Royals earn Reds replay
Liverpool held to 1-1 draw by Reading in FA Cup clash
Last Updated: January 2, 2010 7:35pm
Liverpool endured a frustrating afternoon
Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their FA Cup clash with Reading after coming from behind at the Madejski Stadium.
The competition is one of Rafa Benitez's main priorities following a disappointing first half to the season and he sent out a strong side against the Championship strugglers.
But it was Reading who made the brighter start and took a deserved lead in the 24th minute when Liverpool's defensive frailties were exposed at a set-piece and Simon Church tucked the ball away following good work by Grzegorz Rasiak.
The Reds responded strongly and equalised through Steven Gerrard when Dirk Kuyt cleverly stepped over a cross from the England midfielder to deceive goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Reading carved out the better opportunities in an exciting second half but there were no more goals and the teams will now have to resume battle at Anfield.
The Royals impressed in the early stages and had the ball in the net when Jobi McAnuff met Pepe Reina's punch, but the header was correctly ruled out as Rasiak was offside and also impeded the Liverpool goalkeeper to allow the finish to trickle over the line.
Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici was fortunate to escape further punishment when he handled outside the penalty area, claiming a ball Gerrard pushed through to Fabio Aurelio. Martin Atkinson only awarded a free-kick.
The West Yorkshire referee was also lenient when he turned down a Reading appeal for a penalty when Martin Skrtel tugged on Gylfi Sigurdsson's shirt, but Emiliano Insua finally went in the book when he fouled McAnuff on the right flank.
That led to Church's strike. Ryan Bertrand swung over the deep free-kick to the far post, with most Liverpool players expecting the ball to drift out of play.
They did not count on Rasiak darting around Lucas Leiva and pulling the ball back from the byline. Church used his shins to tap in from close range for his fifth goal of the season.
Liverpool looked to Torres to get them back in the game and the Spain striker headed just wide when Dirk Kuyt crossed from the right channel.
It was their other talisman, Gerrard, who grabbed the equaliser. The midfielder picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and shaped to cross, with Kuyt stepping over the delivery to fool Federici.
Gerrard sent Torres through before the break and Federici spread himself well to block the finish, and Aurelio also drilled wide when sent through.
Reading's disgruntled fans spotted their former manager on his duties as a television pundit and chanted "we want our Coppell back", as they hope for a return to the days of success.
The club have been in freefall since relegation from the top flight two seasons ago and the likes of Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt have been sold - but at least the current players were not giving up. Sigurdsson unleashed a swerving shot that required a decent Reina save.
Torres had threatened just after the break when he went just over the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Federici appeared to pull a hamstring midway through the second half, so Ben Hamer came off the bench and saved on the line from Alberto Aquilani before the end.
Torres headed just over in stoppage-time as Liverpool were denied a late winner.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||8|
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