Monday, January 9, 2012

9 January 2007 - Baptista Catches Fire

On 9 January 2007, Liverpool and Arsenal played a 9-goal thriller in the Carling Cup 5th Round, including a missed penalty.

The quarterfinal meeting paired the Premier League's third- and fourth-place teams, with hosts Liverpool sitting one point higher than Arsenal. But the Gunners were confident having beaten Liverpool 1-3 at Anfield in the FA Cup the previous week (they had also won 3-0 in the league back in November).

It was a day to remember for Arsenal striker Julio Baptista, who--after several years of rumors linking him to the club--had finally joined the Londoners at the start of the season on loan from Real Madrid. Despite his reputation as a prolific scorer, he started the day with only one goal to his Arsenal account. That changed in the 40th minute. After a pair of early goals from Arsenal's Jérémie Aliadière and Liverpool's Robbie Fowler, Baptista broke the deadlock with a 25-yard free kick.

Then, after Alex Song put Arsenal ahead 3-1 with what appeared to be a handball off a corner kick in the 45th minute, Baptista quickly struck again before the break, delivering the ball to Aliadière on the wing then receiving it back to tap into an open net. He had a chance for a hat-trick early in the second half when Aliadière earned a penalty, but Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek parried Baptista's shot.

He eventually completed his hat-trick in the 60th minute and added a fourth in the 84th minute, while Liverpool got goals from Steven Gerrard (68') and Sami Hyypia (80') to finish the day at 3-6. Arsenal went on to reach the final, where they lost to Chelsea, while both Baptista and Aliadière moved away from Arsenal at the end of the season.

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