Liverpool 4: Núñez 30’, Clark 35’, Jota 38’, Doak 64’
In front of a half-capacity crowd in Singapore National Stadium, Liverpool played their third pre-season match of the year, notching their second win and third four-goal performance, as they methodically dismantled recently relegated Leicester City.
The Reds started in what is inching ever closer to a line-up that looks like it might be replicated on the opening day of the season, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konaté, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson manning the defence, Curtis Jones, Alexis Mac Allister and young outlier Bobby Clark in midfield, and Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Darwin Núñez up top.
The match started off slow, with each team finding their feet, until a flurry of chances around the ten-minute mark set things in motion. Leicester first went close as Ndid raced through on goal, but Caoimin Kelleher did well to come off his line and smother the shot.
A minute later Darwin had the ball in the back of the net, showing great composure to flick the onrushing keeper and tap home from close range, but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside. Immediately after that, the Foxes bypassed Liverpool’s aggressive base press, setting up a flat cross into a dangerous area, but Virgil van Dijk was on hand to clear the ball ahead of Patson Daka.
The nominal visitors did well to evade the Reds’ press, but ran out of steam around the 25-minute mark, and Liverpool gradually began to assert control. A successful bit of pressing set up Darwin 20 yards out, but rather than go for the shot, he attempted to set up Salah coming in off the flank, and the chance trickled out into nothing.
Five minutes later the Uruguayan was on hand to dispatch, however, as a low Diogo Jota shot from a difficult angle was poorly parried by the keeper, and Darwin could tuck home his fourth goal in 135 minutes this pre-season.
The crowd got to see a vintage Robbo moment minutes later as a gorgeous swerving cross from Trent found the Scot at the back post, who promptly hammered it wildly off the mark. Bobby Clark did better, however, he tucked home from 14 yards after a sweeping move set Salah free down the right, and the Egyptian found the 18-year old with a simple pass after drawing a defender onto him.
The Reds went up by three less than five minutes later, Salah again the provider, as he cut inside and delivered an in-swinger onto the top of an onrushing Jota’s head, the Portuguese once again displaying timing and technical excellence, burying the ball beyond the keeper’s reach into the far corner.
Alexis nearly set up a fourth just before the half-time whistle, winning the ball all the way inside Leicester’s penalty area, but Jota was unable to convert from close range.
The Reds made ten substitutions at the half, inverting their fullback invertion, as Kostas Tsimikas came into midfield from the left and Joe Gomez played a more conservative quasi-fullback role on the right. Meanwhile, Joël Matip and Jarell Quansah filled in at centre-back, Harvey Elliott, James McConnell and Dominik Szoboszlai made up the midfield, and Luis Díaz, Cody Gakpo and Ben Doak formed a front three.
Where the first half started out slowly, the second was the opposite, and the Reds could have scored twice in the first minute. Elliott and Gakpo carved their way through the Leicester midfield, but Ben Doak’s cross didn’t find its mark, and the defender’s clearance was hooked over the bar by Elliott.
On the subsequent goal kick, Elliott headed the ball directly into Gakpo, but the ball wouldn’t sit up right for the Dutchman, and his half-volley was blocked for a corner.
Ten minutes into the half, Szoboszlai had seen enough and began running the press, sniffing out ball carriers dallying and cutting out passing lanes. The Hungarian won the ball and fed Gakpo, who found Diaz, but again, the effort was blocked for a corner.
15 minutes into the second half, Leicester made their first foray in the opposition half, only to have their pocket picked by Szoboszlai. The Hungarian unleashed an audacious dink from the halfway line, but just barely underhit it, and the keeper, who was miles off his line, managed to hustle back and head the ball clear from the edge of his own box.
The Reds did get their fourth in the 64th minute, though, as a Szoboszlai corner was flicked on by Matip at the near post, and Ben Doak could convert into an open net having found space further back in the box.
Minutes later, Gakpo worked himself into space about 20 yards out, but his driven effort was tipped wide of the post by the keeper. At the other end, leicester had their first chance of the half, but a tremendous sliding block from Jarell Quansah denied Patson Daka after Wilfried Ndidi had cut the ball back.
Luis Díaz had a headed goal chalked off for an offside on Joe Gomez in the lead-up 15 minutes from time, and as substitutions made the game choppy and the heat began to take its toll, the match ebbed out without much further incident.
The Reds have scored 12 goals in three games and are looking increasingly coherent both in possession and counter-press, while their base press and settled defending appears to require some work still. They will have all those bases tested on Wednesday, as they take on Bayern Munich in their second and last game of the Singapore tour.