x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Liverpool start Rodgers era with draw

An experimental Liverpool side battles to a 1-1 draw with Toronto in Canada, while Celtic are hammered 4-0 in a pre-season fixture with Ajax

Adam Morgan is congratulated by Liverpool teammates Suso and Jack Robinson after scoring against Toronto
Adam Morgan is congratulated by Liverpool teammates Suso and Jack Robinson after scoring against Toronto

Brendan Rodgers started his reign as Liverpool manager with a 1-1 draw against Major League Soccer side Toronto.

The hosts took a 58th-minute lead through Quincy Amarikwa but Liverpool equalised 11 minutes later through Adam Morgan following good work by the lively Raheem Sterling as honours finished even at the Rogers Centre.

Rodgers named a mixture of youth and experience for Liverpool's opening pre-season match and made wholesale changes at half-time - 23 Reds players featured in the game.

Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at AC Milan and Lille respectively, both saw action, while Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva was sent on as a 75th-minute replacement for his first appearance since damaging cruciate ligaments in November.

The first half saw Liverpool dominate possession but without causing too much damage going forward, while Reds goalkeeper Brad Jones was called on to tip wide a shot from Ryan Johnson early on.

Jones was replaced by Peter Gulacsi as one of 11 Liverpool changes at the interval and the Hungarian was beaten just before the hour as the tourists fell behind.

Andrew Wiedeman's low shot from the edge of the box was parried by Gulacsi and new Toronto signing Amarikwa was quickest to the loose ball to slot home.

Liverpool's Spanish youngster Suso showed great skill in the 65th minute to fashion a shooting chance but his curling left-footed shot was saved fairly comfortably by Toronto goalkeeper Quillan Roberts.

Rodgers' men were back on level terms four minutes later, though, when Sterling cleverly worked his way into the box before rolling a low shot past Roberts and Morgan was on hand to drill the ball home from close range.

Meanwhile Celtic were handed a harsh lesson in the Amsterdam ArenA after being taken apart by Ajax in a pre-season friendly.

Defender Charlie Mulgrew was sent off for deliberate handball on the line in the 66th minute before Daley Blind scored from the resultant spot-kick - but the damage had been done long before then.

Ajax midfielder Siem De Jong opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a stunning long-range shot which gave goalkeeper Fraser Forster no chance.

The Dutch side were a class apart but Celtic did not help their cause with some slack defending, which cost them dearly in the 21st minute when striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson tapped the ball into the empty net to make it 2-0.

The visitors looked flat-footed in comparison to slick and pacey Ajax who were in total control, keeping the ball for long spells and threatening any time they approached the Celtic box.

Ajax grabbed number three in the 27th minute after Thomas Rogne got caught in possession, allowing Thulani Serero to run through and slide the ball under Forster.

Mulgrew's indiscretion came when, with the Parkhead defence all over the place, he instinctively put his hand up on the line to save a Fischer shot but it was all in vain as Blind slammed the penalty past Forster.


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