Liverpool: Henderson 12′, Salah 47′
The build-up is once again raucous, as the players themselves continue with their surprise on the crowd numbers out to see them (crowds are massive for training, let alone the pre-season matches themselves).
The line-up to start is full of first-team players, with most of the youthful promise seen last time out on the bench. Unlike Manchester United, Palace has a weaker side: reflective of their own place in pre-season and their squad fitness levels (although they have played one pre-season game more than Liverpool have).
Filled with chances for Liverpool, though unlike last time out the Reds decided to score a goal instead of heading for the crossbar challenge and the crossbar challenge only.
Kostas Tsimikas showed really good attacking decision-making early, holding off on a cross to deliver a late one to Bobby Firmino on the back post — should have been a goal, probably.
Liverpool did score, however: Jordan Henderson’s goal came from a textbook pullback from Harvey Elliott, a move Liverpool have leaned into over the past season.
James Milner having a laugh and a chat with Patrick Vieira was a bit of fun — nice to be reminded that the two played each other twenty years ago. Minutes later a smooth Milner-Oxlade-Chamberlain-Harvey Elliott move very easily could have been a second goal; it is pre-season, though.
All was bright and then Oxlade-Chamberlain went down, clearly frustrated; Leighton Clarkson came on to replace him. Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Reds will hope it’s nothing too serious given his uncertain status.
The Reds continued looking promising in attack through to the end of the half, with a notable move through Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones, and the half ended with Kostas Tsimikas running in behind. All in all a positive effort.
The second half line-up was also quite strong: Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Davies (on in goal likely due to Caoimhín Kelleher’s minor injury). As the players get themselves ready, it’s hard not to be excited to see the likes of Mohamed Salah, Thiago, Darwin Núñez, and Fábio Carvalho together.
And it began exactly as we would have wanted: a lot of precise, close passes in their final third, and Salah finally managed a clever (though trademark) goal (slightly deflected) after dancing into some space in the box.
As the game re-started, the stadium announcers were still listing the second half changes; Virgil Van Dijk’s name got almost as loud a roar as the goal did.
Vicente Guaita had previously been a bit shaky in goal for Palace, but unfortunately for Carvalho the keeper managed a strong save on a promising shot, keeping the new attacker from getting on the scoresheet in red.
Third XI came on as planned with an influx of youth, and the close of the game was smooth sailing.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Still a bit of rust but this was a lot more fun to watch — we got a lot of hints (including looking at a formation based around two ball-playing 8s) of what the season could be like (hint: Liverpool are very good) .
The full 90 was smooth and composed, lacking in the errors that characterized the previous match.