Liverpool sinks Milan to cap Bay Area summer of soccer
Liverpool took home a deserved victory against AC Milan in Saturday night’s International Champions Cup friendly at Levi’s Stadium, thoroughly outplaying I Rossoneri in a 2-0 result.
After a dreadfully uneventful first half of action, 2014 World Cup Belgian starlet Divock Origi finally unlocked the scoreline for Liverpool with a 59th minute curling finish. He worked around Milan defender Gabriel Paletta in the 59th minute, running down the left side of the box before his finesse shot accurately around Milan keeper Gabriel.
Roberto Firmino grabbed Liverpool the all-important insurance goal in the 73rd minute. Sheyi Ojo’s took the ball wide and had his cross deflected right in the path of a sliding Firmino. Firmino slid all the way into a celebratory pose as his shot slotted near post past Gabriel.
Liverpool Head coach Jurgen Klopp indicated that the no decision had been made on loaning out the young winger Ojo:
“We have to see. He’s a wonderful player, that’s for sure and his future is 100% at Liverpool. In the near future we will make that decision but I don’t think we have to make it so early. We have time.”
The two Liverpool strikes concluded the scoring for the match, as Milan didn’t manage a single shot on target.
The first half was a bore, with Milan’s offense looking especially dormant. The Italian giants mustered only two off-target shots in the first 45, both lazy ground shots that at best might have deflected towards goal.
Liverpool was a bit more active on offense, with attack-minded Giorgio Wijnaldum, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane getting themselves in dangerous positions in the box. Each and every chance, Milan’s defense was able to close down brilliantly.
Milan’s defense surrendered the first goal, but on the whole played an effective game in the back. Liverpool spent considerably more time in the attacking half, maintaining a healthy 60 percent of game possession. Were it not for some very opportune tackles and deflections, Liverpool might have put more tallies on the scoreline.
The best chance of the first 45 minutes came in the 41st when Liverpool playmaker Coutinho slotted a pass into recent signing Sadio Mane running down the right side of the box. Mane’s low shot maybe should have found the back of the net, but Milan keeper Gabriel got a leg out for a clutch kick save.
After the Origi goal came in the 59th, Liverpool kept pressure on. 10 minutes later in the 69th minute, left back Alberto Moreno served up a tasteful cross on for Origi again. The ball landed beyond the defense and inches from Origi’s feet but Paletta put him off just enough to see the ball out of play.
Moments later in the 72nd minute, off the Liverpool bench, Firmino grabbed his goal and the game looked all but concluded. The rest of game stood largely still until the 87th minute, when a loose ball in the box landed at Firmino’s feet. The Brazilian attempted to double his tally for the day, but Gabriel saved the scoreline from going to 3-0.
Klopp reserved praise for individuals and gave credit to the team. He told reporters in a post-game press conference:
“Especially tonight it’s not a night name to single players. If you want to talk, then it’s the way we played, the style of play, the dominance we had passing. The first half we played brilliant and then we did the right thing, we passed and passed, we passed all the time until we were through.”
Liverpool bagged the win in front of just 31,ooo fans at Levi’s stadium in what will surely be thought of nothing more than a friendly match and warmup for the upcoming Premier League season.
English midfielder James Milner said the team was working towards getting to top form:
“The games are ticking down now until the end of the preseason and like I said, when we get to that first game, we need to be in top form.”
“The teams are really strong so that’s always a challenge for us, but we have to respect in the first case our training in this moment.”
As the last scheduled soccer game of the summer at Levi’s Stadium, and with Copa America and MLS All-Stars concluded, the match signaled a somewhat symbolic end to the summer of soccer in the Bay Area.