Liverpool 3-1 Athletic Bilbao: Reds end pre-season with comfortable win over La Liga side
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 06/08/17 8:31pm
Liverpool ended their pre-season campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The Reds opened the scoring from the spot after Roberto Firmino had been hauled down in the box, with the Brazilian stepping up to net with a crisp shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
That advantage lasted just nine minutes, though, before Bilbao, who were fielding a largely second-string line-up in Dublin - drew level through Inaki Williams' well-taken strike.
However, after Jurgen Klopp made 10 changes at the break, his side scored twice more courtesy of Ben Woodburn's impressive effort (59) and another from Dominic Solanke (80).
Liverpool were without the injured Coutinho, Sturridge and Lallana, while captain Henderson also missed out with illness
Liverpool started the game brightly, pressing their opponents high up the field, before taking a deserved lead after 21 minutes when Firmino was pulled down in the box.
The forward, rather than regular penalty taker James Milner, picked himself up to beat Athletic goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from 12 yards for his second successful spot kick in a week after also converting against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
However, that goal appeared to breathe new life into the La Liga side, who dominated proceedings for the remainder of the half, drawing level on the half-hour mark.
Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren failed to fully intercept a through pass, with the ball then getting deflected kindly straight into the path of Williams, who still had a lot of work to do.
The highly-rated Spain international kept his composure, though, to beat Simon Mignolet with a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net as the two teams went in all square at the break.
Klopp changed his entire outfield team for the second period, and it took the Reds just 14 minutes to retake the lead, and what a goal it was too.
Solanke did well to get free to the left-hand byline and the forward's clever pull back picked out Woodburn on the edge of the area, with the 17-year-old then beating Arrizabalaga with a brilliant long-range strike.
Liverpool sealed the win with 10 minutes to go when centre-back Ragnar Klavan strode forward, before the Estonian curled in a delightful ball for the unmarked Solanke to head home from near the penalty spot.
And that completed a highly successful pre-season for Klopp and his side as they shape up for the new campaign.
Man of the match: Alberto Moreno
The left-back was Liverpool's most threatening attacking outlet in the first half, before being substituted at the break.
The Spaniard may now have played himself into contention to start in Liverpool's back four at Watford next weekend after this latest impressive display, especially with last season's first-choice left-back Milner preferring to play in midfield this campaign.
Liverpool kick off their top-flight season with a match against Watford at Vicarage Road next Saturday, a game you can see live on Sky Sports Premier League channel.