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Olympiacos 0, Liverpool 1: Early Sterling Goal Holds Up for Narrow Win

Liverpool get a narrow win over Olympiakos in their Champions Cup on the strength of an early Raheem Sterling goal and a number of solid individual displays.

David Banks

Olympiacos 0
Liverpool 1: Sterling 5'

The announcement of Dejan Lovren's signing took some of the sheen off what was easily the most exciting starting eleven of Liverpool's preseason--Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling joined Lazar Markovic across the front in attack, with Emre Can and Jordan Henderson partnering in advanced midfield positions ahead of Steven Gerrard. The back line wasn't quite as enticing but still had plenty of experience, as Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure, and Jose Enrique lined up ahead of Brad Jones in goal.

It was an energetic start, and one that saw Liverpool take the lead within five minutes. Gerrard came onto a clumsy touch and immediately passed into Sturridge, who took a touch before firing a shot--and slipping in the process--toward goal. A lucky bounce saw Sterling end up one-on-one in front of goal, however, and he made no mistake with his first touch to give Liverpool the lead.

There wasn't much of note for the next half hour or so, with Markovic getting a few chances to stretch his legs and some smart pressing that led to a half-chance or two. A quick break from Henderson, Markovic, and Sterling showed the pace in the eleven, and a neat bit of skill from the young Serbian led to a curling shot pushed high and wide. Olympiakos probed from time to time but failed to put much of anything together, with their most notable moment in attack coming when Javier Saviola was booked for diving. In a preseason match.

Can, Markovic, and Enrique came off at the break in favor of Joe Allen, Philippe Coutinho, and Jack Robinson, and they very nearly witnessed an Olympiakos equalizer five minutes in were it not for the intervention of the crossbar. Further changes came for Liverpool on the hour, with Sebastian Coates, Lucas, and Martin Kelly finding their way on and Toure, Gerrard, and Glen Johnson off. Appearances for Rickie Lambert and Jordon Ibe came as well, and Liverpool were able to hold on despite a few close calls--including one in the third minute of stoppage time--to earn the 1-0 win.

Fun, if not entirely well played, match, and great to see Lazar Markovic lively and active in making his Liverpool debut. Emre Can was excellent again, Raheem Sterling got his goal and showed flashes of form, and defensively things were solid more often than not. Special mention to Coates, who continues his renaissance (or at least couple good showings before getting loaned again) at the back, and Jack Robinson was decent as well. Interesting to see extended run-outs for those recently back from England duty, though Jordan Henderson is probably the last person to be worried about when it comes to fitness.

Expect to see more of the same on Wednesday in New York, with Dejan Lovren potentially with the squad by then and another chance for things to continue to come together before the season starts for real.

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