Brendan Rodgers had anticipated that HJK Helsinki would provide the biggest challenge of the preseason for Liverpool, and while the Finnish champions didn't pose much of a threat going forward, they were plenty difficult to break down. It was a familiar sight at times, with much of the action taking place on the periphery of the Helsinki penalty area, and any chances created ultimately gone missing.
There was plenty of frustration at Liverpool's inability to find the net, but the introduction of Divock Origi--who had experienced his fair share of frustration during a up-and-down preseason tour--proved decisive for Rodgers, whose tactical changes had seen the visitors well on top. Origi's goal in the 72nd minute held up as the winner, and for the 20-year-old it was the culmination of the work he's put in to familiarize himself with his new teammates:
"I think we played well and I'm always happy to score. As a striker, it was very difficult to play this team. But, tactically, the coach found the solutions and in the end we won 2-0, so it's nice. I think I've started well and I've had to adapt to the rhythm, because in England the rhythm is very high. I was happy to score and I'm confident for the rest of the season.
"The most important thing was to adapt to the rhythm and the players - I've had to give 200 per cent in every training session but I'm learning every day and now it's paying off. With the new guys coming in, we have a very strong squad. Everybody is sharp and we're ready for Stoke. We're ready for a very good season, the mentality is very good, we're very tight as a group and now we have to show it on the field."
It will be down to Origi and Ings to fight for the third spot on the depth chart once Daniel Sturridge is fit, and at the present time it seems that the former Burnley man has the advantage. After a difficult evening in Finland, however, Origi could have closed the gap, and his well-taken strike--created by the ever-dangerous Jordon Ibe on the right and flicked on by James Milner--will only help his confidence.
That had sagged at times during preseason, but getting the winner yesterday against stubborn opposition will hopefully provide a boost ahead of a season that should see him get plenty of chances, especially before Sturridge's return to full fitness.