Kelly Carragher Wilson Flanagan
Cole Shelvey Pacheco
Wisdom Kyrgiakos Agger Robinson
Kuyt Aquilani Maxi
• Hansen on for Jones 71'
Liu Lin 90'
Three sloppy goals conceded – one in first half injury time, two in second half injury time – take the shine off of what was otherwise one of Liverpool's best first preseason friendly performances in recent memory.
Despite wholesale changes at halftime, Liverpool played 4-2-3-1 throughout. The first half saw a similar line-up and start to many of Liverpool's Europa League games, with Cole, Shelvey, and Ngog featuring. The away side was increasingly in control, playing some clever pass and move football and circling the ball across the pitch, with two goals coming in quick succession around the 20 minute mark.
First, Cole's delicious cross found Poulsen wide open at the back post, where the Dane coolly (and surprisingly) beat the keeper with a side-footed placed shot. Three minutes later, Cole's good work led to Shelvey in space between the midfield and defense, where he found Ngog with a perfectly-angled throughball. The Frenchman took one touch before sliding under the keeper.
Liverpool continued to patiently dominate for the rest of the half, but were undone with seconds remaining. Kelly was caught upfield, Poulsen couldn't get back to cover, and Gulasci rashly came out and missed the left-sided cross, allowing Steer to head in.
We saw an entirely different XI in the second half, with more first-teamers in addition to debuts for Adam, Coady, and Wisdom. Aquilani made his return in red, playing behind Carroll with Kuyt and Maxi on the flanks, while Meireles wasn't included in the match-day squad. Due to the inclusion of Adam and Carroll, Liverpool looked for more ambitious long-range passing, which took time to settle.
However, a little less than 30 minutes after the restart, a Liverpool break led Carroll setting up Coady. The mountainous Geordie held up play well before finding the youngster, who took one touch before blasting past the substitute keeper. With five minutes to play, Liverpool added a fourth through the #9, playing a clever one-two with Maxi before slotting in from eight yards. Liverpool falling asleep in added time, conceding twice as Kyrgiakos, Agger, and Wisdom made mistakes, makes this result far closer – and far more annoying – than it should have been.
It's impossible to divine much from preseason matches, but on the whole, Liverpool impressed. With slightly different styles in either half despite the change in formation, the side scored four – once on an excellent cross, once with a clever throughball, once aiming for Carroll over the top on the break, and once with a one-two pass and move. Cole and Shelvey bossed the first half, Adam increasingly set the tempo in the second. Both Ngog and Carroll notched, as did the 18-yard old Conor Coady. As did Christian Poulsen, of all players. No matter that it was against a second division Chinese side. And, to be fair, it is the middle of that second division side's season, but Liverpool looked the fitter in the final stages despite conceding twice.
It's hard to pick out best players in but Shelvey, Cole, Robinson, and Adam were most notable in my eyes. Shelvey and Cole dictated play in the first half, Adam did in the second. Since everyone probably cares more about Adam, I thought he was very Adam. He often looked for over-ambitious passes – some came off, some didn't – but increasingly played it simple as the match went on. He was constantly on the ball as the deepest midfielder, where he put in some impressive tackles.
What worries were all three goals conceded. All three were sloppy and lazy. All three were easily preventable were certain players paying attention. But that's preseason; it's slightly more explainable when it happens in meaningless matches and at least they're getting those mistakes out of the way now.
Liverpool next face a Malaysian XI on Saturday at 5:30am eastern time.