LIVERPOOL: SUPERSUBS?

LUIS Suarez stands five paces from the ball; 25 yards from goal. The Kop stands, expectant. Something brilliant is about to happen. Jaws prepare to drop and spines ready themselves to tingle.

Approaching the ball side on, the Uruguayan whips it goalwards with his magical right boot. It sails over the wall, it curls beyond the left-hand post, but not before swerving back within the frame of the goal posts. It’s nestled into the back of the net before a despairing, diving Vyacheslav Malafeev can get his gloves anywhere near it.

Suarez and Anfield roar as one. His divine free-kick has just put Liverpool 3-1 up against Zenit St Petersburg. From being 3-0 down on aggregate, they now have half an hour to score one more goal to progress to the Last 16 of the Europa League. The momentum is theirs. The Reds are rampant. Rodgers knows it. Anfield knows it. Zenit know it. They’re on the ropes.

A double substitution had been lined up, and Rodgers follows through with it despite the change in scoreline; the change in emphasis. Thirty seconds after the goal he changes it up, with Liverpool in the ascendancy he looks to his bench to provide the fresh legs to kill off the Russians. Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson, the foundation of Liverpool’s comeback are withdrawn. Oussama Assaidi and Jonjo Shelvey are introduced.

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