Tranmere 0 - 6 Liverpool
Liverpool Clyne 6’, Brewster 38’, 45’, Jones 53’, Origi 60’, Duncan 67’
While the axiom of a pre-season match is roughly the opposite of a competitive one — the result is not important — nobody is ever going to complain about a 6-0 drubbing. Thus, Jürgen Klopp will be beaming after the Reds’ pre-season opener, in which all 23 players involved put in a solid shift and came out the other end with an impressive scoreline.
It started off quickly at Prenton Park, with the players — a large contingent of youngsters with a sprinkling of experience — looking fresh after the summer holiday, knowing that they would only have to press and harry the opposition for 45 minutes.
The Reds took the lead with their first shot, as Joe Gomez went on a Matip-esque run through the middle before passing to Rhian Brewster, who picked out Nathaniel Clyne wide right. The full-back took a touch to steady himself before unleashing a thumping effort into the top corner, announcing his bid to challenge Trent Alexander-Arnold for the right-back position.
A mis-hit Gomez pass at the other end presented the hosts with an opportunity, but the centre-back did well to get himself into position to block the goalbound shot, and it would be a good long while before Tranmere would threaten again.
The visitors were relentless in their counter pressing, regaining the ball in the opponent’s half again and again, leading to a number of dangerous situations. 18-year old left-back Yasser Larouci was lively, and combined well with Adam Lallana to fashion himself a chance, but eschewing to finish with his weaker leg, the Algerian took an extra touch and blasted his shot straight at the keeper.
On twelve minutes, a quick break saw Harry Wilson set up Ryan Kent, but the winger was closed down before he could finish from a dangerous position. Five minutes later, Larouci was released again, this time from Kent, but the Tranmere goalkeeper was equal to the strike.
Ryan Kent remained a threat throughout the frame, and on the half hour mark James Milner took a quick free kick for the youngster to latch onto down the left flank. The 22-year old did well to create space for a shot, but the effort swerved over the goalkeeper’s far post. Another one-two minutes later set up Milner from 20 yards, but his shot was parried, and an offsides Brewster blasted the rebound high over the bar.
The Reds could not be denied forever, though, and after Brewster found Milner streaking down the left, and Wilson cut the veteran’s cross back into the box, the man who started the move headed home from six yards.
The live wire 19-year old would bag another before the break, again pouncing on a Milner rebound, but this time staying onside and burying the chance.
Liverpool changed all 11 players to start the second half, and there was no drop-off in intensity. Seven minutes into the frame, it was four, as Divock Origi held off a defender down the right-hand channel and played the ball back to Ben Woodburn. The Welshman took one touch before picking out Curtis Jones arriving at the back post with a gorgeous delivery, and the 18-year old tucked home from close range.
Ten minutes later, a long sequence of neat interplay saw the Tranmere goalkeeper paw away an Origi strike, before a defender was able to get down to block a Paul Glatzel effort. The hosts then launched a counter attack, George Johnston getting brushed away by Miller, but Vitezslav Jaros was equal to the striker’s attempt.
The Rovers had been struggling to keep up with their visitors’ quick short passing game, but the Reds went route one for the fifth, Joël Matip picking out the run of Origi and the striker bringing the ball down with a spectacularly velvety first touch before rounding the keeper and slotting home.
It would be six halfway through the second half, as Ki-Jana Hoever went on a surging run down the right flank before bursting into the box and cutting the ball back for Glatzel. The German turned and laid it off to his striker partner Bobby Duncan, who buried the ball in the bottom corner from close range.
With twenty minutes to go, the home crowd briefly got something to cheer for, as 18-year old Danny Walker-Rice slotted home at the near post, but the teenager’s goal was disallowed for offside.
Paul Glatzel was substituted with a knee problem with fifteen minutes to go, forcing Klopp to bring goalkeeper Daniel Atherton on as a striker, a job the 19-year old looked surprisingly competent at, but with the game well in hand, the tempo slowed down considerably towards the end, and no further goalmouth action ensued.
We’re off, then, and the 2019/20 pre-season has officially begun, Glatzel’s injury notwithstanding, about as well as one could have hoped for, with players both young and old looking fresh and fired up ahead of the new season.
The Reds now travel to Bradford on Sunday, before their US tour begins the following week.