Reds see off Athletic Club in Dublin friendly

Match Report

Liverpool’s last pre season friendly kicked off with the evening sun beaming down in the stunning Aviva stadium, where just over 50,000 Liverpool fans belted out You’ll Never Walk Alone as their team beat Athletic Club 3-1.

The Reds were quickest off the mark as Divock Origi slotted agonisingly wide of the post after amazing link up play between Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

The Belgian striker then went close again as Alberto Moreno flew down the left-hand side, with the Spaniard vying for an uncommon starting role in next week’s Premier League opener.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was equally at home at right-back as he filled in for the injured Nathaniel Clyne, with the youngster making an extremely strong case for a starting position regardless of Clyne’s situation, potentially getting the nod ahead of Jon Flanagan and Joe Gomez.

Emre Can and Marko Grujic began to boss the midfield as the half developed, although they did perhaps overhold and lose possession on occasion, although the German was particularly impressive in retrieving it not long after.

The deadlock was then broken in the 20th minute as clever work allowed Firmino to lose his man in the box and win a penalty for his side, and the number nine picked himself up to dispatch it confidently into the bottom corner.

Origi came close again with a glancing header but a poor touch from the forward led to an Athletic attack, yet Ager Aketxe could only slice wide, with Sabin Merino coming close shortly after.

Origi was again at fault with poor hold up play to allow the Spanish side to break, impressively bursting through the Liverpool defence, and the ball found the energetic Inaki Williams who provided a composed finish to draw the sides level heading into half-time.

The always-enthusiastic Jurgen Klopp switched his entire starting XI at half-time, except for keeper Simon Mignolet, who will be aware of his competition in Loris Karius and Danny Ward, who both featured in previous pre-season ties.

The Reds now boasted a talented youthful contingent, including bright sparks Ovie Ejaria and Ryan Kent, whose skills were on show in the second half. The latter has proven his ability already this summer with some brilliant performances but is rumoured to be heading to the Championship on loan for the upcoming season for further experience.

It was, however, Sadie Mane who shone, taking over from the fantastic efforts from Salah in the exciting first half, where Liverpool could have easily scored three or four.

New boys Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke linked up well down the left-hand side, and it was the formidable forward who delivered for Ben Woodburn, who teed the ball up for himself and whipped a left footed shot into the far corner to give Liverpool the lead on the hour mark.

Soon after and it was Ragnar Klavan who turned provider as he crossed for Solanke, and the England under 20 international found the back of the net with another well-placed header to make it 3-1 and an impressive pre-season overall, turning out to be quite the revelation since his clever signature from rivals Chelsea.

The Spanish side could only test Mignolet once in the second half and looked understandably tired after their Europa League victory on Thursday night, albeit this weakened outfit were missing the likes of star players Aritz Aduriz and Iker Muniain.

It was a great run out for Klopp’s men as important players got some well-needed game time in front of a jubilant crowd. The Reds now await the return of Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson in what they hope will be the near future, while Adam Lallana’s unfortunate injury will be a much longer wait.

It was a typical Liverpool performance as defensive woes once again overshadowed some simply incredible attacking display, but Klopp will return to England satisfied after a comfortable victory in their final preparations for a tough test away to Watford on Saturday afternoon.