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Manchester City host Liverpool at Eastlands for an intriguing League cup semi-final. We’re always keen for you crazy guys involved and give us your thoughts so feel free to tweet us at @thescore_ie or email adrian@thescore.ie.

If you’re more of a Facebook person, you can also find us here of course.

Full-time: Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1

Full-time: Tottenham 2 Everton 0

And, as Derren Brown says… we’re back in the room.

Manchester City and Liverpool go at it again at Eastlands this evening in a much-anticipated Carling Cup semi-final. The Reds lost 3-0 at the Etihad in a Premier League clash last week.

The good news for comedy fans? Striker Mario Balotelli is back from a three-match absence to start for City.

The Italian was sent off in the 1-1 draw at Anfield in November and hasn’t played since Stephen’s Day because of an ankle injury. You’ve got to love Mario, right?

Liverpool, meanwhile, have made three changes from that game in Mancehster last week. Skipper Steven Gerrard and former City forward Craig Bellamy are back in the starting XI while Martin Kelly plays at right-back with Glen Johnson switching to the left of defence.

We’ll have the full line-ups in a sec. In the meantime, let’s have your predictions.

Elsewhere of course, Tottenham host Everton at White Hart Lane. This extra, midweek fixture is brought to you thanks to the London riots.

You’ll remeber the tie was postponed on the first day of the season because of the trouble in north London. We’ll keep an eye on that too.

By the way, for those of you who didn’t realise it – the City v Liverpool game is actually on BBC tonight. Just keep the laptop cracked open too.

Is there a joy greater hearing the Match of the Day theme tune on a Wednesday night in January?

No. No, there’s not.

So, for those of you scrambling around for Fantasy Football points, here are the Spurs and Toffees sides.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Livermore, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor.

Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Pienaar.

Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Donovan, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Fellaini, Anichebe, Saha.

Subs: Mucha, Drenthe, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Vellios, Duffy.

As I type, Alan Hansen has informed us that he’s made himself available for Kenny Dalglish, given the comebacks in the Premier League recently. I reckon Shearer could still do a job (or the elbowing part of his job at least).

On a day in which Newcastle United ‘rubbished’ claims that Andy Carroll was on the way back east in a cut-price move home to Tyneside, the big striker is in the team.

Here’s the teams:

Man City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, de Jong, A. Johnson, Milner, Balotelli, Aguero.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly, Downing, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Bellamy, Carroll.

Gianfranco Zola is sitting in the stands on his own. Gary Lineker takes the tap-in as always: “He’s a bit like Man City tonight – no Kompany.”

Here’s some of what Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has to say before kick-off: “It’s a long time since we’ve been involved in two-legged competition. We’ll take it as it comes. We’ve got a lot of attacking players at your disposal, so we might as well use them.

“We came here a week ago and got beat three so we know what we’re up against. We take encouragement form our own team-sheet. They’ve got a fantastic squad of players and if they’re making a couple of players they’ll just play another two, who are probably not far behind them. We respect who’s ever in.”

The lights are down at Eastlands for the ‘Blue Moon’ intro, which is rudely interrupted by the travelling Scousers who chant ‘Liverpoooool’ throughout.

The teams are out and we’re almost good to go. Do you think I have time to make a cuppa.

MISS Andy Carroll was just denied by Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal. The big  striker was played though as he got on the right side of Savic – but his shot was right at the onrushing England keeper.

Liverpool have had the better of the first five minutes, in truth, with the likes of Bellamy, Gerrard and Downing (if you’re into that sort of thing) looking lively.

Joe Hart is on fire, ladies and gentlemen.

First, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has had his first shot on goal – and it wasn’t bad. Hart got down into the corner and put it behind. From the corner Carroll flicked on a Downing shot and again the England man got it behind. Unbelievable stuff.

GOAL Man City 0 Liverpool 1 (Gerrard 13′) Hart could do little about that. From the third corner on the trot, Savic cleaned Agger out of it, catching him with his studs on the knee. The ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Stevie G had no qualms about drilling it past Hart either.

It’s no more than the visitors deserve after almost 15 minutes of play, the travelling supporters are in full voice. And Savic looks a liability for Mancini. This will be very interesting now.

Charlie Adam is coming on as Jay Spearing looks to have done his hamstring. He’s sitting on the turf feeling the back of his left leg.  Replays show he pinged it as he routinely passed from the centre circle. As the Scot trots on, Lawro is asked what he pulled most during his career.

“I couldn’t possibly answer that,” he replies. He’s here all week, folks.

The atmosphere at Eastlands now seems well and truly muted as the Reds have now settled into a very patient rhythm.

BALOTELLI ALERT! Charlie Adam fouled the Italian about 40 yards out from goal and as they fell to the ground Adam added a little slap on the top of the head.

The striker got up and made a beeline for the Scot before James Milner got in his way and the ref blew his whistle from a safe distance. Mario then drove the ball into Adam from the free kick. I think he meant it.

So Aaron Lennon has put Spurs one-up at White Hart Lane against Everton. At Eastlands, Mario Balotelli might well ask: why always me?

The BBC commentators are completely focused on the the City striker who is in funny form tonight. His latest attempt at controlling the ball came off his shin and over the sideline.

The home crowd have just offered us their loudest contribution all night as Steven Gerrard fouls James Milner. They’re not happy with that Vincent Kompany ruling are they?

As I type, Mancini has taken Balotelli off, in favour of Samir Nasri. He’s straight up the tunnel. Goodnight, nurse.

Pepe Reina is called into action for the first time since he pulled on hsi gloves tonight. Man City built from the back, with Aguero cutting in form the side. After he won a throw-in, the ball came to substitute Nasri, who got a shot away.  The ball skipped up in front of the Spanish keeper at the last moment but he parried it away effectively.

Moments later, Micah Richards skinned Glen Johnson – who’s playing on the left side, unusually – and pulled it back for Milner. He drove it well over though. Much, much better from the home side.

Man City have a free kick on the edge of the box. The ball should have been up the other side of the stadium but Martin Skrtel gave it away cheaply.

Adam Johnson takes the kick – which is the very last of the half – and doesn’t get it anywhere near Reina’s goal. The sides head for the tunnel with Rock’n'Roll Star by Oasis playing over the tannoy.

What did you make of that?

Big issue of the night: What do you make of Shearer’s suit? Ladies Day at Ascot? Wedding afters of two of the Geordie Shore cast? Job interview at Top Man?

If nothing else, they play GREAT music at Eastlands. The teams are emerging to Joy Division’s Transmission.


YouTube credit: schmucklos

… And we’re back up and running on the pitch now too.

City have pinned Liverpool back for the first five minutes of the second period. Nasri looks busy since he came on for the somnolent Balotelli and the full backs are bombing on a bit.

But Liverpool have soaked it all up so far and the visiting supporters are making their presence felt.

Ooof! Liverpool got away with that. Martin Kelly turned on the ball in the right back position and played a ball back to his keeper.

The Liverpool full back hadn’t spotted Sergio Aguero, however, who was lurking with intent; he nipped in, took the ball but his shot was knocked behind by Reina. Kelly apologises sheepishly.

GOAL Tottenham 2 Everton 0 (Assou-Ekotto) Spurs keep their undercover title drive on track at white Hart Lane. They’ve gone two-up through a very unlikely source.

Back at Eastlands, Glen Johnson has no idea where he’s supposed to play. I’ve been that soldier, dude.  Jose Enrique has come on and Steven Gerrard is pushing the England defender further up the field. He looks confused

Here’s Iain Macintosh’s description of that second Spurs goal:

In the meantime, Dzeko is on for Johnson with 65-ish minutes on the clock.

Kolorov is on for Nigel de Jong while Steven Gerrard is telling Glen Johnson to get back to full back and Martin Kelly to go into the centre.

Man City have had the best of this half so far – Nasri’s sent a shot whistling over the bar in the last few moments and earlier Aguero sent half the Liverpool to the shops with a drop of his shoulder and shot on the turn. But the Reds have held out so far.

Kolorov scored a wonderful free-kick against Manchester rivals United last weekend – and as he came on for De Jong earlier, he was referred to as ‘special teams’. But he’s taken a shot there from a good 40 yards out that must make Roberto Mancini want to pull David Platt’s hair out.

The move started when Micah Richards won the ball in the centre of midfield with a high foot and drove on before passing to he sub. There’s been a lot of good work done through Richards tonight.

The City fans sportingly applaud old boy Craig Bellamy as he wanders towards the bench to be replaced by Jamie Carragher. Lawro reckons the veteran defender will sit in front of the back four and protect this one-goal lead as he head into the final 10 minutes of a poor enough second half.

FIGHT! Nasri v Carragher? I know who I’d back.

The French playmaker takes umbrage to Carra having a little kick and they square up a bit. Can I be the first to say: handbags. Both are booked for their troubles. Five minutes left.

Here’s a clip of Gerrard’s goal, which looks to have won this first leg for Liverpool, if that’s not jumping the gun. Can someone explain to me while all the lettering and numbers are backwards? You can see that too, right?


YouTube credit: JonteForreman

In injury time, Aguero almost equalised. Liverpool gave away a needless free outside the box, the ball was floated in and the Argentine headed just over.  And now they’ve got another…

…Milner lofted it in but who was there to nod it clear? Mr Carroll. And when another wave of aerial attack again came in, the big striker used his head well again.

Moments later, sub Edin Dzeko threw himself to the ground it seemed, in search of a cheap penalty. No chance.

FULL-TIME Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1

There goes the whistle. The Reds head back to Merseyside with a one-goal lead and one foot in Wembley. City looked flat, uninterested and one-dimensional. Liverpool parked the bus after an impressive first half.

As one colleague asks from behind a computer screen here in the office: ‘is that city in crisis now?’ Moments later, Alan Hansen says that, yes, Roberto Mancini are indeed ‘in crisis’ and lacking a leader.

What did you think of that game?

Mancini is in great form again. Jesus.

“The first half we didn’t play well, yes.” Pause, awkward silence. ”In the second half, Liverpool didn’t pass the middle pitch,” he adds gesturing past interviewer Damien Johnson. “We knew before the game that it was difficuly.

Are you lacking leaders, he’s asked?

“It is clear with out three or four players it is more difficult. I don’t understand your first question.  The result is not right, for me it was a draw maybe.  And I want to see the tackle that Johnson did against Adam. For me that was worse than what Kompany did against United.”

Gerrard accuses Mancini of hypocrisy, criticising Mancini for ‘trying to get one of our players sent off’ after he complained about Glen Johnson’s blatantly two-footed tackle on Johnson, days after he had a go at Rooney.

So that’s your lot. Liverpool are in the driving seat, Spurs are still in that title race and Roberto Mancini is not happy.  Keep the comments coming – particularly on that Glen Johnson kung-fu, two-footed tackle which so enraged the Italian.

Football eh? Bloody hell.

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