English Premiership

Gerrard delights Aussie crowd

2013-07-24 14:52
Steven Gerrard (AFP)

Melbourne - Steven Gerrard sent the 95 000 crowd home happy with a trademark goal in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Australia's Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

The Liverpool skipper scored in the first half and Spaniard striker Iago Aspas got home in injury time off some Luis Suarez trickery, to seal a hard-fought win over the two-times A-League champions.

Despite an emotional rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone" by the capacity red-clad crowd prior to the kickoff, Liverpool struggled to dominate the home side -- even though they were missing all their Socceroo stars playing at the East Asian Cup in South Korea.

Gerrard's goal gave Liverpool the half-time lead, but it took until deep into injury time before they added a second goal after some clever lead-up work from want-away Uruguayan striker Suarez.

New signing Aspas was there to score from close range off Suarez's pass with the last kick of the game.

Every touch made by Gerrard was greeted with a huge roar from the pro-Liverpool capacity crowd.

Gerrard had a long-range shot beaten away by goalkeeper Nathan Coe midway through the opening half, but Victory were comfortable on the ball, passing it around the pitch for long periods and not overawed.

The Victory produced a much stiffer, more composed performance than the A-League All-Stars thrown together and battered by Manchester United 5-1 in Sydney a few days earlier.

Liverpool got the breakthrough in the 32nd minute when Gerrard interchanged passes with Welsh midfielder Joe Allen before storming into the goal area and firing past Coe.

While Gerrard was hero-worshipped by the Australian Liverpool fans, a huge roar greeted Suarez sitting among the substitutes when his face was shown on the big screen.

Gerrard made way on the hour, and then Suarez made his way on to the ground among wholesale substitutions in the 72nd minute.

Suarez is a 40 million ($61 million) transfer target of Arsenal and he has made it clear he is keen to move to a team playing Champions League football.

Suarez was playing for the first time for Liverpool since biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. Suarez was suspended for 10 games over the incident and will miss the start of the Premier League season as a result.

It was Liverpool's second win of their Asian pre-season tour after they defeated Indonesia XI 2-0 in Jakarta last weekend. They now head to Bangkok where they will play Thailand on Sunday.

New signing Kolo Toure and Brazilian Philippe Coutinho did not play against Melbourne Victory because of injury.

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