Fresh off their successful A-League championship, Sydney FC have faced off in a action filled friendly match against the star-studded English Premier League side Liverpool FC at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, with Liverpool winning the game by three goals to nil.
Liverpool arrived in Sydney on early Wednesday morning, just a few days after their successful bid to return to the European Champions League after a long absence, but were without just two of their stars, Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can.
However, in a blast from the past that delighted the Sydney-based Liverpool faithful, former captain and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was in the squad, along with other notable greats, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, and Steve McManaman.
For the first two minutes, Sydney FC hadn’t managed to touch the ball, and Gerrard missed an absolute sitter of a volley from 10 yards out that left the former captain fuming.
In the sixth minute, the class of the Premier League side showed, with Daniel Sturridge capping off a superb solo move in the box, with a clinical finish that rolled outside the grasp of the Sydney keeper.
Throughout the early going, Sydney FC struggled to gain possession, and had their attacks shut down by the solid Reds defence, with Gerrard often reverting back into a withdrawn defensive midfielder position to thwart the hurried and desperate Sky Blues attacks.
In the 15th minute Liverpool was on the attack again but were unlucky not to convert after confusion in the box, and a poor cross saw the movement stopped in its tracks.
The goals continued to flow, however, and in the 17th minute, Firmino played a clever chip pass into the oncoming Alberto Moreno who slotted it home without blinking an eye.
The greats showed flashes of their long-ago brilliance, with dynamo Gerrard tirelessly patrolling the midfield in the first half, much to the delight of the 72,800 people in attendance who cheered his every touch of the ball.
— ANZ Stadium (@ANZStadium) May 24, 2017
The first half was filled with action, as the local Australian side valiantly tried to hold their own against a Liverpool side who thoroughly outmatched them on the team sheet and the pitch, and tried to make up for the gulf in talent with a gritty, physical style of play.
In the 33rd minute, Sydney FC star David Carney had a cracking shot at goal blocked after a half-hearted clearance by Carragher, but the Sky Blues were unable to get anything going after the resulting corner.
A 38th minute moment of brilliance, yet luck, saw Sturridge once again carve up the Sydney FC defense, before crossing the ball into a waiting Firmino, who got a lucky deflection off his thigh that bamboozled the Sky Blues keeper and launched the ball into the goal.
Just before the stroke of halftime, Gerrard was denied what seemed to be an obvious penalty, as he was shoved in the back by a Sydney FC defender, after receiving a quality ball on the run from Sturridge.
The second half began with Gerrard and Carragher coming off, but in their place one of the greatest wingers Liverpool has ever seen, Steve McManaman took the field, bringing the heavily-favoring Liverpool crowd to their feet; along with Adam Lallana and Daniel Agger.
The initial phases of the first half went much in the same as the first, as the visiting side dominated possession and kept the struggling Sydney side playing off the ball and chasing their own shadows.
Not much changed as the game progressed, with most of the action taking place in the middle third of the pitch, as both sides reverted to a slower, more cautioned tempo, with not much to excite the crowd, with the score remaining at three goals to nil.
At the post-match press conference, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told Xinhua that he was happy with the performance of the Liverpool legends and didn’t really need to coach them at all.
“Who needs managing, who needs coaching? Maybe on the plane? We had a five-minute meeting,” Klopp said.
“They all know all about football. Honestly, it was not too bad.”
One of the fabled Liverpool legends, Steve McManaman also spoke to Xinhua after the match and said he was proud to wear the Reds jersey again.
“It was very nice, it was great to be out there with the guys again, the fans were amazing, and it was a lovely atmosphere,” McManaman said.