So ... that was strange. Really, really strange. Liverpool emerged 3-2 winners against Blackburn at Ewood Park after a topsy-turvy match that featured all sorts of craziness.
Take, for example, Liverpool cruising through a match. That's pretty weird these days, but by the 16th minute the visitors were up 2-nil via a Maxi Rodríguez brace (Maxi starting is also weird), and looked like they were going to lay an absolute beating on an off-the-pace-looking Blackburn. The first goal was simplicity itself -- a brilliant diagonal ball from Martin Skrtel to Craig Bellamy, who crossed low for Maxi to tap home from range. The second was a rebound after good work from Jonjo Shelvey and subpar but effective play from Andy Carroll.
In fact, the only thing that seemed to be going wrong with Liverpool's day was John Flanagan's extravagant attempts at getting himself sent off. The young defender managed to pick up a booking just before the opener for a foul on Marcus Olsson, and then put in another yellow-card-worthy challenge on the same player at the 20-minute mark, only to be let off the hook by referee Mark Halsey.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, that just meant Flanagan switched targets, and the 19-year-old's focus settled squarely on second-choice keeper Doni. His method was simple: Hang his goalkeeper out to cry with a backpass that would essentially force him to concede a penalty by bringing down Junior Hoilett. Since it was also a clear goal-scoring opportunity, Doni had to walk, and Kenny Dalglish brought on Brad Jones to replace replace him, mercifully yanking Flanagan in the process.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni took the spot kick with the knowledge that a goal would see his side well and truly back in the game. He started his run up, waited for Jones to commit, and then shot weakly straight at the substitute's chest for some reason. Unsurprisingly, Jones, who is a professional goalkeeper, did not have a problem holding onto the penalty and the margin remained at 2-0.
Until it wasn't. Liverpool's defence decided not to bother actually marking anyone on a 36th-minute free kick, and Yakubu, who was given as much space as he had on the penalty, made no mistake this time in glancing a header into the bottom corner. What would normally happen at this point is that the team with 10 men would drop into a defensive shell and hope they could play another 55 minutes or so without conceding.
Naturally, that's not what happened. Instead, Liverpool spent much of the opening to the second half as the better side, playing solid football until possession got near Carroll, and actually looked more likely to score than their hosts. Then disaster struck. Yakubu closed down Jones when the goalkeeper was attempting to punt long, blocking the kick with his voluminous posterior and then forcing a foul when Jones scrambled for the loose ball.
Halsey reached for his pocket and produced a yellow card. It was probably the right call, but millions around the world were hoping for a red merely for hilarity's sake, so boooo to Mark Halsey for being correct. Anyway, Yakubu managed to produce another hilariously tame penalty, but Jones dove out of the way and the match was back to level pegging at 2-2.
In injury time, just as it seemed as though the spoils would be shared, Liverpool struck. A corner wasn't entirely cleared and the ball was flung back into the danger zone for Daniel Agger to flick onward and then for Carroll to crash home. No, that wasn't a typo. Andy Carroll scored the winner in this game. Life sure can be crazy.