Liverpool 2: Gerrard 31', Aspas 90'+3'
Another step in a direction that'll hopefully prove to be positive, as Liverpool again make tough work of it but come through with the win. Most will be focused on Luis Suarez and what is or isn't happening, but he was a footnote in a match that wasn't one of the more memorable. Still a few points worth picking out, mostly from the first half, so let's run through them so I can head back to bed.
- Those first twenty minutes were not really worth anyone being awake for regardless of what time zone you're in. Liverpool had plenty of possession and retained in well in the middle third, but any time they went forward it was fruitless and sloppy. Thankfully the MCG's rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone carried the sentiment through to the point at which something actually happened. Brilliant atmosphere.
- Joe Allen was about as good as we've seen in a long time--passed the ball well, picked his spots to get forward, and looked miles different than the player who struggled so badly over the season's middle stretch. He carried forward well for the opener, latching onto Steven Gerrard's dummy and eventually slicing a low cross centrally for the captain to slot home.
- Of the rest in the first half, Martin Skrtel, Andre Wisdom, and Jordon Ibe each stood out. Skrtel and Wisdom were commanding in their third appearance as a partnership in central defense, with neither putting a foot wrong for the first forty-five. Ibe continues to dazzle from the wide areas, outdoing his counterpart in Raheem Sterling and creating a number of chances that unfortunately went begging.
- Less impressive were Fabio Borini, Jordan Henderson, and the fullback duo of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique. Borini and Henderson struggled to fill the creative void left by Philippe Coutinho's absence, and Johnson and Enrique were either rusty or just bad at both ends of the pitch. All improved over the course of the second half, but none of the four were convincing.
- Very little of note took place until the 70 minute mark, when Rodgers brought on a brand-new eleven save for Lucas, who'd come on earlier to replace Steven Gerrard. That included Luis Suarez, who did some stuff that everyone tried to read into, but more importantly, we saw Daniel Agger take the armband from Lucas, who briefly deputized as captain in Gerrard's absence. Think we've seen the decisive moment in the vice-captain debate, folks.
- Nice bit of skill from Suarez to create the final goal in injury time, which Iago Aspas punched home from close range. Everyone will talk about what the Uruguayan did or didn't do, or just make a bad joke about it, but everything's annoying now and everyone should stop. Most of all Luis Suarez.
Another great showing from Liverpool supporters in a faraway land, as the atmosphere and occasion once again outdid the performance. The club will now wrap up their tour in Thailand before heading back to England, where they'll have only a few short weeks before the Premier League season kicks off.
Video of Gerrard's goal below
Video by MostarLFC