Daniel Agger’s last-minute own goal gifted Roma victory in Liverpool’s first game of their USA tour, in a game that Brendan Rodgers’ side shaded on the whole.
Liverpool 0-1 Roma
Friendly / Fenway Park, Boston / Thursday, 24th July 2014
Goals: Agger OG (89)
By Henry Jackson
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers handed Jose Enrique his first start since Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace last October, with the 28-year-old left-back continuing his recovery from long-term injury.
Sebastian Coates was given a rare starting berth alongside captain Martin Skrtel, while Jordon Ibe started again following an impressive performance against Preston last Saturday.
There was no place in the squad for new signings Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana, however, with the latter having only returned to training on Monday.
Liverpool got off to a solid start against a strong Roma team, enjoying the better of possession in front of an expectant American crowd at Fenway Park.
Fabio Borini, potentially Sunderland-bound, left the field just 10 minutes into the game after injuring his shoulder. He was replaced by Emre Can.
In truth it was a very forgettable opening 45 minutes, with neither side managing a single shot on target and both seemingly struggling with the trajectory of their passing.
Italian legend Francesco Totti went closest, kneeing the ball wide following good work from new signing Ashley Cole. Ibe looked a threat for Liverpool, while Coates was an assured presence at centre-back.
The two sides went in at half-time all square.
Rodgers made just one change at the interval, with Jack Robinson replacing Enrique at left-back.
Philippe Coutinho twice tried his luck a couple of minutes into the second-half, but saw both attempts sail wide, while Rickie Lambert failed to connect properly with a close-range effort after a fine cross by Martin Kelly.
Liverpool were stepping it up, and Can’s pace and power made him an increasingly influential figure in midfield. Lambert’s stinging left foot drive in the 57th minute tested Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski, while another Coutinho effort was blocked following good work by substitute Kristoffer Peterson.
The final 20 minutes of the game drifted somewhat, with Roma’s many substitutions at the midway point of the half doing nothing to help the flow of the game.
Brad Jones made a fine save to deny Antonio Sanabria late on, but just as it looked as though the game was heading for an inevitable draw, Daniel Agger diverted the ball agonisingly past Jones from a Roma corner to gift the Italian side victory.
The performance was adequate, if a little lacking in intensity, and Rodgers will want to see an improvement ahead of Sunday’s clash with Olympiakos.
Man of the Match: Lucas Leiva
The Reds were deployed in a 4-3-3 formation at the start of proceedings, rather than the 4-4-2 diamond Rodgers is occasionally fond of, with Coutinho at the top a midfield three, and Ibe and Borini start either side of Lambert.
Borini’s injury caused the Northern Irishman to push Coutinho out to the right, with Can slotting into the centre of midfield and Joe Allen playing a more advanced role.
Can, in particular, showed exactly what he will add to the Liverpool midfield, with speed, strength and mobility in abundance.
Liverpool: Jones, Kelly, Skrtel, Coates (Agger 60), Enrique (Robinson 46), Lucas, Allen (Henderson 77), Coutinho (Phillips 85), Borini (Can 12), Lambert (Peterson 60), Ibe (Suso 77).
Subs not used: Ward, Coady.
Roma starting XI: Skorupski, Somma, Benatia, Castan, Cole, Florenzi, Keita, Nainggolan, Iturbe, Totti, Ljajic.