Standard Chartered Trophy: Liverpool down Crystal Palace 2-0 to secure first pre-season win

Goals from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah seal comfortable victory for the Reds against a Palace side missing a host of senior players

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Singapore, 16 July 2022 - A sea of red engulfed the National Stadium well before the slated kick-off timing at 8.35pm local time.


But instead of cheering on the Singapore national team, the majority of fans were present with banners, flags, and scarfs aloft on Friday night to watch their beloved English football club Liverpool live in Singapore for the first time since 2009.


As the players exited the tunnel to the fans’ view, Liverpool supporters broke out in unison to a passionate rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, belting out a version emotionally-moving enough to give all 50,217 spectators instant goosebumps; creating an Anfield-like atmosphere.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


The Reds did not disappoint their ardent followers, comfortably defeating fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace by a 2-0 scoreline, using all 32 squad players in the process. Even though Palace were missing key players such as Wilfried Zaha, Marc Guehi and Christian Benteke, the London-based club gave their best effort in what must have felt to them an away match.


The Standard Chartered Trophy also marked the first-time since the pandemic began spectators were allowed to fill up to almost full capacity at the Singapore Sports Hub for any event.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Victory for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s men was marred by a first-half injury to midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Klopp confirmed in the post-match conference that it was simply a precaution. First-choice goalkeeper Alisson was also absent from the matchday squad as he picked up a minor abdominal injury at the beginning of yesterday’s session. The Brazilian is in contention to start their next pre-season fixture away to RB Leipzig on 22 July.


Klopp decided to name a significantly stronger lineup in comparison to the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in Bangkok midweek. James Milner filled in at right-back, Ibrahim Konate partnered Joel Matip in central defence, and Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones headlined the midfield ahead of captain Jordan Henderson. South-American attacking duo Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino were also named in the starting eleven.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Crystal Palace set-up to match Liverpool’s shape, with forwards Jordan Ayew and Odsonne Edouard used as wingers, while young midfielders Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Killian Phillips operated as interiors ahead of lone defensive midfielder Luka Milivojevic. Joel Ward, usually a right-back by trade, partnered Joachim Anderson in central defence in the absence of James Tomkins and Marc Guehi.


First Half Lineups


Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian, Milner, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas, Jones, Henderson, Elliot, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Diaz


Palace (4-3-3): Guaita, Clyne, Ward, Andersen, Mitchell, Rak-Sakyi, Milivojevic, Phillips, Ayew, Mateta, Eduoard

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


In yesterday’s pre-match conference, Klopp began by commenting on the extreme humidity of Singapore’s weather; which possibly explained the slow-paced start to the pre-season friendly.


The first opportunity of the game fell to Palace’s Odsonne Eduoard in the ninth minute, whose header from Luka Milivojevic’s freekick was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Roared on by a raucous crowd, Liverpool wasted no time to break the deadlock just three minutes later. A perfectly-timed cut back by Harvey Elliot, whom Klopp described as being like a ‘new signing’, was swept first-time into the corner of the net by onrushing captain Jordan Henderson.


The stadium erupted. Liverpool supporters were sent into delirium as they celebrated simultaneously, making their presence felt with rhythmic singing.


Even Palace captain Milivojevic lost his composure momentarily, giving the ball away with a stray pass trying to play out of the back, before committing a poorly-timed foul on James Milner in quick succession.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Liverpool could have doubled their lead when Kostas Tsimikas was allowed to burst down the left flank on a counter-attack. The Greek fullback’s lofted cross towards the far post was met by Roberto Firmino, whose close-range header was blocked for a corner.


Just before the half hour mark, the crowd started a traditional ‘Kallang Wave’ – formed by spectators raising their arms in succession – causing the grounds of the stadium to tremble periodically.


Before the half-time break, a neat move from Liverpool saw Oxlade-Chamberlain thread a through ball towards Harvey Elliot’s path, but the young English talent only managed to fire wide of the post.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Moments later, it was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s turn to receive a pass into space but lashed a shot straight into Guaita’s palms before going down injured.


Second Half Lineups


Liverpool (4-3-3): Davies, Alexander-Arnold, van den Berg, van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Keita, Thiago, Salah, Nunez, Carvalho


Palace (4-3-3): Guaita, Clyne, Ward, Andersen, Mitchell, Rak-Sakyi, Milivojevic, Phillips, Ayew, Mateta, Eduoard

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Liverpool began the half with a fresh eleven, including defender Virgil van Dijk, talisman Mohamed Salah and new signing Darwin Nunez. The midfield comprised Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita, whilst first-choice fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson also entered the fray. Palace remained unchanged.


Buoyed by fresh legs, the Reds started the second period with increased vigour and intensity. It did not take long for them to get their second goal.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Picking up the ball from the right flank from Alexander-Arnold’s crisp pass, Salah struck a sweet left-footed strike that crept in off Guaita’s left post, courtesy of a fortunate deflection.


Klopp’s men did not take their foot off the gas, as Nunez almost opened his account for the Merseyside club with a powerful effort straight at Palace custodian Vincente Guaita.


The Uruguayan striker, signed from Portuguese-side Benfica for a club-record 85 million pounds, looked particularly hungry to make an impact – starting pressing movements with laborious intensity and making sharp dropping actions to get involved in play.


PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Palace manager Patrick Vieira took till the hour mark to ring in the changes, after forward Jordan Ayew had a half-chance blocked by Andy Robertson in what was the Eagles’ best chance of the half. Vieira brought on a host of youngsters, including new signing Malcolm Ebiowei.


Controlling the pace of the game with measured passing and calculated forward runs, it took till the 69th minute for Liverpool to threaten again. Midfielder Fabio Carvalho picked up the ball and drove towards goal, but his powerful curling effort from the left half-space was saved by Guaita’s palms.


1.93m-tall defender Virgil van Dijk had the opportunity to display his heading prowess to an eager crowd from the resulting corner, but his effort was calmly collected by Guaita.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


With slightly more than ten minutes to play, Klopp rang in the changes once again with an almost brand-new eleven of youngsters, with the exception of Carvalho and Salah.


Young midfielder Tyler Morton capitalising on a rare appearance thought he had made it three in stoppage time, but his driven effort from outside the penalty box rolled past the wrong side of the post; the last key action of the match.


Klopp said after the game: “We played a good game against United, but we lost 4-0 because we made mistakes in the wrong moments. We were much more compact today. It was a clear step in the right direction.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


From mid-September onwards (when the season begins) we won’t have time to train which is why it is so important for us to work a lot in the next four weeks to be best prepared.”


Palace manager Patrick Vieira acknowledged the high calibre of his adversaries but was pleased with the overall progress his team made despite the defeat.


“We have to look at the quality of the Liverpool squad and admit it is not possible for us to have possession as much as we want.


We struggled to get the ball into the box. This is a team fighting to win the Champions League for the last five to six years and we knew how challenging today was going to be.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


This game allowed us to make a step forward as we are getting better physically, but technically we still have things to work on,” he said.


Speaking about rumours of Chelsea centre-back Levi Colwill’s potential transfer to the club, Vieira remained tight-lipped.


“We have to find players to take us to a different level. We have to be careful with all the rumours but there are a lot of names coming out. We need to identify the position where we need players and try to get those players,” he added.


According to mythical beliefs, the Liver Bird had to be chained down to avoid flooding the city of Liverpool by bursting the banks of the River Mersey. There was however no stopping all Liverpool fans streaming out of the National Stadium, as they flooded the vicinity of Kallang with a sea of red and persistent fan chants.


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