Preston 0-4 Liverpool
Liverpool started their pre-season with a trip to Preston to contest the Shankly Shield in commemoration of the great man who served both clubs and who was born 100 years ago this year.
Debutant Apas scored on his debut for Liverpool as the Reds eased to a comfortable 4-0 win at Deepdale. Philippe Coutinho started the scoring after converting a penalty before Jordan Ibe scored his first senior goal for the Reds, Raheem Sterling netted the other Liverpool goal.
Brendan Rodgers tried to give as many players some match practice in Liverpool’s first pre-season match for the new season. New signings Luis Alberto, Simon Mignolet , Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas all featured for the Reds. Daniel Agger was installed as captain for the day with Steven Gerrard not featuring and with Jamie Carragher’s retirement from football.
Daniel Agger was the first player to test the Preston keeper Rudd, with a stinging 30 yard effort Rudd could only parry, before the Preston defence quickly cleared to clear the danger.
Liverpool dominated possession in the early stages and their constant pressure paid dividends when Coutinho robbed Preston’s John Welsh of possession on the edge of his own area before pulling the Brazilian to the ground resulting in a penalty. Coutinho casually converted the spot-kick into the corner sending Rudd the wrong way in the process.
A period of possession football from Liverpool came after the goal with neither keeper having much to do until Liverpool stepped up the tempo with Flanagan bursting into the Preston half after intercepting a Preston pass before sending Borini clear, but the Italian lacked composure and slipped his effort wide of the post with only Rudd to beat.
A minute later young Jordan Ibe proved to be more ruthless when he skipped inside from the left flank before rifling an unstoppable low effort past Rudd at his near post. The goal capped a fine first half performance from the youngster as he tormented the Preston right-back.
The second half brought wholesale changes to both sides, with Aspas and Alberto pulling on the Red shirt for the first time.
Sterling replaced Ibe on the left flank to mark his comeback after a long-term injury. The winger looked keen to impress as he burst down the left flank before forcing his way into the Preston box before curling a stike towards the far corner, but replacement Preston keeper Stuckmann managed to divert the ball away to safety.
Sterling’s enthusiasm was rewarded with 25 minutes remaining when a rapid exchange of passes on the half-way line sliced open the Preston defence and sent Sterling one-on-one with the keeper. Sterling showed great composure to round Stuckmann before sliding the ball into the empty net.
A fine Liverpool performance was capped by debutant Aspas curling a 25 yard effort past Stuckmann in a pleasing day for Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool impressed against Preston in their first pre-season match at Deepdale. I liked the way the players showed hunger to press the opposition and look for the ball. OK Preston are not the greatest of teams but it was a decent workout and was a good fixture for debutants Alberto, Mignolet, Toure and Aspas to settle into the Liverpool team. The players that impressed for me were Jordan Ibe who looked a threat down the left flank and scored a great goal which will do his confidence no harm. Coutinho just looks better with every game and pulled the strings against inferior opposition, took his penalty clinically. Stewart Downing looked lively when he came on for the second half and Raheem Sterling was very impressive as he looked to go past the Preston full-back at every opportunity, a great goal by Sterling too as he showed great confidence in his cool finish. Debutant Aspas showed some clever touches and looks a tricky player as he created Sterling’s goal before scoring a fine goal himself. I think the best moment of the day for me was the introduction of Martin Kelly with 10 minutes to go as he made his comeback from long-term injury, he has been so unlucky with injuries in recent years and his return is like a new signing for Liverpool. Overall it was a good workout for Brendan Rodgers’ side and I’m sure the manager will be happy with his team’s performance.