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Tranmere Rovers 0, Liverpool 1: Ings on Target to Secure Reds Victory

Danny Ings made up for spurned chances to begin the pre-season with a win.

Cf. Jose Mourinho's reaction last year to selfie attempt
Cf. Jose Mourinho's reaction last year to selfie attempt
Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Tranmere Rovers 0
Liverpool 1 Ings 79'

Liverpool begin their pre-season with a win, adding gloss to an already good day in which the club have secured the services of their manager for the long-term and Mamadou Sakho was cleared of all charges by UEFA.

The starting lineup saw Klopp set out his preferred 4-2-3-1, with Smith, Lovren, Matip and Flanno making up the backline, Lucas and Branagan in a double pivot, and Kent, Ejaria and Mane supporting Firmino, the lone striker.

Mane was given license to to drift closer into the middle and he and Firmino showed an increasing ability over the course of the first half to link up well, exhibiting some nifty flicks and one-two passing. Ejaria impressed this author with his composure, ability on the ball, defensive reading of the game, and his ability to make the right decision in the offensive third, despite opting for a pass over a shot on a few occasions. Kent and Smith also showed why some are hopeful they will prove offensive support going forward if they manage to carve out a place in the squad, though on occasion they left left the defense too exposed by over committing. Even Flanno got in on the party a few times, once executing a nice Cruyff after being put through to the byline from a Mane pass.

On the defensive end, Lucas and Branagan played well. Matip almost gave up a glorious scoring opportunity with a wayward ball intercepted near the corner of the 18 only ten minutes into the game with one of his first touches. Thereafter, he settled down and demonstrated the composure most, if not all Reds expected. He and Lovren did otherwise well to snuff out any chances - with the aid of some Lucas track-backs - and aside from the typical set-piece KLAXON, when Tranmere flicked a near post header off the far post following a corner, Rovers never managed to induce fear in Karius or otherwise make him do anything but look like Derek Zoolander in goal.

The highlights of the first half, such as they were, included: Mane beating Tranmere's keeper to a ball then nearly curling it into goal with a banana from the byline; Matip rising high on a corner to put a decent effort on target from a corner; Mane playing Kent in, who should have scored but struck it at the keeper (who did come out and make himself large (TM), to be fair); the aforesaid interplay between Mane and Bobby; all things Ejaria (be still my beating heart); and Mane looking very dangerous as a general matter. Liverpool had at least one penalty shout for exactly what you think it was for, but they could not find an opener.

Second half saw a new eleven, because friendlies are the best, trotted out in the same formation or what may have evolved into a 4-3-3. Bogdan replaced Karius, the new back line was made up Randall, Wisdom, Ilori and Moreno; Stewart and Alexander-Arnold in the double pivot, Woodburn, Chirivella and Markovic supporting Ings.

The second half was at a noticeably slower pace than the first. Both teams struggled to create any chances of note until the 65th minute, when Lazar Markovic was presented with a near-sitter eight yards in front of the far post, which he skied. Three minutes later, Woodburn attempted a decent effort at the near post, but Davies had the near post covered. Not two minutes after that, Marko missed an open net after Danny Ings stung the keeper's hands and the rebound fell to the young Serbian. He could do no more than smack it against the outside of the near post.

Liverpool were growing into the game, and after Woodburn cut inside and took a curled shot that rebounded to Markovic, Ings nearly put in a fantastic scissor kick from Markovic's well-shaped cross. Alexander-Arnold, in particular, was demonstrating intent, and after picking up the ball just in front of midfield, he bypassed a defender and went on a driving run. Confronted with a wall off defenders at the eighteen, he dinked it nicely to Ings who was being held onside by the RB across the box. Ings, who was facing away from goal, took a lovely touched, turned, and leathered it past the keeper to score at the near post.

Flares were lit and a good time was had by all, as Liverpool rode out the match without being challenged, Sakho got some chants, and Conor Randall did his best AI impression, ruining the ankles of a Tranmere defender before placing a shot wide.

Still some rustiness, of course, but some promising signs already make it reasonable to be excited for Wednesday's game against Fleetwood Town (where perhaps there are some unheralded, blazing fast strikers to be scouted).

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