Reds stroll past Gomel
Liverpool produced a fine display to beat FC Gomel 3-0 in the second leg of their Europa League qualifying tie and seal a 4-0 aggregate success.
Last Updated: 09/08/12 10:19pm
Liverpool produced an impressive performance to beat FC Gomel 3-0 in the second leg of their Europa League qualifying tie and seal a 4-0 aggregate success.
It had not been one-way traffic in the first leg despite the Reds coming away from Belarus with a slender lead, but Brendan Rodgers was treated to a vibrant passing display in his first match as manager at Anfield.
Fabio Borini opened the scoring on his home debut with a volley in the 21st minute, before Steve Gerrard tapped home a second 20 minutes later following some great work by the in-form Luis Suarez.
Glen Johnson blasted in a brilliant third from outside the area in the second half to seal an emphatic victory and send Liverpool into Friday's draw for the play-off round.
More significant tests are to come and the presence of Reds' former assistant manager Steve Clarke was a reminder that the first Premier League game against West Brom is only nine days away.
Joe Allen was another interested spectator in the crowd as speculation continues to link the Swansea City midfielder with a move to Liverpool.
This win should at least settle some of the nerves which have started to grow amid speculation that Daniel Agger and Andy Carroll might end up joining the summer exodus from a club that expects much better than last season's eighth-place finish.
There are some who wonder whether Rodgers would be happy to pocket the cash for Agger to fund a squad strengthening exercise but the Liverpool manager was wholesome in his praise earlier this week and was prepared to put Jamie Carragher on the bench to accommodate him.
Suarez was the most telling presence though. Eight days after his Olympic campaign with Uruguay came to a sorry end in Cardiff and with a lucrative contract signed earlier this week, he approached the tie with a sense of purpose.
Suarez raced onto a return pass from Gerrard before flashing a shot inches over, then left Gomel skipper Nikolai Kashevsky looking silly with a smart turn.
Unfortunately for the South American, he could not profit from his impudence as Vladimir Bushma got down to save his angled drive.
Gomel were finding it impossible to subdue Suarez and when he outsmarted them again with a run to the byline, it led directly to Liverpool's opener.
Kashevsky stuck out a leg to turn the low cross out of the six-yard area but in doing so sent it straight to Borini, who promptly smashed a first-time shot under Bushma's body.
It was a fine way for Borini to mark his home debut and the former Chelsea man thought he was going to get another shortly afterwards, only for Sergey Matsveychyk to turn away a Suarez cross that was about to leave the Italian with an empty net.
Instead, Gerrard got one four minutes from half-time. Once again Suarez did the spadework, driving into the heart of Gomel's defence and drawing Bushma, leaving the Reds skipper with the simplest of tasks.
With a place in Friday's draw secure, Liverpool went in search of more goals after the break.
Gerrard thudded a shot against the base of a post before Suarez went on another mazy run through the Gomel defence.
His shot would have squeezed in at the far corner had Bushma not managed to touch it behind with an excellent low save.
Liverpool's third eventually arrived from an unlikely source 19 minutes from time as Johnson charged onto a loose ball, controlled on his chest, then belted home a left-footed shot from the edge of the area.
Suarez's hopes of a goal were dashed when he was denied a clear run by a debatable offside flag but Liverpool were safely through.