A convincing display against Gomel to see us through to the next round (qualifying) where we face Hearts which will give the headline writers an easy time!
I don’t think Gomel pulled up any trees however as the cliché goes you can play against what’s in front of you and we were good value for our win. Perhaps more encouragingly, even allowing for the fact Gomel were well into their domestic season, it was improvement on the rather lacklustre effort we produced in the first leg.
Borini’s goal, our opener, was well taken an arrow like volley after Suarez had got round the back of Gomel’s defence and had his effort poorly cleared. Steven Gerrard, after cleverly avoiding the off side trap, put the tie beyond doubt, and scored his 150th goal for Liverpool, by knocking in Suarez’s square pass from around six yards out after the Uruguayan had bustled his way into the danger area. Glen Johnson wrapped things up with a long range effort after Suarez’s cross to Borini had been cleared.
Against Bayer Leverkusen three days later is was more of the same a convincing win this time against opposition who would have certainly given us a harder time in a competitive meeting. The opening was perfect with Raheem Sterling’s superb goal. Having received Enrique’s pass there seemed to be no stopping him as he cut in from the right to curl in from range. It was a goal that would have graced the highest of occasions.
The second was clearly the result of something we’d been working on at the training ground. Schwaab upended Suarez but, rather than blasting the resulting free kick, Downing simply knocked the ball past he wall to find Suarez on the edge of the area. Unfortunately Suarez fluffed his shot however it squirmed out to Lucas who tapped it home. Andy Carroll wrapped things up with a long range effort after a nifty turn that found the net after Leno, in the Bayer goal had fumbled. Castro’s well taken goal gave Reina no chance however it was too little too late for the Germans
You don’t need to be particularly astute to notice that Luis Suarez was involved in all of our goals against Gomel. I was worried that Suarez might be burnt out given his Olympic exploits and then playing in Copa America last summer – this amounts to almost two years of (virtually) non stop football?. However, the opposite could also be true (for now) in the sense that he is match fit and on Thursday particularly it showed. Beside the goals he was also unlucky not to score himself with at least two efforts that perhaps, with a cooler head, he should have done better with? Nonetheless he was the man of the match by a distance against Gomel linking up well with Gerrard, taking the initiative and being positive every time he received the ball.
Elsewhere it was great to see the return of Lucas which, if nothing else, may well give Gerrard and freer reign to rove into move offensive positions. As for Borini looks as if he will start on the left supporting Suarez with Gerrard behind, an exciting combination with Sterling hopefully, having seen what he can do at the next level, an interesting side appetizer!
In a summer of transfer inertia Brendan Rogers’ will take heart from both games. Fabio Borini, his only addition so far, got his first goal for the club. Joe Allen also watched from the stands suggesting that his move to us was a formality and sure enough he put pen to paper the next day. Said Rogers
“This boy, when you see him play, you would think he was a European player. I would have paid millions for this kid. He is a unique player in that he is a British player who doesn’t give the ball away. You will see when he comes into this team the difference he can make… I think he will fit in really well with all the other clever players we have at the club.”
The phrase I would have paid millions for this kid jumps out. We did fifteen of them! Overpriced or a snip? Time will tell however, perhaps we are bit sensitive in this area after the signings of Henderson and Downing, I’ve certainly more confidence in Allen being a success than either Henderson or Downing. Significantly those players who are rumoured to be leaving (Agger and Carroll) received excellent receptions the crowd wanting to say farewell or “don’t go”?
Either way because of relatively lateness of his signings Rogers’, despite these two wins, still faces a tough task to hit the ground running particularly as the fixture list hasn’t been too kind, we face Manchester City, Arsenal and The Mancs in three of our first games. Nonetheless one can’t really ask for more than the start we’ve had and we have to play these teams sometime so bring it on!