Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Liverpool 3 Athletic Bilbao 1: Young forwards fire Reds to Dublin victory

SoccerNews in La Liga 5 Aug 2017

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Second-half goals from Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke fired Liverpool to a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in Dublin as the Reds signed off their pre-season programme on a pleasing note.

With Inaki Williams having cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s early penalty, Woodburn sent Liverpool back in front just short of the hour mark before new signing Solanke rounded off the victory.

Those goals will be especially satisfying for the two young forwards as they bid to force their way into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team plans this season.

The result sends Liverpool into their opening Premier League fixture at Watford next Saturday on the back of a victory, having suffered their only defeat of pre-season last time out – on penalties to Atletico Madrid in the Audi Cup final.

Divock Origi failed to reward Liverpool’s bright start with a goal when he poked wide after being played through by Firmino, and the Belgian had no more luck when Mohamed Salah sent in an inviting cross from the left, heading past the right-hand upright on that occasion.

Despite Origi’s wayward opening, Liverpool were dominating possession and eventually took the lead when Firmino buried a penalty in the bottom-left corner after being bundled over in the box by Inigo Lekue in the 21st minute.

A rare Athletic foray into the Liverpool half ended with Ager Aketxe firing wide from a Williams pass, but the latter had the Liga side level on the half-hour mark.

Dejan Lovren’s attempt at intercepting a throughball fell kindly for Williams, who kept his composure to direct a shot beyond Simon Mignolet from the centre of the penalty area.

Kepa Arrizabalaga got down well to keep out an Alberto Moreno effort after the full-back cut inside and attempted to beat the goalkeeper with the outside of his left boot, before Trent Alexander-Arnold prevented Inigo Cordoba from causing Mignolet any problems at the other end with a block on the stroke of half-time.

Klopp made 10 changes for the second half, but it was the one player who remained – Mignolet – who was first called into any meaningful action after the restart, getting in the way of a fierce Cordoba strike.

Sadio Mane then drew an excellent save from Arrizabalaga, before Woodburn – who will hope a two-month injury lay-off for Adam Lallana increases his chances of first-team action – fired in Liverpool’s second from a Solanke cutback to the edge of the box.

And Solanke added the third 10 minutes from time when he headed a Ragnar Klavan cross from deep back across Arrizabalaga and into the net.

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