LIVERPOOL: Liverpool warmed up for the start of their Premier League campaign with a Philippe Coutinho-inspired 4-0 friendly win over Borussia Dortmund at Anfield yesterday.
Brendan Rodgers’s side dominated their final pre-season match with Brazilian playmaker Coutinho the most impressive performer as he scored one goal and had a hand in another.
Coutinho, who will be expected to carry much of Liverpool’s creative burden following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, was a constant menace throughout as Daniel Sturridge, Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson also got their names on the scoresheet against German club Dortmund.
Liverpool, looking to gone one better after finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League last season, handed debuts to new defensive signings Javier Manquillo and Lovren while Sturridge had shaken off a hamstring injury to start in attack.
Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp had only one of Germany’s quartet of World Cup-winning players at his disposal in the form of Kevin Grosskreutz, who remained on the bench.
Liverpool’s passing looked crisper than that of their Bundesliga counterparts in the early stages, and Coutinho created the first opening with a weighted ball for Raheem Sterling who saw his shot beaten away by Mitchell Langerak in the Dortmund goal.
Coutinho was instrumental in Liverpool’s opening goal in the 10th minute when he played a first-time pass which sent Sturridge clear and he angled a shot past Langerak into the corner of the net.
Dortmund looked rusty and were punished for a lack of concentration from a Steven Gerrard corner five minutes later, with the unmarked Lovren allowed time and space to head home from inside the six-yard box.
The remainder of the first half was played at a more sedate pace although Coutinho, full of intelligent movement and clever flicks, continued to threaten in the final third in combination with Sturridge and Sterling.
Gerrard brought a superb one-handed diving save from Langerak with a curling free-kick on the stroke of half-time, and shortly after the interval the home side put the result beyond doubt.
Sterling seized upon a misplaced pass and found the unmarked Coutinho who swivelled and then placed it into the net past the hapless Langerak to get the goal his performance deserved.
Henderson, who had been full of endeavour and energy throughout, tapped home Liverpool’s fourth from close range just after the hour mark.
Rodgers, with one eye on the visit of Southampton in their opening league game, made a number of substitutions throughout the second period as Lucas Leiva Jordan Ibe, Rickie Lambert, Jose Enrique, Martin Kelly and Joe Allen were all introduced.
The changes to personnel saw Liverpool’s passing become disjointed in the final half hour as the game petered out as contest.
But Dortmund, well short of match fitness, rarely troubled a Liverpool defence marshalled well by Martin Skrtel and Lovren throughout.