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Liverpool 3, Darmstadt 1: Liverpool Wrap Up Pre-Season with Win

In another helter-skelter performance the Reds ran out deserved winners.

Liverpool FC v SV Darmstadt 98 - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool 3: Salah 5’, Jota 8’, Díaz 59’
Darmstadt 1: Honsak 10’

With no defensive midfielder acquired, and the Premier League less than a week away, Liverpool started the final match of their pre-season with Alexis Mac Allister as their deepest lying midfielder, alongside the inverted Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Cody Gakpo and Dominik Szoboszlai — who started last season as wide forwards for their respective clubs — ahead of them. Up top, Mohamed Salah and Luis Díaz and flanked Diogo Jota, while the backline was a font of familiar faced, with Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté manning the middle and Andrew Robertson at left full-back.

The game was chaos immediately, and the Reds nearly took the lead less than five minutes in, as Salah pounced on a loose pass and played in Jota, but the Portuguese attacker struck his finish well wide of the near post.

No, matter as Salah would notch the first of the night just a minute later. A Szoboszlai corner was flicked on by Luis Díaz before finding its way into Mo’s feet via an improvised touch from Virgil van Dijk. The Egyptian made no mistake from close range and tucked home with ease.

Three minutes later, the lead was doubled, as some careless passing out from the back saw Darmstadt punished, with Mo picking a defender’s pocket and cutting the ball back to Jota, who made no mistake this time, finding the far corner with a composed effort.

While the replays were rolling, however, the visitors pulled one back, as a short pass to a wide midfielder coming inside was turned into a first-time hoof over the backline, where Mathias Honsak had timed his run well. Konaté got back fairly well, but the Austrian attacker picked his spot and beat an onrushing Alisson from 18 or so yards out.

The game settled down somewhat after the frenetic opening, and Darmstadt went close to equalising in the 18th minute when Liverpool failed to deal with a corner, but the strike from 12 yards out whizzed past the far post.

Things picked back up somewhat halfway through the frame, as Luis Díaz blasted over from a one on one situation — alebit one that would have been ruled out for offside — before Szoboszlai tested the keeper from 20 yards out. Minutes later, an outstanding tackle from Alexis high up the pitch sprang a counter, but Gakpo could not capitalise on Díaz’s flick, and his shot from just outside the box was parried away.

The dutchman went close again ten minutes from time as the ball fell to him with the keeper outside his own area having dealt with a Díaz break, but the curling effort from an angled 35 yards could only find the side netting.

The final action of the half came when Alexis once again displayed great vision and picked out Díaz with a reverse pass, but the Colombian’s effort was sliced well wide of the far post.

The Reds made no subs at the half, while Darmstadt made four, but there was little to write home about in the opening spell of the second period.

Ten minutes in, a scramble ensued in the Liverpool area as a cleared corner was pumped back into the box for what looked certain to be a goal, but hustle and tenacity from the Reds defenders and some outrageous scrambling from Alisson denied the visitors from evening the score.

On the hour mark, the Reds pulled away once more, as another Szoboszlai corner found Díaz streaking across the near post, but this time, instead of the headed flick, the Colombian produced a quasi-backheel that clattered off the crossbar and into the back of the net.

Six subs were made immediately after, as Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, Kostas Tsimikas, Harvey Elliott, Ben Doak and Darwin Núñez replaced van Dijk, Konaté, Robertson, Szoboszlai, Salah and Jota.

Darwin nearly scored with his first touch as he slung himself into action after Díaz had produced a magic little flick in the box and fluffed his finish, but the Uruguayan was denied by Marcel Schuhen.

The Reds had found a bit of energy after the goal and the subs, and Elliott nearly sent them further ahead with a driven effort from range having picked his way forward, but the ball snuck inches past the far post.

Ben Doak had terrorised fullbacks on either side with his first two involvements, turning them inside out but not finding a final ball, and he nearly did it all on his own in the 71st minute, as he beat his man twice and streaked in on goal, but failed to gather his feet at the final moment and saw his effort scuffed and denied.

15 minutes from time, Díaz skinned his marker and tried to find Darwin three yards out, but some brave defending cleared the ball as far as Doak, whose effort from close range was blocked for a corner.

Four more subs were made, with Jarell Quansah, James McConnell, Calum Scanlon and Curtis Jones replacing Alexander-Arnold, Mac Allister, Gakpo and Díaz, and as the match grew increasingly disjointed from the immense number of substitutions, the Reds had a final bite at the cherry. Darwin beat his marker at the near post off a corner and saw his point blank header parried away, before Joe Gomez(!) was denied by a defender’s headed clearance off the line.

That’s all she wrote on this pre-season, and Liverpool will hope to have learned something along the way — perhaps even how to sign a defensive midfielder — before they head to London to kick of their 2023/24 campaign against Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea on Sunday.

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