Saturday, August 3, 2013

Liverpool 2-0 Olympiakos: Suarez cheered on Anfield return as Reds claim victory in Gerrard testimonial

Goals from midfield duo Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson secured Brendan Rodgers' side's fifth win in as many games as the Reds continued their buildup to the new season

Liverpool celebrated the career of Steven Gerrard with a routine 2-0 win over Olympiakos in the England captain's testimonial at Anfield.

Goals from midfielders Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson made it five wins from five for Brendan Rodgers' side during

preseason as a full house saw the home side dominate the almost entire 90 minutes

Gerrard apart, the loudest cheer of the day was reserved for wantaway striker Luis Suarez, whose future continues to be unresolved despite his wishes to leave the club.

Rodgers again left Suarez on the substitutes bench, with the striker suspended for the opening weeks of the Premier League season, and gave Iago Aspas another chance to stake a claim for a starting berth against Stoke on the opening day of the season.

The summer signing from Celta Vigo has shown good form during preseason, and he should have given the hosts the lead inside five minutes after Allen latched onto a loose pass from Andreas Samaris before playing the striker in. His shot, though, was straight at Balazs Megveri.

Allen and Aspas were at the heart of much of Liverpool's attacking play, and the pair combined again midway through the first half when the striker's intelligent flick was volleyed over by the former Swansea man.

He made amends seconds later, though, as a mix-up in the Olympiakos defense allowed Lucas to find Aspas on the left, and the forward's center was perfectly timed for Allen to turn in at the back post.

More chances came and went the Anfield outfit as Aspas was again denied by Megveri before Allen headed a Gerrard cross wide while the Greek champions failed to test Simon Mignolet during the opening 45 minutes of his home debut.

The pattern of Liverpool dominance continued after the break as Phillippe Coutinho fired straight at Megveri while Raheem Sterling went close with a lobbed effort that fell just wide of the post.

Suarez was introduced for the final 30 minutes to loud cheers, but it was fellow replacement Henderson who doubled the advantage as he slotted home with his first touch after Sterling's through ball.

Suarez was busy and drew a number of fouls in his short cameo, though he failed to trouble the goalkeeper in what could be his final appearance for Liverpool at their famous home.

Jose Enrique did test Megveri with a powerful strike before Robbie Fowler, who along with Jamie Carragher returned for the special occasion, almost sent the Kop wild with a sliding effort that was deflected over the bar.

Riberio Machado finally gave Mignolet some work to do with a low effort from distance before the whole crowd stood to applaud Gerrard as he was substituted five minutes from time.