Liverpool swept aside Napoli 5-0 to thrill their passionate Irish fans in Dublin.
The Reds – who gave a debut to £65m goalkeeper Alisson – were in irresistible form in the opening stages in the Irish capital , and scored twice in the opening 10 minutes through James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, with Milner’s goal coming from an attack started by Alisson and Wijnaldum’s via a Milner cross.
Mo Salah made it 3-0 with an emphatic finish early in the second half – from another move started by Alisson – and subs Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno put the seal on a five-star display late on, the latter with a stunning strike.
Here are the game’s talking points.
1. Wijnaldum goes deep and delivers
Scarcely seen this pre-season, it was interesting to witness Wijnaldum used as the deeper of the three in midfield in first half in Dublin, with Milner and Naby Keita playing either side of him.
It was a position he was used in as injuries took their toll at the back end of last season, and he responded with an assured performance and a goal – a carbon copy of the one he headed past Alisson in the Champions League semi-finals in May.
Adding these extra strings to his bow is going to be crucial for the Dutchman as the battle for midfield places hots up.
2. Gomez takes centre stage
A week out from the season opener against West Ham, Joe Gomez looks to have cemented his place as Virgil van Dijk’s centre-back partner.
Ragnar Klavan’s untimely hamstring injury and the latest in the series entitled ‘Joel Matip’s problems’ have placed the young Englishman in the box seat, and he seems likely to face the Hammers now.
3. Alisson lets his feet do the talking
The Brazilian was always going to be the major talking point of this game, but it was his feet not his hands that caught the eye.
In the opening stages he looked incredibly confident on the ball when it was at his feet in his penalty area, and he was pinging out passes left, right and centre, most notably to Salah in the run up to Milner’s goal.
It was certainly an eye-catching introduction.
For more on Alisson’s debut, click here
4. Liverpool’s three musketeers are still their stars
For all the talk of Alisson and the club’s other new signings, there was a reminder here about just who Liverpool’s real stars are.
Teamed up together for the first time this pre-season, Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino carried on from where they left off in 2017/18, and if anything they’ve been given an added dimension by the presence of Keita behind them.
Their combination play was again superb, and with Napoli making the mistake of playing a high line early on, it was baffling how one of the trio didn’t score in the first 45 minutes, with Salah making up for it just after the break.
5. Milner refuses to let up, until he has to
It took a pretty nasty blow to the head to force Milner off the pitch early in the second half, and he probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere if that hadn’t have happened.
Klopp will have to hope that the injury isn’t too severe ahead of next week, as right now the midfielder is one of the first names on his teamsheet – a far cry from a year ago when no-one thought he could get a game in midfield any more following his stint at left-back.
He again looks to be a vital member of the squad, capping this determined display with a goal and an assist – both in the first 10 minutes.
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