Liverpool are pegged back inside the final ten minutes as they draw their opening Europa League game 1-1 away to FC Bordeaux…
As expected Brendan Rodgers made a host of changes to the side that had lost badly to rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.
With the likes of Christian Benteke, James Milner and Martin Skrtel left on Merseyside, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure, Alberto Moreno, Jordan Rossiter and Divock Origi all received their first starts of the season.
Rodgers also opted to move away from the 4-3-3 formation predominantly utilised this season and revert back to the 3-5-2 which served him well for a large chunk of last season.
The visitors started well as Philippe Coutinho fired narrowly wide with a low left-footed effort inside five minutes.
Jordan Ibe and Emre Can also had some bright moments early on but a quick counter-attack by Bordeaux almost delivered the opening goal when Diego Rolan dinked a shot onto the roof of the net.
With Toure struggling through an injury sustained in a collision with Simon Mignolet, the hosts again went agonisingly close in the 19th minute through Wahbi Khazri.
By this stage the French side had taken charge of the contest and were winning the majority of the 50/50 challenges as well as bossing possession.
18-year-old Spanish midfielder Pedro Chirivella was introduced for the ailing Toure midway through the half; an alteration that meant Can dropping into the defence.
Mignolet had to be alert to keep out a deflected free-kick shortly afterwards as Liverpool continued to struggle to rediscover their early rhythm and attacking impetus.
The Belgium international also denied Khazri as the half drew to a close when the Bordeaux midfielder was allowed to run at Liverpool’s defence completely unchecked.
Coutinho did crack a fine effort against the post in injury time but overall it had been another underwhelming performance by Rodgers’ men.
The initial exchanges of the second half were positive and full of endeavour but there was little in the way of clear cut chances for either side.
Adam Lallana created a brief sight of goal for himself with a lovely turn but his strike was straight at home goalie Cédric Carrasso.
Bordeaux were carrying less of a threat than they had done in the first 45 minutes but they did hit the side netting through a Henri Saivet header as the hour mark approached.
Willy Sagnol’s team should have been in front moments later when Nicolas Maurice-Belay was thwarted by Mignolet after a poor Joe Gomez header, the ball subsequently ricocheting fractionally wide of an unguarded net.
Liverpool finally broke the deadlock via a sublime solo strike for Lallana; the England international weaving his way into the box and nonchalantly slotting the ball into the far corner.
Origi, who had struggled and was thankful to an offside call after badly fluffing an opportunity during the first half, was replaced by Danny Ings with just over 15 minutes remaining.
The former Burnley man was instantly involved with an excellent piece of skill but he couldn’t find a finish to match as Carrasso saved low down to his left.
Understandably Liverpool began to drop deeper in the latter stages and they were undone by an impressive finish by substitute Jussie when the defence failed to dispossess the lively Enzo Crivelli or clear the danger sufficiently.
Both sides looked for a winner in the final few minutes, and had shots on target, but neither could find a second goal.
Honours even and that was probably about right on the balance of play. The performance was far from brilliant but it was certainly a step in the right direction after the difficulties of recent weeks. Taking a more long-term view on proceedings there were certainly positives to be garnered from the fixture with two players making their senior debuts and a host of squad players and youngsters getting some valuable game time. Remarkably, after Chirivella replaced Toure, the average age of the team dropped to 21.7 with three 18-year-olds, a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 21-year-old all on the pitch at the same time. With regards to our aspirations in the Europa League, this was a solid if unspectacular start.
Mamadou Sakho – Captain for the night, Sakho led from the front with a powerful, all-action display which belied the fact he hadn’t previously seen a single minute of action this season. Has to start against Norwich City on Sunday.
Mignolet, Gomez, Toure (Chirivella 28′), Skrtel (c), Rossiter (Brannagan 80′), Can, Lallana, Ibe, Moreno, Coutinho, Origi (Ings 73′).
Unused subs: Bogdan, Cleary, Randall, Firmino.
So that’s what we thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your verdict below…
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