On a night when Robbie Keane made his Anfield debut, it was another, somewhat less glamorous, forward who stole the show when the much maligned Andriy Voronin came off the bench to score the only goal of the game late on.
Voronin was subject to boos when he replaced Keane with 9 minutes remaining, but silenced the boos by scoring in the 90th and holding his finger to his lips in response.
Dirk Kuyt started the match on the right of midfield again, with Xabi Alonso and youngster Damien Plessis paired together in the middle in aniticpation for the Champions League qualifier with Standard Liege next Wednesday when Rafa Benitez is set to be without skipper Steven Gerrard.
It was two players who have been linked with moves away from Anfield this summer who were the Reds best performers with Alonso and Yossi Benayoun again impressing. Alonso received a good reception from the Anfield crowd as they made it clear they don’t wish him for him to leave. New left back Andrea Dossena also impressed.
This was Liverpool’s eigth pre-season game and they remained undefeated but Lazio proved a stronger test than most of the seven previous friendlies.
Setanta Sports Report Source
The Kop came to see their new number seven net his first Liverpool goal on his Anfield debut, but they were left to settle for a 90th-minute winner from Andriy Voronin that flattened Lazio.
Robbie Keane worked tirelessly to impress his new admirers, but clear chances would not fall his way despite a dominant first half showing by The Reds.
As Rafa Benitez rested his top stars during the second half, it appeared Liverpool’s final pre-season friendly would prove a damp squib, but Voronin arrived in the nick of time to smash home a 16-yard volley.
There was still time for Lazio to attempt to spoil the party, heading past Diego Cavalieri in injury time, but the linesman’s flag ensured The Reds went home happy.
Benitez gave a huge indication of the side that would face Standard Liege in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier on Wednesday, picking his strongest available side in front of a capacity Anfield crowd.
Jose Reina started his first pre-season game in goal, behind a defence of Alvaro Arbeloa, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and the impressive Andrea Dossena.
With Steven Gerrard injured and Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva on Olympic duty, Xabi Alonso and Daniel Plessis anchored the midfield behind Yossi Benayoun, with Fernando Torres, Robbie Keane and Dirk Kuyt up front.
It was Keane’s home debut in the seven shirt previously worn by Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan, and he had a hand in The Reds’ two best moments of the first half.
First, he produced a sharp spin and pass out to Benayoun out on the left, but the Israeli chose to cut back onto his right when an instant cross would have spelt real danger for a retreating Lazio defence.
Then came an even better ball from Keane, lofted this time out to Benayoun, and when the former West Ham man volleyed across goal only Kuyt will know how he failed to convert from four yards.
Benitez will have been satisfied by the dominance of his side, if not the amount of chances being created, and Torres looked sharper and possibly quicker than he has ever looked.
The Spaniard was rested at the break, David Ngog the replacement, and with his departure went a significant percentage of Liverpool’s threat.
Agger raised the decibels in The Kop with a 12-yard volley that forced a full stretch save, but it was Reina at the other end who had to make the better stop, tipping over a swerving 20-yard effort that look destined for the back of the net.
Substitute goalkeeper Cavalieri then made an equally impressive stop as Liverpool’s reshuffled defence looked a complete shambles with Benitez making a whole host of changes.
It looked like the scores would remain goalless, but then Voronin reacted to Jay Spearing’s cleverly cushioned pass to slash high past the Lazio keeper.
Eight friendlies, no defeats, a solid ‘“ if unspectacular ‘“ preparation for a title tilt.
Liverpool: Reina (Cavalieri, 73), Arbeloa (Darby, 73), Carragher (Finnan,80), Agger (Hyypia, 73), Dossena (Insua, 73), Kuyt (Pennant, 80), Plessis (Nemeth, 80), Alonso (Spearing, 73), Benayoun (El Zhar, 73), Keane (Voronin, 80), Torres (Ngog, 46).
Lazio: Carrizo, Lichtsteiner, Dabo, Matuzalem, Mauri, Siviglia, Pandev, Rozenhal, Ledesma, Makinwa, Radu.
Referee: Andy Marriner