Liverpool 1-0 Everton — live as it happened

Live text commentary as it happened: Liverpool 1-0 Everton

1754 BST: Full-time. Liverpool 1 Everton 0 and Liverpool win the Merseyside derby and do the double over their great city rivals. Torres’ 27th goal of the season seals the deal, and Liverpool jump five points clear of Everton in fourth.

Stoppage time: Gerrard clears the ball with a great clearance. Kuyt is troubling the Everton defence with some sneaky play, staying up and forcing Howard to clear. One minute left.

Liverpool win a free-kick. It would now appear to be game over. Liverpool make one final change — Peter Crouch is on for Steven Gerrard.

90th minute: That results in Torres being replaced for safety by Jermaine Pennant. Torres’ goal in the 7th minute could turn out to be the winner here… Gerrard drives a rasping shot at Howard who tips it out for the corner. Three minutes of stoppage time. Arteta does well at the corner to win the goal kick.

89th minute – YELLOW: Fernando Torres earns a totally needless booking for kicking the ball away to time-waste.

88th minute: Corner taken short. Jagielka heads clear.

87th minute: Hyypia heads away the corner. Carsley wants to shoot but doesn’t get it right and Liverpool clear easily. Down the other end, Kuyt appears to have scored but just missed wide after a deflection.

86th minute: Everton keen to keep a hold of the ball to maximise their chances. Cross from Osman. Reina can’t deal with the cross — scary thoughts of last week’s Man Utd match come to mind — and Skrtel concedes the corner.

84th minute: Arteta squares the free-kick to Fernandes, whose shot from distance is blocked. Liverpool break quickly and Torres plays a brilliant ball in, saved well by Howard.

83rd minute: Carragher gets a cross in but it flies over the goal on the other end and out for a goal kick. Everton win a free-kick in a good position up the other end.

82nd minute: Hibbert takes an attacking throw short. The ball is lost for a goal kick, although Hibbert wants a corner. Ref Webb has to talk to Hibbert about dissent. Replays show it should have been a corner. Babel is taken off for Benayoun.

80th minute: Everton have an attack going. Liverpool’s defence holds strong, however. Liverpool counter. Torres down the left, but can’t get past two defenders in the box. Osman finds Yakubu but Skrtel makes a good challenge.

78th minute: Liverpool keeping possession but appear to be content to hang on to the ball. You cannot help but feel that Everton will somehow get a point from somewhere. Torres caught offside. The ball goes missing for a while and Howard only takes the kick a minute later.

76th minute: The Everton defence switches off and Tim Howard has to rescue his colleagues by clearing the ball outside his box before Ryan Babel can get to it. Liverpool looking for a killer blow here.

75th minute: Torres caught offside. Liverpool should have buried this game a while ago.

74th minute: Everton win a corner. Reina deals with it by punching it away. Goal kick as it comes off Yakubu.

71st minute – YELLOW CARD: Phil Jagielka is booked for a high challenge on Gerrard. Phil Neville is off for Leighton Baines.

69th minute: Yobo loses the ball a bit too easily. Gerrard breaks down the left but his cross is blocked and out for a corner. Eventually cleared short and Everton play upfield quickly. Skrtel reads the situation well and challenges successfully to clear.

66th–68th minutes: Liverpool make a number of good passes but it comes to nothing as Babel’s cross is cleared. Everton break down the other end and win a throw. Taken quickly by Arteta. The cross is headed away and it’s Liverpool’s turn to break. Early ball in from Kuyt is not cleared properly and Alonso has a shot, blocked by Yobo. The resulting corner comes to nothing.

65th minute: Everton have an attacking throw. Taken long by Neville, but headed away. Liverpool win the ball. Gerrard tries to play it early but Jagielka is aware and puts it out into touch.

62nd minute: More from the stats department: Everton have had 60-40 of possession this half. Rafa Benítez is seen discussing something with fourth official Rob Styles.

61st minute: Everton want a penalty. Not given. Replays show Yakubu dived. Fernandes is finally on, he replaces Steven Pienaar.

60th minute: Everton want to bring Manuel Fernandes on, but Osman’s struggling a little and Moyes has to halt the change to consider Osman’s situation.

59th minute: Everton win another free-kick, in a less promising position but still upfield. Arteta’s cross is headed by Osman but it’s wide. Osman has gone down.

58th minute: Everton win a free-kick in an ever-so-promising position.

57th minute: The game’s gone ever so slightly dull right now. Gerrard plays a one-two with Alonso, but the ball is lost further up the field. Rather dull right now.

54th minute: Yakubu’s cross is easily cut out. Liverpool now with possession in midfield, playing well. A loose ball finds its way to Osman, but he wastes the chance. Lee Carsley has gone down hurt after a challenge on Gerrard saw the Liverpool skipper accidentally injure him. He’s back up now though.

53rd minute: Everton have had more possession this half than they had last but need to make something happen soon. Osman finds Pienaar in an offside position.

50th minute: Another little bit from the random stats department: Everton are statistically the ‘cleanest’ team in the Premier League this season, with the lowest number of yellow and red cards. This despite having two men sent off last time they played their Merseyside rivals.

48th minute – YELLOW CARD: Yakubu does well to latch on to a through ball and wins a corner for his team. Taken by Arteta. Reina punches it clear and Babel takes the ball down the left. Brought down by Pienaar who is booked.

46th minute: Right from the get-go, Liverpool threaten again. Everton manage to deal with it, but this surely isn’t a good sign for David Moyes’ men. Torres attempts a little chip from 20 yards which is easily saved.

1705 BST: Everton get us underway in the second half. Will Liverpool be made to pay for failing to take a number of their chances? We’re about to find out.

1704 BST: The teams re-appear for the start of the second half.

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Olympics, media bias and the U.S. race

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Here’s a few stories that have caught my eye in the past few days:

A journalistic boycott of the Olympic Games?

France Televisions’ director of sports said French public TV could boycott coverage of the Beijing Olympics if China bans the broadcast of footage from demonstrations.

“For the time being, we have no intention of boycotting the games,” Daniel Bilalian told RTL radio.

“But if they are censored or sanitized in any way by the Chinese authorities and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] accepts this — which I would very much doubt — this would obviously call into question our stance,” he said.

“At that time, the president of France Televisions, would, without a doubt I believe, decide not to cover the Olympic Games.”

Definitely a good idea if China continues on its current path. I would support any decision to boycott the Games from a journalistic point of view. Let’s hope the government in Beijing will not interfere with pictures coming out of the Games but if it does it would be unforgivable. You’re already censoring your citizens. You have no right to censor the world. China’s journalists are also no doubt being forced to publicly condemn western media for alleged media bias in reporting about Tibet. Also consider that China expelled all foreign scribes from the province.

This has all been organised — planned and organised — by Beijing. And they’re feeding all these twisted facts (if you can even call them that) via its media to its citizens (both at home and abroad) — who’ve now, in one of the more ridiculous moves I’ve seen, set up a site criticising the American broadcaster CNN called — I refuse to link it. The site accuses CNN and the BBC of being “Western Goebbels’ Nazi media”. How ridiculous.

On a brighter note, new research suggests that not only is Senator Barack Obama related to Vice President Dick Cheney, he’s also related to the President himself as well as former wartime British leader Sir Winston Churchill. This makes him indirectly related to Republican rival Senator John McCain, who’s distantly related to First Lady Laura Bush.

Speaking of Senator McCain, he today received the key backing of former first lady Nancy Reagan, who described him as an “old friend” of hers and her late husband, former president Ronald Reagan, since the Vietnam War.

And finally — what about “misspeaking”, eh? Quite a slip up from Senator Clinton.

Man Utd 3-0 Liverpool – live as it happened

Live text commentary as it happened: Man Utd 3–0 Liverpool

1523 GMT: Full time. Manchester United 3 Liverpool 0 after a crazy game. Liverpool looked for a while like getting back into it but United buried the game in the end.

Stoppage time: Three minutes of added time. Liverpool might as well give up playing. Arguably Mascherano would have stayed on the pitch had the Ashley Cole/Alan Hutton/Mike Riley controversy not happen in midweek, but still, it’s not forgivable.

89th minute: Worth pointing out Mascherano is suspended for next weekend’s Merseyside derby. If Everton win that at Anfield, Everton would go fourth by a point.

87th minute: Ronaldo goes down rather easily in the box. No penalty. Only one other team have scored thrice against Liverpool this season — Reading.

86th minute: Arguably the turning point of the match was Mascherano’s absolute stupidity. United are just passing the ball around now.

83rd minute: Defensive substitution as John Arne Riise is on for Fernando Torres. One wonders what Rafa’s trying to accomplish with Peter Crouch left on the bench.

81st minute – GOAL (Man Utd): And that, truly, is game over, as Nani finishes sublimely from just outside the box.

79th minute – GOAL (Man Utd): Liverpool appeal for an offside but Ronaldo is ruled onside – rightly. His attempt at a chip hits the bar. Corner goes in, however, as Cristiano Ronaldo buries the game.

76th minute: Torres goes down under a heavy challenge by Carrick. Bennett goes to have a word with his assistant. Rooney has gone over to the touchline temporarily. Carrick escapes sanction.

73rd minute: Rooney does very well down the left and a brilliant pass finds Anderson, but he wastes the effort, blasting over. Rooney has a niggle right now. United make a double change: Nani on for Ryan Giggs. Anderson comes off for Carlos Tévez. Rooney is really, really struggling.

72nd minute: Gerrard’s speculative effort goes wide. Man Utd have had 70% of possession this half.

70th minute: Liverpool enjoying a good spell right now. Throw-in to Liverpool on the right.

68th minute: Liverpool get a free-kick in a promising position. The kick beats everyone though. Follow-up is cleared and United breaking but Ronaldo’s cross is intercepted well. Torres on a good run trips up in the area and it’s cleared.

66th minute: Yossi Benyoun is on for Ryan Babel.

65th minute: Man Utd pick up another free-kick on the left in a perfect Ronaldo position. The kick hits the wall and it’s cleared.

64th minute: Torres requires a little talking-to as he just catches Vidic slightly late. Torres is on a yellow card, but Bennett handles it well.

62nd minute: Good call as Evra is caught offside. Liverpool getting Yossi Benayoun ready.

62nd minute: Powerful 25-yard attempt from Anderson is safely caught by Reina.

60th minute – YELLOW CARD: For once, it’s a United player into the book as Rio Ferdinand. Very little in it and Bennett could’ve been trying to even things up. Free-kick, taken quickly, almost catches the defence asleep.

58th minute: Liverpool with a rare foray into the United half. Cleared easily. Aurélio does well at the back to hold Ronaldo off.

56th minute: A great clearance by van der Sar finds Rooney unmarked. A great save by Reina with his right foot, and Anderson’s follow up misses wide.

55th minute: Liverpool are pinned back in their own half now and have hardly threatened this half. United are totally dominating the match.

53rd minute – YELLOW CARD: Arbeloa is booked and United have a free-kick on the edge. Barely outside the box though. Free-kick from Ronaldo is wide.

51st minute: Another stat for you. Past five minutes, United have had 80% of the possession to Liverpool’s 20.

47th minute: Busy start to the second half. Reina makes a brilliant point-blank save from Ronaldo then down the other end almost immediately van der Sar has to run out to clear a ball. Gerrard has a good effort parried by the Dutch shot-stopper too.

1435 GMT: The second half kicks off.
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Richardson gives Obama backing

The long-awaited Bill Richardson endorsement has gone to Senator Barack Obama. Governor Richardson (NM), who himself was in the race early on but withdrew following the New Hampshire primary, is expected to make a statement in Portland, OR later today, according to the BBC.

The timing of this appears crucial; it comes nearly exactly one month to the crucial Pennsylvania primary and in the same week as Sen Obama’s dramatic speech about race in the United States, following comments his pastor made in 2001 about the September 11 attacks which were publicised once again this week.

With Sen Obama’s deficit in Pennsylvania to Sen Hillary Clinton having grown since late-February — he now trails by an average of 13 percentage points — this endorsement can only come as a boost.

Another interesting thing of note is a recent Franklin and Marshall poll, which suggests that among Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, 19–20% of them would vote for Republican nominee John McCain in the presidential election in November should their preferred candidate lose to the other Democrat in the race.

This RealClearPolitics aggregation of polls from this past week is really telling of that fact — John McCain has, for the first time, surged past both Sen Clinton and Sen Obama in opinion polls for the presidential election.

Will he be able to hang on to that lead, though?

BBC WHYS question: How should the world react to the trouble in Tibet?

How should the world react to the trouble in Tibet ? « BBC World Have Your Say

An Olympic boycott appears out of the question. Most of the world, including the United States, recognises Tibet to be a part of China, so should it be dismissed as an internal problem that China should handle on its own? That is Russia’s view; at odds with the U.S.’ position that China should hold talks with the Dalai Lama and to, as Secretary of State Dr Condoleeza Rice put it, “respect the fundamental and universally recognised right of … citizens to peacefully express their … views”.

Pressure from the IOC might work; the Games were awarded to China in the hope that it would make China improve its human rights record. But what can the IOC really do? Since a boycott has been ruled out, it would seem the only thing the IOC could do would be to threaten to not let China host another Games ever, but I suspect that would only cause China and its allies to withdraw from the IOC.

United Nations action seems, at first glance, the most sensible thing to do, until you remember that China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council. (Side note: The UN police force in Kosovo suffered a major casualty today, as a Ukrainian officer died from injuries sustained fighting Serb nationalists in Mitrovica.) No resolution mandating UN force will ever get passed.

The best hope would be for the violence to die down on its own, and I fear that won’t happen any time soon.

Did UEFA fix the Champions League draw?

The talk of the sporting blogs recently has been all about the Champions League quarter-final draw, which was held in Nyon, Switzerland, at 13:00 CET on Friday, Mar 14. At 10:28 GMT that day (about 90 minutes ahead of the draw), a poster – nicknamed “confused” – on the Liverpool Echo’s forums started a topic called “Possible leak of draw“.

“Confused” predicted the four ties, as well as their semi final matchups, to be:

Rumour going around draw has been leaked….. this is no doubt rubbish but if Rumour is true it’s LFC – arsenal and Chelsea – fenerbache and manure v roma
No bookies will take bets on the draw either…….

In case it isn’t clear by now, the draw that was made saw the exact same results: Arsenal would face Liverpool, the winner of which would face either Chelsea or Fenerbahçe; and AS Roma v Man Utd, the winner of which would meet the winner from the other quarter final featuring FC Barcelona and Schalke 04.

UEFA have flatly rejected the claims – the odds of getting it spot-on were in the region of 191-1 (119-1 by some sources) – as “impossible” and “ridiculous”. Spokesman William Gaillard (who will be familiar to a lot of English fans, especially Liverpool ones) did point out that the rehearsal draw, held before the actual one, had different results from the actual draw.

That’s not the point here, is it, Mr Gaillard? The point is that people suspect the actual draw was leaked. The practice one could have gone any way, and it wouldn’t have mattered, as it’s not the practice draw that is suspected to have been fixed.

Did UEFA fix the CL draw? And for what?

It’s hard to argue either way. 191-1 are tremendously incredible odds. Would UEFA have a motive for doing so? Yes, money. But surely then they’d have paired Chelsea and Barcelona together. So perhaps they didn’t fix it.

Either way, with UEFA strenuously denying it, we’ll never know, will we?

Pew study: If Obama is candidate, some Dems may vote McCain

Was reading Justin Webb‘s latest blog post today, and he links to a National Journal article which in turn cites a recent Pew Research Center study, dated February 28, 2008:

Summary of Findings: Obama Has The Lead, But Potential Problems Too

I found this bit particularly interesting:

Although attention has been focused on McCain’s problems with the GOP base, there are indications that some Democrats might defect if Obama is the party’s nominee. Overall, 20% of white Democratic voters say they would vote for McCain if Obama is the Democratic nominee. That is twice the percentage of white Democrats who say they would support McCain in a Clinton-McCain matchup. Older Democrats (ages 65 and older), lower-income and less educated Democrats also would support McCain at higher levels if Obama rather than Clinton is the party’s nominee.

Justin Webb asks if this is “Racism or educationism?”

It’s a good question and tough to call. I would, personally, argue that less-educated people (not just Democrats) would be more susceptible to making racially-based judgements, so it’s probably a little bit of both. Then again, is it really a surprise? What the study does not consider (or at least, was not considered in the published report) is the widespread concern (yes, there is one) that Sen Obama, with his flawless poise, could go the way of two people he has been compared to – Dr Martin Luther King Jr and former President John F. Kennedy. It is still possible that out of concern for him, some people would rather vote Sen McCain over Sen Obama.

Other interesting findings include one about Sen McCain’s age:

Nearly a third of all voters (32%) believe that, at 71 years old, McCain is too old to be president, while 66% say that being 71 does not make him too old. Opinions about whether McCain is too old to be president are comparable with views about Bob Dole during the 1996 campaign. In March 1996, 34% said Dole, who would have been 73 upon inauguration, was too old, while 63% said he was not.

Arguably Sen McCain would be a single-term president at his age. However, surely you should be judging people based on whether they’re qualified for the job or not? My personal opinion is that Sen McCain is more qualified than Sen Obama, and I would hope his age doesn’t count against him. Even a single-term presidency for Sen McCain would be better than a half-term for Sen Obama, especially when we start talking about foreign affairs and the War in Iraq – which I will get to now.

Pew findings about War in Iraq
(Graphic: Pew Research Center)

This certainly suggests that the American public do feel that things are improving in Iraq. Since the military troop surge, security and safety in Iraq has improved slightly. Although suicide bombings and kidnappings continue, they certainly are not at the rate as they were in 2004.

If you ask most Iraqis, many of them want the Americans to stay put. Some of them, including the government in Baghdad, want the Americans to help with Iraq’s development. Others say the U.S. should finish what it started in a “you came here and wrecked this place, you stay here and clean it up” kind of way.

On last week’s BBC Radio 4 From Our Own Correspondent programme, the BBC’s Hugh Sykes in Baghdad interviewed Baghdad residents over the electricity issue – there is just not enough power in the country. And, as with any report about Iraq, the story touched on terrorism. One respondent told him, “If America leaves, there will be a massacre.”

That’s where the American Presidential race comes back into play. As we all know, both Sens Obama and Clinton want troops out of Iraq and have promised to start withdrawing troops if elected. Sen McCain backed the troop surge and would likely keep a fairly sizeable number of forces stationed in the country.

It’s the United States that is maintaining security in the region right now, not Iraq. If the U.S. withdraw, widespread violence could easily spill over into neighbouring countries, and the price of oil – already at a record high $109 – could easily spike further. It appears to me Sen Obama and Sen Clinton are oblivious to this.

Back to the Pew study. Sen Obama, very obviously, has the lead; the report says “70% of Democratic voters — including 52% of those who support Clinton — say that Obama is most likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination.” Unfortunately for the Democrats, with Florida and Michigan both making noise now and senior leaders unlikely to want to alienate voters in both states, this contest is, in truth, far from over…