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Manchester United 1, Liverpool 4: The Power Cube Bikes the Bus

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Shaqiri debuts, the Reds run riot, and we’re having fun.

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United 1 - Liverpool 4

United: Andreas Pereira 31’
Liverpool: Mané 28’, Sturridge 66’, Ojo 74’, Shaqiri 82’

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Michigan, Liverpool breezed to a 4-1 win over their rivals Manchester United. This caps off the Reds’ tour stateside, with a 2-0-1 record in the International Champions Cup. Jürgen Klopp and the team will head back to Liverpool before they take off to France next week to continue their preseason training.

Liverpool started the game as they intended to go, getting on the ball early and often, setting their sights on goal. Between a great save from Lee Grant and a van Dijk header that went just wide of the net, Liverpool could’ve been up 2-0 inside the 10 minute mark. The first half lineup saw both Sadio Mané and Mo Salah start on the flanks, with Dominic Solanke through the middle. If Mané and Salah had any sort of rust coming into the preseason, it seems they’ve gotten rid of it quickly. At times they were both toying with United’s backline, as if they were playing in pickup game.

Liverpool’s first goal came after Mo Salah won a penalty. United’s young defender Demetri Mitchell lost track of a ball overhead and decided whacking Salah with his leg was the best defensive tactic. Sadio, after scoring a penalty on Wednesday night against City, stepped up and calming slotted it into the far corner.

For the rest of the first half, it appeared that there would be a contest on our hands. United got in behind a few times, but neither Alexis Sanchez or Juan Mata could find the back of the net. In the 31st minute, Andreas Pereira stroked a beautiful free kick into the top corner, leaving Kamil Grabara standing still on his line. Would’ve been a tough one for even the most experienced goalkeepers.

Rafa Camacho had a rather impressive first half, again. He was consistently involved with the build up when Liverpool were on the front foot. He consistently made smart overlapping and underlapping runs to open up options for Salah.

As one would assume, the second half started off rather dull, possibly due to the heat or the general nature of preseason. At one point, the crowd broke out into the Mexican Wave, which I’m pretty sure is the international sign of boredom. At times it seemed like the squad was instructed to stay calm, even playing a pseudo-back three with Milner playing as the deepest player.

The boredom wouldn’t last the entire half, though. Daniel Sturridge would put Liverpool ahead 2-1 in the 66th minute, after having just come onto the pitch. Most of the work on the goal came from debutant Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri was able to control a ball that came in over the top while fending off Eric Bailly and then was able to lay it off to Sturridge at the top of the area, who would then slot it home. More on those two in a bit.

Liverpool’s third goal would come from a dodgy penalty won by Andy Robertson. Surprisingly, Sheyi Ojo stepped up to the spot to calmly put it home.

And then this happened.

Go ahead. Watch it again. And then again. And then 800 more times. It’s okay, we all did the same.

It’s preseason, and all that, but to score a goal like that on your debut against United...wow. That right there is worth the transfer fee alone.

Okay, back to reality for a bit. On that goal and on Sturridge’s goal, I think you’re starting to see what Shaqiri can bring in terms of quality. Jürgen Klopp and Michael Edwards were set out this summer with the impossible task of finding adequate coverage for Bobby Firmino, Mané, and Salah. Barring anything else happening this window (Fekir? Pulisic?), Sturridge and Shaqiri are the options off the bench. And if both of them play like they did today, the drop off will be well mitigated. Please, for the love of Fowler, stay healthy Danny.

In a match where United never really got going, the Reds were able to take advantage of playing in front of 105,000 fans and look like the Liverpool we’ve come to love. Even if it was the 3rd preseason game in 6 days, Liverpool were a joy to watch. And at it’s most basic levels, that’s what we watch football for: to experience joy. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to expect a lot of joy in our near future.

Up The Power Cube™ Bicycle Kick Reds.