Liverpool hands Sydney FC a footballing lesson
IT was the night that proved no one clad in the red of Liverpool will ever walk alone for long on the streets of Sydney.
Almost 73,000 of the club's Australian fans saw the show they had queued for at ANZ Stadium, a gentle 3-0 filleting of Sydney FC with just enough edge to satisfy the faithful that they had their money's worth.
Three goals ahead at the break, Liverpool strolled to a victory against a Sydney side that appeared to be counting the moments until their holiday could begin.
For the local side there was the surreal feeling of playing as visitors in their home city, scarcely a sky-blue shirt in sight less than three weeks after they swept to glory in the A-League. But the brutal truth was that they were there as fodder for the thousands who had come to see their heroes, past and present.
Foremost among those was Steven Gerrard, now an academy coach at Liverpool but whose face will always stir the hearts of any Reds fan. In the second minute he almost brought the house down by skying over from near the penalty spot, and just on halftime he was himself brought down by Rhyan Grant when through on goal.
To prove the competitive streak in Gerrard is undimmed he berated every match official as the teams left the pitch for halftime, with coach Jurgen Klopp equally outraged at the lack of a penalty.
Maybe the Liverpool boss was hoping to distract the attention of his defenders, given the potential for friction in Liverpool's back three. Jamie Carragher, back in the famous shirt four years after retiring, is a genuine club legend but his withering criticism of the Reds' defence since had not gone unnoticed by his teammates for the night.
Perhaps it was something to be settled man to man in the dressing room afterwards, helped by the multiple crates of a well-known Danish lager pre-ordered to be ready for the Liverpool players when they left the pitch.
Certainly Carragher took no nonsense from anyone, dumping George Blackwood on his posterior when the young Sydney forward had the temerity to turn him in the first half.
Moreno could also point to his most positive contribution of the night, latching on to Roberto Firmino's elegant pass and flicking the ball past Danny Vukovic to score. By then the Reds were already ahead, Daniel Sturridge twisting and turning in the box before driving the ball past Vukovic, and Firmino deflected in Sturridge's cross for the third.
But truth be told, no one was that fussed by the details as the paper aeroplanes swooped from the stands, Matt Simon and Daniel Agger cracked an unlikely series of jokes and both coaches introduced a host of youthful subs from the bench.
Sydney forced two decent saves from Simon Mignolet in the dying moments, but as a contest it never got started.
As the final whistle sounded, Klopp led his players on a lap of honour, and the night of homage was complete.