RB Salzburg 2 - 2 Liverpool
Rb Salzburg: Daka 3’, 13’
Liverpool: Brewster 72’, 81’
In contrast to the torrential downpour at the weekend, it’s a beautiful day in Salzburg, and there’s even a contingent of fans in the stadium, although their visual absence on the broadcast makes for a slightly eerie atmosphere.
Even more worrying, however, is Liverpool’s lack of concentration in the opening stanza. Salzburg are a live by press, die by the press kind of team, and come out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, while the visitors appear ponderous, and within three minutes the Bulls have the lead, as Patson Daka pounces on a rusty Fabinho to tuck it past Alisson.
Huge pressure from Salzburg early but Reds break through Wijnaldum who finds salah but passing effort blocked for corner
Ten minutes later, the hosts make it two, as Joe Gomez gives the ball away with an ambityious pass, and, in an attempt to make up for it — or perhaps as an ode to the departed Dejan Lovren — charges out from his line, getting bypassed easily. Mergim Berisha waltzes into the vacated space and picks out Daka, who nets his second.
The home side continue to look for early passes in behind, but are caught offside on half a dozen occasions in the first half, although at least one of those calls would no doubt have been reverse by VAR. Alisson makes an outstanding save nonetheless.
The game settles into a less frantic pace after the 20-minute mark and the Reds begin to find their feet. Andrew Robertson springs Sadio Mané down the left-hand channel and the Senegalese attacker is brought down just outside the area by the last man. In any competitive game, that would’ve earned a red card, but here, Jérôme Onguéné escapes with a caution. Fabinho blasts the set piece high over the bar.
Towatds the end of the half, Liverpool create and waste a pair of chance. First, Roberto Firmino fires wide from a narrow angle after being chipped in Mané following some solid pressing in midfield, then Mané manages to hit an effort straight at the defender on the line from three yards out after Mohamed Salah picks him out with the cutback. Best to get those out of your system before the season begins in earnest.
Three changes at the half, as Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, and Fabinho are replaced by Takumi Minamino, Curtis Jones and James Milner. Georginio Wijnaldum moves to the six.
Just as in the first half, the hosts come out aggressively, congesting the central areas and punishing the Reds for any sort of dallying on the ball. They ride the 15- minute storm without conceding, but not without having to do some heroic defending, as both Gomez and van Dijk are forced into a number of decisive blocks and challenges.
A nice piece of play sees Minamino drop into midfield and finding Mané who has drifted into the half space, who in turn picks out Salah, but the Egyptian’s right footed effort is comfortably blocked by Carlos in the Salzburg goal.
At the other end, Vallci heads inches wide following a smart set piece taking advantage of the Reds’ pushing out of their box on corners, before a long ball from Alisson finds Salah in the Red Bull box, but again, the Egyptian is unable to cut in front of his man and get a shot off.
Virgil van Dijk is forced off after suffering a cut on the subsequent corner, and Nat Philips replaces him. A substitution bonanza then takes place on the hour mark, as Alisson, Williams, Gomez, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Salah and Mané leave the pitch to be replaced by Adrián, Hoever, Koumetio, Tsimikas, Grujic, Elliott and Brewster.
Unsurprisingly, Brewster takes his pre-season tally to two after ten minutes, capitalising on Liverpool’s best piece of play in the entire game. Milner and Minamino combine and the Englishman drives into the area to pick out the youngster, who batters the ball into the roof of the net.
Ten minutes later, the 20-year old does it again, this time pouncing on a loose ball after Curtis Jones has produced an outstanding bit of pressing in the opposition area. As the ball spins and bounces its way to Brewster, the young Londoner simply chips it into the top corner with his first touch from 20-odd yards.
There is some high-intensity, back-and-forth action towards the end as both sides attempt to find a winner on tiring legs, but Harvey Elliott can’t quite sort out his feet after Marko Grujic breaks forward and feeds him on the edge of the box, and the shot dribbles harmlessly wide of the far post.
The training volume of the past weeks was clearly on evidence here, as the Reds looked visibly diminished physically, and were prone to slow reactions and poor touches throughout. Fighting back from two goals down while continuing to gather match fitness and producing tape to which he can point and say “Don’t do this!” won’t bother Jürgen Klopp much, though, and the Reds look as prepared for the new season as they can be considering the odd schedule they’ve been on since March.
Rhian Brewster: You could tell me he only had three touches all game and I’d have little choice but to believe you, but what does it matter when they all end up in the back of the net. Having scored 10 of his 11 goals last season with two touches or less, the youngster looks set to be part of the first team this year, and it will be interesting to see how he is integrated into the XI, as it seems clear he plays as a pure nine when on the pitch, as opposed to Firmino and Minamino.
Billy Koumetio: The 6’5 defender impressed again today, having captured the imagination of many fans at the weekend, displaying composure, athleticism and passing quality that belies his young age. It is unlikely he will have much of a role to play in the upcoming season, but it is nonetheless heartening to see that there is young defensive talent coming up at the club.
Liverpool will start their competitive season at the weekend, as they take on Arsenal in the Community Shield. on Saturday.