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A win for football as Liverpool turn on the charm

They came, they saw and they conquered Melbourne hearts as Liverpool provided a spectacle with their 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

Suarez set the 'G alight on Wednesday night. Photo: Jim Webster

Suarez set the ‘G alight on Wednesday night. Photo: Jim Webster

A record breaking 95,446 crowd at the MCG watched on as goals from Steven Gerrard and new signing Iago Aspas decided an intriguing contest.

While the match ended in Liverpool’s favour, it would have been no stretch of the imagination to say that Victory gave as good as they got, and never really looked outmatched at any point during the game.

A rousing welcome was afforded the glamorous visitors, as the capacity crowd kicked off proceedings with one of the most famous club anthems of all – Liverpool’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Pre-game predictions of a one-sided result were quickly tossed out of the window as the home team attacked from the kick off.

Victory were missing veterans Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan among a host of others, but it appeared to matter little as youngsters Connor Pain and Andrew Nabbout rose to the occasion.

Pain provided an early warning of his abilities as he burnt Glen Johnson on the left flank, bursting past the England full back and getting to the by line before cutting a dangerous ball back into the box.

The Liverpool bodies were looking larger and stronger though as they seemed to have an upper hand in several physical clashes on the ball.

Steven Gerrard was getting a rousing cheer whenever he jogged up for Liverpool’s corner kicks, though the very first was straight into the grateful arms of Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

Liverpool’s pacey wingers were proving to be threats on their own too, as Raheem Stirling and Jordan Ibe made life difficult for the Victory pair of Jason Geria and Scott Galloway.

Crosses into the Victory box were coming thick and fast, though Adrian Leijer and co. were flinging themselves at every ball that came their way.

Nathan Coe was looking at his best too as a rare mistake by Leijer allowed Ibe a sight of goal, only for the offside flag to interrupt proceedings.


It was at this point that the hosts enjoyed an extended period of possession, but found the going tough against a disciplined Liverpool defence.

With plenty of red shirted bodies in the way, Victory were left pinging the ball aimlessly around the edge of the box, ultimately failing to find a way through.

When the opener did come, it was through a moment of pure footballing brilliance from the one and only Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool captain was striding through the middle in support of a quick break, but had the presence of mind to dummy a cross-field pass that came his way, allowing teammate Joe Allen to drive down the middle.

Gerrard had continued his run though, bursting into the box unmarked to arrive on the end of the return pass and slam home as Coe was left rooted to the spot.

The goal almost brought the roof down, as the vociferous away support started chanting ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ again.

Victory were definitely still in the thick of things, and Coe kept them in the game by tipping a Martin Skrtel header over the bar early in the second half.

Suarez taking off his track pants on the giant screen drew excited cheers, as Liverpool were awarded a succession of corners.

The game was flowing pretty well at this moment, with the crowd being treated to some end-to-end action on the pitch – Fabian Borini juggling the ball before unleashing a shot straight down Coe’s throat, before Pain went up the other end and drew a leaping save from Brad Jones.

Borini Bycicle. Photo: Jim Webster

Borini Bycicle. Photo: Jim Webster

Borini was definitely looking livelier than in the first half with a bicycle kick that just drifted off target before it was time for the crowd to salute goalscorer Gerrard as he was replaced by Lucas Leiva.

There was still no sign of Suarez coming on yet though, and the crowd took matters into their own hands with a ‘We want Suarez’ chant.

Brendan Rodgers appeared to have heard them and proceeded to send on ten substitutes at once as every starting player was replaced, including local Australian Brad Jones as new number 1 Simon Mignolet donned the gloves.

Iasgo Aspas was tucking in behind Suarez, and looked to be striking up a decent partnership with the wantaway striker.

The Uruguayan looked well short of match fitness and less than thrilled to be finally involved in the game, but still managed to turn the tide with some fancy footwork.

A sublime backheel sent Stewart Downing scampering into the box before both the winger’s shot and Aspas’ follow up were blocked by scrambling Victory defenders.

It felt like there was at least one goal left in the contest and it duly arrived in injury time as Suarez danced his way into the Victory box via the by line.

A defender charged forward to challenge, but was not quick enough as Suarez stabbed a low pass across the face of goal and onto Aspas’ left foot to double Liverpool’s lead.

The celebrations were muted though, with the striker’s teammates far more delighted than a grumpy looking Suarez as the ball was retrieved from the net.

As the final whistle blew and the crowd rose to salute their heroes on both sides one last time, there was no doubting the winner on the night.

Liverpool had won the contest and the hearts of many in Melbourne, and Victory had given a good account of themselves and the A-League, but it was football that had won out in the end as fans lapped up the atmosphere at this most unforgettable of occasions.

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