Liverpool 3 - 1 Lyon
Liverpool: Firmino 17’, Andersen 21’ (OG), Wilson 53’
Lyon: Depay 4’ (pen)
You don’t generally consider preseason matches “must win” but it really feels like this squad needs something resembling “momentum” with Manchester City on the horizon. The good news? Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita, and Xherdan Shaqiri all make their returns, and all go straight into the starting line up. The bad news? A Joe Gomez-Dejan Lovren centerback pairing does not include Virgil van Dijk.
Welcome back, Alisson? The best goalkeeper in the world makes a hash of an easy cross under no pressure, spilling it, tripping over it, and then fouling the Lyon attacker, giving up a pen and earning a yellow card.
Goal Lyon - Memphis Depay steps up, sends Alisson the wrong way, and slots the penalty. Well, that wasn’t the start we all wanted.
After the goal, Lyon seem content to sit back, absorb pressure, and try to hit Liverpool on the break with long balls over the top. They’ve nearly gotten through a couple of times, but Degsy and Gomez have done just enough to prevent a second.
GOAL LIVERPOOL - ...give the ball to Bobby, he will score. The returning Brazilian makes up for the other returning Brazilian. Shaqiri’s attempted cross is cut out, but it falls kindly to Firmino, who takes a touch, turns, and fires a low, left-footed shot into the far corner. Welcome back, Bobby!
GOAL LIVERPOOL - Well, you won’t see a better finish than that. Unfortunately for the Joachim Andersen, it was a fantastic finish for an own goal. Ki-Jana Hoever sends in a cross toward no one in particular, but Andersen can’t quite sort his feet and sends it into the top corner, easily beating his own keeper.
Firmino and Shaqiri make way on thirty minutes, for Rhian Brewster and James Milner. Bobby and Shaq looked pretty sharp for their first action of the preseason, including (sort of) combining for the first goal.
Wilson, who I didn’t even realize was playing up to this point, has a pretty good crack from outside the box, but it’s straight at the keeper, who makes a relatively straight-forward save.
Just before the end of the half, Brewster does his best Firmino impression, holding it up near midfield, before threading a pass through to a streaking Mo Salah. Salah, who has looked dangerous right up until the final touch all half, was once again dangerous right up until the final touch.
Salah, Keita, and Hoever all make way to start the second half, so for the moment there’s a lot of kids on the pitch.
GOAL LIVERPOOL - Now I feel a little bad about taking a dig at Harry Wilson earlier. I mean, he’s still been largely invisible tonight, but he just banged in one of his patented long-distance crackers. So credit where credit is due.
Lyon haven’t threatened much since early in the first half, but the young defender Sepp van den Berg was just caught flat-footed (aided by a generous linesman), but Lyon couldn’t take advantage of the one on one.
On sixty minutes, Klopp makes wholesale changes. Basically all the olds except newboy Harvey Elliot. And there’s a noticeable difference almost immediately between the senior Reds who have been training for a couple of weeks, and the ones we saw in the first half. This is well better, and that’s encouraging. Hey! We haven’t forgotten how to play football in two months!
Wow, Hendo will want that one back. Van Dijk started the move from the back, picking out Trent Alexander-Arnold with a long switch. TAA drives to the byline and cuts it back for the captain who is in acres of space in the box, and he fires his first time shot just wide. Moments later Trent steps up to a free kick and nearly curls one in. He’s looking ready for the season. Meanwhile, former Monaco man Fabinho is being kicked every single time he has the ball. Good stuff.
Baffling Alisson error aside, it was just about a perfect end to the less-than-stellar preseason. Ironically, the best performance of the night came in the last half an hour by the completely changed eleven, when the score was already settled. Regardless, Klopp will take a lot of positives from tonight: Bobby, Mo, Shaq, and Naby all got much needed playing time. Lyon hardly threatened after the first 15 minutes or so. And a win is always nice (and especially welcomed after a string of disappointing results). Anyway, on to Manchester City for the Community Shield, and then football begins for real for real against Norwich City a week from Friday.