Blackpool upsets Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield
LIVERPOOL, England (AP)
Liverpool's season went from bad to worse on Sunday as it slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to promoted Blackpool and remained in the Premier League's relegation zone.
The visitors went ahead through a penalty by Charlie Adam before striker Luke Varney gave them a two-goal cushion in first-half injury time.
Liverpool, which lost striker Fernando Torres to a groin injury early on, was much better after the break and halved the deficit through Sotirios Kyrgiakos' 53rd-minute header.
Blackpool, though, held on to cause an upset at Anfield and pile the pressure on the Reds' new manager Roy Hodgson, whose team stayed third from bottom after seven matches.
''Their great result is our nightmare result. It is a very bad day and there is nothing I can say,'' Hodgson said.
Liverpool fans staged a pre-match protest march against American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., who put the club up for sale in April and face a deadline to repay a debt which has grown from 237 million pounds ($371 million) to about 280 million pounds.
But things appear just as bad on the pitch as the team's winless run extended to five matches with another poor performance, which came on the heels of a 0-0 draw at Utrecht in the Europa League on Thursday. Liverpool was also knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Northampton at the third-round stage two weeks ago.
''At the moment things look bleak and really bad and it is difficult for me to put a bright face upon it,'' Hodgson said. ''There are 31 games left but when you are in the relegation zone you are in a relegation battle.''
Liverpool began the day in its lowest position in the standings this season but was expected to see off a Blackpool side which conceded a total of 10 goals in away league matches at Chelsea and Arsenal.
The home side, however, made the worst possible start by losing Torres in the 10th minute to a suspected groin injury and then going a goal behind to Adam's penalty.
Varney was brought down by Glen Johnson in the 28th minute and the Scotland midfielder stepped up to smash his kick past Jose Reina, although the goalkeeper got a touch to the ball.
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has vowed to maintain an attacking philosophy all season, even away from home, and a team containing three attackers caused Liverpool problems throughout the first half.
A number of half-chances fell the hosts' way but Kyrgiakos headed over, Johnson shot off target and David Ngog - who came on for Torres - had an effort saved by Matthew Gilks.
Varney made Liverpool pay by putting Blackpool 2-0 ahead in stoppage time, running onto a flick by Gary Taylor-Fletcher and shooting past Reina from just inside the area.
Liverpool started the second half well and after Ngog headed wide from Dirk Kuyt's cross, Greece center back Kyrgiakos met Steven Gerrard's free kick to plant a header past Gilks.
Hodgson's side kept up the pressure and Joe Cole lifted a deft finish over Gilks but just wide of the post on the hour mark.
It continued to be one-way traffic but Gilks proved to be Blackpool's savior in stoppage time, keeping out a shot by Kyrgiakos.
''This is a fantastic moment for Blackpool,'' manager Ian Holloway said. ''The boys made me so proud and for that set of supporters to clap us off, that is all I wanted - that was what my dream was last night.''