging past three defenders.
The Liverpool skipper kept his feet to send over a low cross, which Kuyt bundled in ahead of full-back Gael Clichy.
The visitors were clearly lifted by their goal and enjoyed a decent spell of possession as the half-hour mark passed.
However, despite plenty of action around both penalty areas, neither side was able to find a penetrating pass.
Liverpool had a chance just after the restart, and Manuel Almunia needed to get down quickly to smother Kuyt's snapshot.
Arsenal introduced England squad man Theo Walcott, to replace van Persie, for the second half and the teenager looked lively down the left as Hleb was given more freedom in an advanced role.
Walcott picked up the ball and let fly from 25 yards, but his shot was always going wide of Reina's right-hand post.
Again both teams were not scared of going forwards, however once more they lacked a decisive pass in the final third.
On 65 minutes, there was a double let-off for Liverpool when Martin Skrtel blocked Emmanuel Eboue's effort before Arsenal had what looked a certain penalty turned down by the Dutch referee.
Hleb weaved into the box, before he clearly was tugged back by Kuyt.
However, referee Pieter Vink was unconvinced and signalled instead only for a corner.
Wenger sent on Nicklas Bendtner for the final 24 minutes, replacing Eboue as Walcott moved out to the right and Hleb to the left.
The Danish striker was soon in the thick of the action, somehow managing to keep out Fabregas' goalbound effort while on the line - although he was flagged offside.
Arsenal continued to press in the closing stages, and in stoppage time Fabregas dived in to meet Adebayor's cross, but his header lacked power and Reina comfortably collected.Liverpool - with 10 men behind the ball for long spells - held firm and take the upper hand into next Tuesday's second leg at Anfield.
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