Liverpool hold off Melbourne Victory 2-0

Connor Pain dribbles past Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson - Vince Caligiuri

95,446 packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Liverpool's first visit to Australia. The Reds won 2-0 thanks to Steven Gerrard and Iago Aspas goals.

A shorthanded Melbourne Victory side gave Liverpool a good run overnight at the Melbourne Cricket Ground before falling 2-0 in front of 95,446 mostly red-clad fans. Steven Gerrard opened scoring in the 31st minute but the game was not decided until Iago Aspas scored in the second minute of injury time.

Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Liverpool were the big story on the night, drawing the capacity crowd at Australia's oldest and largest stadium. The Victory were without Socceroo call-ups Mitch Nichols, Mark Milligan and Archie Thompson as well as Adama Traoré and Guy Finkler who are recovering from injuries, not to mention recently released Marcos Flores and young Marco Rojas, who is now at Stuttgart.

More Liverpool: Liverpool Offside

The A-League side played well, particularly in the first half-hour as 20-year-old Andrew Nabbout nearly opened scoring, forcing a good Brad Jones save. Yet it was Gerrard who stole the show, answering a wave of Victory pressure by smashing a one-touch shot past Nathan Coe in the 31st minute to the delight of the Reds' fans. Gerrard almost added a second five minutes later after Coe knocked the ball directly into his path at short range. The subsequent shot passed just over the bar.

Early in the second half, the so-called home side resorted to quick counters, one of which forced another Jones save in the 50th minute after a nice combination from Billy Celeski, Jimmy Jeggo and Connor Pain. The Victory continued to pressure Liverpool until the hour when Pain's shot tested Jones yet again. While, the 19-year-old gave Liverpool problems throughout the Victory could never quite get everything right, either losing out through a Jones save or good defending.

Gerrard was replaced in the 63rd minute by Lucas Leiva before Brendan Rodgers switched all ten of his other players in a 72nd minute line-change. That included Suarez, who had not played since biting Branislav Ivanović last last season. Though he had less than twenty minutes on the pitch, Suarez received a huge ovation and quickly made an impact on the surprisingly close game. Suarez ultimately settled the match deep into injury-time, taking a short corner and darting past two Victory defenders before laying off for Aspas, who easily recorded the Reds' second.

Despite the loss and the overwhelmingly partisan crowd in Liverpool's favor, the Victory will feel encouraged at this stage of the pre-season, especially with so many key players absent and with the fantastic play of youngsters like Pain and Nabbout.

Scoring:

LFC Gerrard (Allen) 31'

LFC Aspas (Suarez) 90'+2

Lineups:

Melbourne Victory: Coe; Galloway, Ansell, Leijer, Geria; Broxham, Celeski, Jeggo, Nabbout (Stella 82'); Pain, Makarounas

Unused:

Liverpool: Jones (Mignolet 72'); Enrique (Robinson 72'), Skrtel (Coates 72'), Widsom (Agger 72'), Johnson (Kelly 72'); Henderson (Spearing 72'), Allen (Downing 72'), Gerrard (Lucas 63') ; Ibe (Aspas 72'), Borini (Suarez 72'), Sterling (Alberto 72')

Unused: Assaidi, Robinson

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