Saturday, August 10, 2013

Celtic 1-0 Liverpool: First-half Balde strike downs Reds in Dublin

The recent recruit from Portugal scored the only goal of the game to give the Bhoys a memorable victory despite a dominant performance from their Premier League opponents

Liverpool failed to extend its unbeaten preseason record as it concluded preparations for the new season with a narrow 1-0 defeat to an understrength Celtic side at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Brendan Rodgers' side had won all six of its friendly fixtures but slumped to a disappointing defeat thanks to Amido Balde's first-half goal.

The Scottish champions were forced to defend for large periods but showed great determination and resilience to hold onto their early lead.

The tone for the afternoon was set even before a ball was kicked as both sets of supporters joined together for a hair-raising rendition of

"You'll Never Walk Alone" which reverberated around all four corners of Lansdowne Road as the players emerged from the dressing rooms.

In the continued absence of wantaway striker Luis Suarez, recent summer recruit Iago Aspas was another opportunity to impress but it was Celtic which started livelier and hit the front on 12 minutes.

Stewart Downing's attempt to win the possession back only diverted the ball towards Balde, who needed no second invitation to turn inside Andre Wisdom and slot past the advancing Simon Mignolet.

The England international was determined to make amends and nearly found an instant equalizer after Joe Allen's fine solo run but his goal-bound shot was blocked by the impressive Mikael Lustig.

Moments later, Lukasz Zaluska was called into action for the first time as Downing cut in from the right before unleashing a fierce left-footed effort but the Celtic 'keeper was equal to the task, pushing the ball around the post.

A couple of changes in personnel by both sides at the break did little to alter the flow of the game as Daniel Sturridge looked to make an instant impact after being sprung from the bench. Downing and Johnson linked up down the right once again to create an opening for the striker but his curling effort went narrowly wide.

The five time European Cup winners eventually had the ball in the back of the net but their celebrations were cut short as Kolo Toure was flagged offside after heading home Gerrard's set-piece.

As the game wore on, Celtic began to drop deeper and deeper but continued to defend resolutely and with great organization to nullify the threat of its opponent. In the end, the Bhoys did enough to emerge with a 1-0 win.