Liverpool : Allen 23', Henderson 63'
Steven Gerrard gets an easy victory in his testimonial as Liverpool defeat Olympiakos 2-0 on the strength of goals from Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson. It wasn't quite the occasion we'd expect in a testimonial--Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler made appearances, but it was otherwise just another preseason friendly--but proved a wonderful event for the captain and another chance for the squad to sharpen up, a task which they mostly completed on the day. A terrific celebration for one of the club's best ever, and a step closer to the start of the Premier League season two weeks from today.
A few of the key points, and then back to bed:
- Gerrard didn't manage to get on the scoresheet, but two of his midfield partners did--Joe Allen poked in an Iago Aspas cross/shot after the Welshman had wasted an insane flick from Aspas a minute or so earlier, and Henderson scored on his first touch of the match with a deft left-footed finish on the break. The plan was clear from the outset with the midfield, with Gerrard and Allen (and subsequently Henderson) getting forward at nearly every opportunity. Lost count of how many times Allen ended up in a goalscoring position, and Henderson was clearly tasked with doing the same.
- Their ability to do this was made possible by Lucas' continued form; he's looking fit and strong, much more so than at this point last preseason. Entering the summer fully fit has allowed him to hit the ground running, and he made a number of tackles and interceptions today that indicated he's well on his way. Reading the game well, passing sharply, and showing little signs of any lingering mental hangups from his injury.
- Philippe Coutinho didn't really get involved until the start of the second half, when he moved centrally and took the match over. Prior to that point it was all about Aspas in attack, as he tricked and turned and did everything but score in the opening half. The aforementioned flick that Allen wasted was sublime, but it wasn't the only bit of skill on display. He's got it all to prove when the season starts in earnest, though he's doing plenty of convincing for some already.
- Thought Raheem Sterling was sharp again, and Glen Johnson was much better. Jose Enrique still confounds any time he's in possession, looking completely lost once he has time to think. The rest of the back line were mostly solid, although Kolo Toure struggled a bit with Konstantinos Mitroglou (but to be fair, that guy is a giant). Worrying to see Daniel Agger go down just before the final whistle, which hopefully proves to just be a slight bruise after knocking knees with Vladimir Weiss.
- Fun to see Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler--who might have scored had it not been for a deflection off a defender--and Luis Suarez had an okay time of it after he was received very well by the supporters in attendance. No time for Jordon Ibe or Fabio Borini, which probably means far more about the latter than it does the former. Borini's chances to work his way into the eleven to start the season might have come and gone, now likely left to hope for time off the bench.
In the end, another nice preseason result, but ultimately a day that all about Steven Gerrard.