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Mido's late penalty frustrates Liverpool

Thursday, January 29, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:30 AM

WIGAN – Liverpool's title challenge suffered another setback on Wednesday as Wigan striker Mido hit a debut penalty to earn a 1-1 draw at the JJB Stadium.

Mido's late penalty frustrates Liverpool Wigan Athletic's Egyptian forward Mido (C) wins a header from Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder

Rafael Benitez's side looked set for their first Premier League win of 2009 when Yossi Benayoun fired them into a first half lead.

But Liverpool's old problems came back to haunt them as once again they failed to protect a lead.

With seven minutes remaining, Lucas Leiva needlessly fouled Wigan substitute Jason Koumas in the penalty area and Egyptian star Mido, who is on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, sent Jose Reina the wrong way from the penalty.

Having started January on top of the table, Liverpool end it two points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who also have a game in hand.

Liverpool had started brightly, Fernando Torres denied his first Premier League goal since October 5 when his glancing header from Steven Gerrard's 13th minute cross rebounded off the post.

Torres was proving a difficult opponent for Wigan's defence. Four minutes later he went close with a shot on the turn from the edge of the area as Liverpool stroked the ball around with confidence.

Wigan looked almost unrecognisable from their last outing in the top-tier 11 days earlier at Manchester City.

Steve Bruce's club have, surprisingly, proved one of the busiest clubs in the transfer window with Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios raking in a combined fee of 17.5 million pounds after moving to Aston Villa and Tottenham respectively.

Their departures has paved the way for a string of new arrivals at the JJB including Mido, who partnered international team mate Amr Zaki in attack.

Yet it was an unlikely source who came closest to troubling Liverpool in a first half of few chances as Emmerson Boyce was allowed a free header from close range which the defender failed to make the best of the opportunity.

Liverpool ended the half strongly, Ryan Babel dispatching a goal bound shot which was so fierce that Mike Pollitt was unable to hold on before Benayoun broke the deadlock in the 41st minute on his favourite Premier League ground.

Benayoun is not renowned for his scoring ability yet he fully deserved his second goal of the campaign after rounding Pollitt before finding the net from an acute angle following a defence-splitting pass by Javier Mascherano.

It was hardly surprising that he should breach the Wigan defence.

After all he did score Liverpool's winner in the corresponding fixture last season and also netted at the JJB Stadium during West Ham's 3-0 win over Wigan in 2007.

Liverpool's recent problems have stemmed from their inability to kill teams off which has forced them to concede pole position in the table.

They were guilty of it as recently as last week when they allowed Everton to equalise three minutes from time at Anfield having led the Merseyside derby for half an hour.

It was something that was clearly on their mind as they started the second half looking to put the game out of Wigan's reach.

Fabio Aurelio went close to doubling his side's advantage from a free -kick while Gerrard went even closer with a rasping effort in the 74th minute.

Yet Liverpool's old problems came back to haunt them in spectacular style as Mido sent Reina the wrong way from the penalty spot after Lucas had needlessly fouled substitute Koumas.

It could have been worse for Liverpool, debutant Hugo Rodallega hitting the bar in the dying seconds on his Wigan debut.

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