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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 0 Liverpool 2

Markovic and Sturridge do the damage at Ewood Park as Jurgen Klopp's crop earn victory in East Lancashire

19 July 2018

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Two second half goals did the damage as Rovers suffered a 2-0 defeat to a strong Liverpool side in our first outing at Ewood Park of the 2018-19 season.

Both goals came after the hour as substitutes Lazar Markovic and Daniel Sturridge both beat Jayson Leutwiler to hand Jurgen Klopp's Reds the victory on a sunny evening in East Lancashire.

Markovic punched home a terrific strike midway through the half before Sturridge poked home soon after to earn the win for the Merseysiders.

Rovers' best opportunity came in the first half, with Loris Karius doing well to smartly deny Dominic Samuel with his legs.

For Rovers' first game back at Ewood, a number of regulars from our League One promotion campaign all started against the Reds, with our regular back five all in the XI, whilst new capture Joe Rothwell got his first run out at home from the left side of an attacking trio behind Samuel.

Fellow new boy Jacob Davenport was an option from the bench, which also featured youngsters Scott Wharton, Lewis Travis and Joe Nuttall.

Visitors Liverpool brought a very strong squad to East Lancashire, and whilst their World Cup stars such as Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino didn't feature, a number of experienced internationals did.

The experienced James Milner started in midfield, whilst England internationals Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana both began the contest.

New boys Naby Keita and Fabinho, who both signed this summer for fees of more than £50m each, both were available for Klopp from the bench.

Just six minutes into the contest Liverpool were awarded a controversial penalty when David Raya was adjudged to have brought down Dominic Solanke in the box, but the Spanish stopper guessed right and denied the normally reliable Milner from the spot to beat away the kick from the experienced former England international.

Rovers were beginning to find their feet in the game, but after a spell of pressure from the hosts it was Solanke who went closest to breaking the deadlock but headed a deep Nathaniel Clyne cross past the post midway through the half.

Just after the half hour mark Rovers nearly manufactured a Charlie Mulgrew special but the Scottish skipper curled a free kick just wide of the target.

A moment later, Samuel produced a step-over, dropped his shoulder, evaded the challenge of Alberto Moreno but saw German ‘keeper Karius in his way, with the stopper saving well with an outstretched leg before Rothwell’s tame header was easy for the Liverpool man to collect.

At the other end, Klopp’s side were struggling to create too many chances, with Belgian forward Divock Origi looping a volley way over Raya’s upright with five minutes to go until the break.

The Reds went closer just a moment later as Lallana clipped the crossbar after linking up well with Ben Woodburn before the England man saw another attempt hacked off the line by Mulgrew.

Liverpool made 10 changes at the break, which saw new signings Keita and Fabinho get game time, along with England man Sturridge, aside from eight others.

Rovers made just the two, with Travis and Amari’i Bell getting minutes in place of Corry Evans and skipper Mulgrew.

One of the visiting substitutes in Curtis Jones blazed over seven minutes into the half as the scores remained 0-0 on a fine night at Ewood Park.

Another substitute in Sturridge almost found the bottom right-hand corner with his left foot, but the effort flew just past the post.

Sturridge went even closer a couple of minutes later, but after leaving Derrick Williams on his backside, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester City man somehow curled wide of Raya’s goal.

A flurry of substitutions saw all the remaining Rovers players bar Samuel head off, with all substitutions aside from Andy Fisher coming on for the final 30 minutes.

And soon after the deadlock was broken and it came in emphatic fashion as Markovic latched onto the end of a pinpoint Sturridge pass and rifled home past Leutwiler from the edge of the box.

Travis did well to clear off the line after Rafa Camacho nipped in behind the Rovers defence as Klopp’s team looked to add to their tally just a few moments later.

Sturridge may have missed his two previous chances, but he made no mistake with his third with 17 minutes remaining as he controlled a pass perfectly before swiftly prodding past Leutwiler to make it 2-0 to the Merseysiders.

The game was beginning to fizzle out, but the visitors were still looking dangerous going forward and new boy Keita saw an effort float way over Leutwiler's goal after shooting from range.

Camacho nearly nipped in to add a third for the Reds late on, but Leutwiler was out smartly to smother and that was to be the last action of the game as Rovers went down 2-0.

Don't forget, Rovers are back in action in a week's time, with Everton making the trip to take on Tony Mowbray's men at Ewood Park, kick-off 7.45pm on Thursday 26th July.

Rovers: Raya (Leutwiler, 60), Nyambe (Nuttall, 60), Lenihan (Downing, 60), Mulgrew (c) (Bell, 46), Williams (Wharton, 60), Evans (Travis, 46), Smallwood (Conway, 60), Bennett (Whittingham, 60), Dack (Tomlinson, 60), Rothwell (Davenport, 60), Samuel.

Unused substitutes: Fisher.

Liverpool: Karius (Kelleher, 60), Clyne (Gomez, 46), Matip (Van Dijk, 46), Klavan (Phillips, 46), Moreno (Robertson, 46), Milner (c) (Fabinho, 46), Lallana (Keita, 46), Ojo (Jones, 46), Woodburn (Markovic, 46), Origi (Camacho, 46), Solanke (Sturridge, 46).

Unused  substitutes: N/A.

Goal: Markovic, 64, Sturridge, 73

Referee: John Moss.

Attendance: 14,620

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