Poor first touch costs Liverpool F.C. and Jordan Henderson dear

Written by Reuters | Updated: Apr 15 2014, 01:07am hrs
As Liverpool F.C. were clinging to a 3-2 lead over title rivals Manchester City in stoppage time at Anfield on Sunday, midfielder Jordan Henderson paid the ultimate penalty for a poor first touch as the home team sought to break clear.

The 23-year-old's heavy contact pushed the ball towards Samir Nasri and, desperate to regain control, Henderson's lunge scythed the Frenchman down and left referee Mark Clattenburg with no choice other than to issue a red card for dangerous play.

The England international screamed at the heavens as he trudged off the pitch, knowing his part in what Liverpool F.C. fans hope will be a run to a first league title for 24 years would be diminished.

Although Liverpool F.C. saw out the remaining minutes to claim a vital victory to stay two points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table, Henderson is now almost certain to miss three of the final four games of the run in.

"I was disappointed for Jordan because anyone who knows Jordan could see he's just overran it on his touch and he's actually got the top of the ball," manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC after the match.

"He's not a malicious player, he's not a player that goes with any intent to hurt anyone. That's been the only disappointment of the day because he's been absolutely brilliant for us."

Henderson has been an integral player for Liverpool F.C. this season, improving to become a first choice selection despite being asked to be a makeweight in failed deal to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham at start of last season.


The only outfielder to start every game, he has scored four goals and laid on seven more and his pressing and energy have been crucial to Liverpool F.C.'s title challenge, with his industry enabling his fellow midfielders a freedom to operate.

It will now be down to either Joe Allen or Brazilian Lucas Leiva to fill the void for the trip to Norwich City next weekend, the crunch home match against Chelsea and the third match of the run-in at Crystal Palace.

Henderson's partnership with Steven Gerrard is likely to be integral to England's hopes of success at this year's World Cup and it was a disciplinary ban for the club captain that Liverpool F.C. fans had been sweating over going into the City game.

Gerrard picked up a ninth yellow card of the season against Cardiff on March 22 and one more caution in the four matches up to and including the City clash would have triggered an automatic three-game ban. He is now clear to play.

In addition to the loss of Henderson, who would return for the final match of the season at home to Newcastle, Liverpool F.C. suffered another blow when striker Daniel Sturridge was substituted with a hamstring injury.

"We'll see over the next couple of days," Rodgers said of the 24-year-old, who has scored 20 Premier League goals this season.

"He felt a wee bit of tightness in his hamstring, so we'll see how that is in the next couple of days."