Liverpool end winless run with 3-1 victory over Lyon
After four games without a win in pre-season, the switch to the Alps and the return of their big guns triggered an upsurge in performance level for the Reds. Sadio Mane was the only notable absentee as he has yet to return after his African Cup of Nations exploits with Senegal.
Firmino spared the blushes of Alisson – whose early gaffe handed Lyon a penalty, converted by Memphis Depay (4) – with a tidy finish to level the scores (17). That settled Jurgen Klopp’s men down and a comical Joachim Andersen own goal put them in charge before Harry Wilson cracked in a stunning 25-yard effort (53).
Ahead of the Community Shield against Manchester City on Sunday, Klopp gave all of his 25-man squad a run-out by making wholesale changes in the second-half – with 16-year-old Harvey Elliott, a recent acquisition from Fulham, putting in an impressive cameo.
Klopp was able to start Alisson, Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Salah and Naby Keita for the first time this summer but it was a nervy start – summed up by Alisson’s horrendous early clanger.
He allowed a routine cross to juggle out of his clutches which allowed Mousa Dembele the chance to nip in and the goalkeeper was late to the loose ball which resulted in the striker winning a penalty. Depay dispatched the spot kick but Liverpool sprung into life and drew level on 17 minutes. Shaqiri’s centre deflected into the path of the switched on Firmino, who turned home from a tight angle into the far corner.
Liverpool were soon in front when young full-back Ki-Jana Hoever’s cross was spectacularly shinned into his own net by Andersen. Firmino and Shaqiri were withdrawn on 30 minutes but Liverpool maintained their control on the game. Salah and Keita departed at the break before Wilson gave his team a two-goal cushion. The former on-loan Derby man rifled a powerful effort into the top corner from 25 yards to show Klopp he’s capable of mixing it at the top level.
Klopp made 11 further changes with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Elliott showing dangerous movement out wide.
Klopp: An important win
“It was good to finish on a high – it was important. A lot of things were really good, although the first goal we conceded was like slapstick. Welcome back Alisson! He’s looked brilliant in training and looked brilliant in the game but it was just one situation – he just needs to get used to his gloves again. Apart from that it was a good game. “Lyon played Arsenal and won there – we didn’t make them look good tonight, they are a good side. It wasn’t the highest level we could play but it was an important step. I liked it.”
Bobby back with a bang
Firmino showed his importance to this Liverpool side with a masterclass in the central striking role in his 30 minutes on the pitch. Without his presence, Klopp’s men had struggled for creativity in pre-season, especially against Napoli in their 3-0 defeat. But the Brazilian was back from his break and his contribution was huge as he linked the play in typical classy fashion. Plus, he took his goal supremely well from a tight angle. He’s becoming an irreplaceable part of Klopp’s team. Without him, Liverpool aren’t the same beast.
Elliott part of Klopp’s plans?
Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid all were reportedly keen to prize Elliott away from Fulham – and on this 30 minute cameo it’s easy to see why. Liverpool look to have a serious talent on their hands. Fulham are owed a fee, due to be decided by the Professional Football Compensation Committee, for developing the player who became the Premier League’s youngest debutant in Fulham’s defeat to Wolves – aged 16 years and 30 days.
Sent on for the final 30 minutes, he seized his opportunity from the right wing, demanding the ball at every opportunity and looking to be positive which forced Lyon to sit deeper. His confidence was clear to see in one situation where Trent Alexander-Arnold lined up a free-kick from 30 yards and Elliott was on the scene to see if he could have a stab. His promise is pretty scary and Klopp, who was impressed with the youngster’s confidence, could be tempted to make him part of his first-team plans this season. He said: “At this age you can’t be as experienced as the other but you can be more cheeky than the others – and we saw that in a few moments from Harvey. He’s not bothered who runs around him. It was really nice.”