Sports Mole brings you live coverage of Liverpool's penultimate pre-season match as they take on Valerenga in Norway.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 17:30 UK
Last Updated: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 07:38 UK
Liverpool maintained their 100% pre-season record with a comfortable 4-1 win over Valerenga this afternoon.
Luis Alberto opened the scoring for the Reds with a volley from the edge of the box, but their lead lasted just three minutes as Giancarlo Gonzalez nodded home an equaliser shortly afterwards.
The Reds wouldn't be denied a half-time lead, however, and went in to the break ahead courtesy of Iago Aspas's tap in.
Liverpool extended their lead 10 minutes into the second half when Martin Kelly bundled the ball over the line from close range.
Valerenga's goal seemed to be living a charmed life as Liverpool struck the crossbar three times before getting their fourth, which was supplied by Raheem Sterling in the 90th minute.
You can read how an action-packed 90 minutes unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage below.
5.30pmGood afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's pre-season match between Valerenga Fotball and Liverpool!
5.32pmWe'll start by looking at the hosts today, and Valerenga come into this match in very impressive form. They are currently 18 matches into their regular season and, despite only being seventh in the table, have not lost in their last 10 competitive matches.
5.34pmTheir last outing saw them draw 2-2 away to Tromso, while the match before that was an eight-goal thriller as Valerenga ran out 5-3 winners over Sarsborg 08. It hasn't all been plain sailing for the Norwegian side in recent weeks, however. Last Saturday they welcomed the mighty Barcelona, who dispatched of them 7-0.
5.36pmHowever, being in the middle of a new season they should be at peak match fitness, which could prove to be a telling difference this afternoon. Liverpool should more or less be nearing full match fitness as they edge towards the end of their pre-season campaign, but they won't quite be as sharp as they will hope to be on the opening day of the season against Stoke.
5.38pmAnother cause for optimism for Valerenga comes from two seasons ago. They welcomed Liverpool to their shores then too, and held the Premier League side to a 3-3 draw as Mohammed Fellah scored a 90th-minute equaliser. Andy Carroll and Daniel Agger (2) were both on the scoresheet for the Reds on that occasion.
5.40pmSpeaking of Liverpool, their pre-season campaign has gone as smoothly as they would have hoped - on the pitch. They have won each of their five warm-up matches without conceding a goal, a record that will delight manager Brendan Rodgers. Off the field, it has been a little bit different (more on that later), but in pure footballing terms, the Reds look sharp ahead of the new season.
5.42pmToday marks their penultimate warm-up game before their Premier League curtain-raiser against Stoke on Sat 17. They have already beaten Preston, Indonesia, Melbourne Victory, Thailand and Olympiacos and still have Celtic left to play after today.
5.44pmTheir last outing was, of course, Steven Gerrard's testimonial as he celebrated 15 years of being a Liverpool player. It was a magnificent occasion at Anfield and, although Gerrard himself didn't manage to get on the scoresheet, it was a roaring success for the man himself. What a servant he has been to the club, and he is expected to start again this afternoon.
5.45pmTEAM NEWS: He was expected to start, but he won't Liverpool's team news shows that Gerrard is on the bench, alongside usual starters Mignolet, Enrique and Coutinho. Interestingly, it looks like Jay Spearing could be playing in right back with Henderson, Allen and Alberto in midfield. Full team news coming up.
5.49pmThere are a number of key players missing from the squad as the likes of Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson have not travelled due to injury. The most glaring omission, though, is Luis Suarez, who also didn't travel due to an injury (we're told). The Uruguayan's transfer saga has overshadowed Liverpool's pre-season so far and it took another twist last night as Suarez accused the club of a breach of contract.
5.51pmSuarez made it abundantly clear that he wants to leave the club in order to join one in the Champions League, with Arsenal looking like the most likely suitors. The Gunners have made a bid of £40m and £1, which they believe activates a release clause. Suarez clearly feels the same way and is willing to go to the Premier League authorities in order to force a move.
5.53pmAny talk of a further bid from Arsenal is currently irrelevant. The Gunners must now play the waiting game and see if they are correct in regards to the contract. If so, they could snag Suarez at just over £40m, which would be a relative bargain compared to the figures being thrown about for the likes of Gareth Bale. If Liverpool are right in the contract dispute, however, then Arsenal must decide whether or not to match the Reds' valuation of the striker. Even with Suarez's plea to leave, Liverpool will not let him go on the cheap, especially to a rival.
5.55pmPREDICTION: Moving away from Suarez for a brief moment, it is time for my match prediction! Valerenga's fitness levels could give them a small edge in one department in this match, but Liverpool should be pretty fit themselves at this stage of pre-season so I don't think that it will make much of a difference. I can't see past the Reds winning this game and, although they have a makeshift defence, they should keep up their clean sheet record as well. 3-0 to Liverpool.
5.57pmOne last word on Suarez: The only thing that matters at the moment is the contract dispute. If Suarez is right, then he will leave. If Liverpool are right then very little has changed for them. They will still want their valuation to be met and are unlikely to sell for anything less than £50m at the very least. For what it is worth, I think Liverpool are the most likely party to have got it right. They, after all, were the ones who wrote up the contract and they would have been careful that there were no loopholes whatsoever. Any misunderstanding or misinterpretation is much more likely to have come from Suarez's side.
5.59pmEnough about that, though, because we have a football game to watch! Liverpool have named a somewhat experimental side, which surprises me a little being so close to the start of the season. I would have thought that Rodgers would have taken this opportunity to give them some more match experience.
0 minKICKOFF: Liverpool get us underway in Norway. Can they keep up their impressive pre-season record? Stick with us to find out.
2 minEarly half chance for Liverpool as Downing digs a veru good cross out with his right foot. Ibe is racing in and lunges towards it, but he is just beaten to it by the defender.
4 minAllen looks to be playing in the holding position today, which is a slight change from where he has been playing for most of the pre-season. With Henderson and Alberto on, Allen is playing as the most defensive midfielder when he had been getting forward a lot previously.
6 minClever corner from Liverpool as Downing plays it along the floor to Henderson, who is captain today. The midfielder takes a touch before looking to drill it across the face of goal, but the defence deal with it well.
7 minFree kick in a very good position for Liverpool as Zajic brings down Luis Alberto around 27 yards from goal. It is very central, but a very good shooting chance.
8 minPoor effort from Henderson. He wallops it a long way over the bar and it was still rising as it hit the fans.
10 minSHOT! The first notable shot of the afternoon goes Liverpool's way. Allen makes a late dart towards the edge of the box and he picks up the ball in plenty of space. He lines up a shot but doesn't catch it right and sends it wide.
12 minLiverpool are in complete control of this match, dominating possession and forcing Valerenga to chase shadows. They aren't turning that possession into chances at the moment, though.
14 minA patient Liverpool move ends with Ibe picking up the ball on the edge of the area and going for goal. His shot is wild, however, and ends up a long way high and wide.
16 minCHANCE! It really should be 1-0 to Liverpool. Downing pounces on a poor pass from Ogude and suddenly Liverpool have a two-on-one situation. Downing holds on to it for a while before giving it to Aspas, who takes a touch but sees his shot saved by Kongshavn. It was a good save, but Aspas really should have scored.
17 minCHANCE! Another good chance falls Asaps's way, but this time his shot is deflected wide for a corner. Ibe showed good strength to find a way past his man on the wing and then showcased his awareness by cutting it back for the Spaniard, whose shot may well have been going in before the block.
18 minNice footwork from Allen who moves into the box and fizzes a pass across the face of goal. It almost goes all the way to Ibe, but is cleared just in front of the youngster.
19 minIbe has been heavily involved in this opening 20 minutes or so. He lines up his full-back again but this times goes past him the other way, only to drag his shot wide of the near post.
20 minIt opens up for Downing from range, but the winger can't keep it down and another shot ends up with the fans behind the goal. Liverpool haven't got their shooting boots on at the moment.
22 minIt does seem like a matter of time before Liverpool get the opening goal here. They are putting increasing pressure on their hosts and the shot count is racking up. They need to be a little more ruthless, but they have looked sharp on the whole.
23 minSAVE! Kongshavn makes two saves in quick succession as he first denies Aspas, who went for goal from a tight angle, before comfortably stopping Downing's low strike.
24 minA quick break from Liverpool releases Ibe, who lines up his marker yet again but doesn't quite sell him enough with the dummy. He still just about gets past him, but by then the keeper is out to smother any shot.
26 minSAVE! Valerenga have probably their most threatening moment of the match, but it is still easy for Jones. Berre did well to find space before whipping a shot goalwards, but it is straight at the Liverpool keeper.
28 minSAVE! At the other end Ibe comes close again. This time the winger drilled a low shot in from inside the box, but Kongshvan got a good leg to it. Ibe wants a goal here!
29 minWHAT A SAVE! That is a truly world-class save from Kongshavn, who is having the game of his life at the moment! Flanagan sends a brilliant ball into the box which Aspas gets to for what looks like a simple tap-in. Aspas couldn't have done any more, but he was thwarted by a magnificent flying save by the keeper.
31 minGOAL! Valerenga 0-1 Liverpool (Luis Alberto)
32 minLiverpool finally break the deadlock and it has been coming. The Reds have a four-on-two situation and Ibe gives it to Aspas, who tries to lift it over the keeper. He is unlucky to see it come back off the bar, but the ball eventually breaks to Luis Alberto, who shows good technique to volley it in from the edge of the area.
34 minGOAL! Valerenga 1-1 Liverpool (Giancarlo Gonzalez)
35 minValerenga hit straight back! It is very much against the run of play, but it is a very good header from the Costa Rican. Gonzalez gets the run on Henderson and rises at the near post to power it home, giving Jones no chance. That is the first goal that Liverpool have conceded in pre-season.
37 minPENALTY SHOUT! Huge penalty shout for Liverpool, and with good reason. Aspas completely outfoxes Lecjacks in the box, causing the Czech defender to lunge out with his left foot, tripping the Spaniard. The referee and his assistant both say no, but Aspas has a very good claim there.
39 minValerenga have responded well to going behind. Other than their goal they have posed much more of an attacking threat and are causing Liverpool problems from corners in particular.
41 minCHANCE! Aspas just doesn't look like a natural finisher. He should have a lot more goals in this pre-season than he has managed given the number of chances he has had. This time he struggles to sort his feet out and, before he knows it, Kongshavn is out to smother the chance. Aspas keeps getting in the right positions, but he needs to be more clinical.
42 minKongshavn has been brilliant today but he doesn't need to be at his best for this effort. Henderson goes for goal from 25 yards out, but it is a tame effort and the keeper easily collects.
43 minSAVE! Holm lets the ball run across his body which sees him escape the attentions of Coates for a brief second. He immediately looks to shoot, but his effort from the edge of the box is straight at Jones.
45 minToo easy for Liverpool as one pass inside the full-back sees Downing have acres of space down the right. Aspas shows very clever movement in the middle to lose the attention of his marker before getting on the end of the low cross for the simplest of tap-ins. Again, he got himself into the right position and this time he simply couldn't miss.
6.48pmThe perfect end to the half from Liverpool sees them go into the break with a thoroughly deserved lead. They should have more than their two goals, but Rodgers will be happy enough with the performance so far.
6.50pmOn a day where Liverpool-related talk has been dominated by a man who wants to leave the club, it is two players who have just joined who have made the difference so far. Luis Alberto showed good technique for his goal, while Aspas demonstrated classic centre-forward play for his.
6.52pmAspas has been presented with a number of good chances, and he should have more than one goal to his name, but Liverpool fans will still be buoyed by his performance so far. He is getting in to all of the right positions and, on another day, could have had a hat-trick. His finishing has, at times, left a lot to be desired, but he is also coming up against a keeper who is playing very well. There is clear room for improvement for the Spaniard, but still cause for optimism.
6.54pmAs for Valerenga, they were on the back foot for the vast majority of that half. Their goal came out of the blue and it was the first time that they had really threatened Brad Jones's goal. It was a good header nonetheless, and the hosts do look dangerous from set pieces. They started to pose more of an attacking threat after their equaliser and, ironically, Liverpool's second goal came when Valerenga were enjoying their best spell of the match.
6.56pmTheir coach will be happy to only be trailing by one goal, however. It could have been a lot worse given Liverpool's dominance and, as long as it stays so close, he will be telling his players that they have the chance to nick a draw in this match.
6.58pmAs for Rodgers, he will be asking his side for more of the same. If they keep creating so many chances then goals are bound to come as the game begins to open up in the second half. He will be happy with the performance so far, but a little more ruthlessness in front of goal could make this a confidence-boosting scoreline.
7pmThe team he is telling that to may well be a very different team to the one we saw in that first half, however. Rodgers is expected to make a plethora subs at the break - maybe as many as 10. He has said that one player will play the full 90 minutes, but he didn't specify who.
7.02pmLIVERPOOL SUBS: There are, indeed, lots of changes at the break. Gerrard, Enrique, Sterling, Coutinho, Borini, Kelly and Mignolet are among those coming on.
45 minKICKOFF: Valerenga get us back underway in this second half. Can they pull off a shock and grab an equaliser?
47 minThere were 10 changes in all for Liverpool at half time, and that one player Rodgers mentioned appears to be Wisdom, who is the only survivor from that first half.
49 minAssaidi makes a good run behind the defence and reaches the byline before trying to pull it back across goal for Borini. The striker would have a simple tap-in, but it is well defended and cleared out for a corner.
50 minBright start from Assaidi, who pops up on the other wing now and turns a defender inside out before curling an effort towards the bottom corner, but it bounces wide.
51 minVALERENGA SUB: I'm not quite sure why they didn't make this change at half time, but Larsen's afternoon is over as he is replaced by Wawrzynkiewicz.
52 minNice football from Liverpool as Coutinho uses a dummy run from Gerrard to find Borini, but the striker's shot is well blocked.
54 minGOAL! Valerenga 1-3 Liverpool (Martin Kelly)
55 minThis goal won't win any beauty prizes, but Liverpool won't care. Kolo Toure pokes his head towards a corner but just misses the ball. Kelly is not expecting it to reach him, and the ball appears to come off his arm and trickle in. Messy, messy goal.
56 minOFF THE BAR! If Toure had attacked the last one like he did this one then he could well have got the goal. He throws himself at another corner and powers a header against the crossbar. So nearly 4-1.
58 minVALERENGA SUBS: Triple change for the hosts as Lecjaks, Zajic and Holm make way for Thomassen, Haestad and Zahid.
59 minGood movement from Berre, who is Valerenga's star striker, as he picks up the ball inside the box. He goes for goal from a very tight angle and is never going to score, but it is decent football from the hosts.
61 minVALERENGA SUB: Yet another change for the hosts as Ogude makes way for 17-year-old Nasgard. That is a defensive change.
63 minCHANCE! Oh that is just a whisker away. Borini shows good desire to chase down a long ball forward. He beats the keeper to it but by the time he catches the ball up it is at an almost impossible angle. It is a decent effort under the circumstances as the ball trickles across the line, only to end up going just wide.
65 minLiverpool are still very much in control of this match. Valerenga are posing very sporadic threats to Liverpool's goal, but overall it is Liverpool who are the only team who look like scoring.
67 minThere will be questions over the quality of Liverpool's opposition during this pre-season. Yes, they have won every game so far - a record they look like continuing here - but they haven't really been tested yet. Olympiacos were their sternest test so far and Celtic will provide a challenge, but it remains to be seen whether they will be fully ready for their opening match of the season against Stoke.
69 minAssaidi is left all alone in the middle of the area, but he fails to make contact with the ball as he swings his leg at it! That was a chance! As it was, the ball ran through towards Borini, who showed good desire to get in front of his man but his shot was never troubling the goal.
71 minIt's looking a little like a training regime for Liverpool at the moment. They are just keeping the ball and wearing Valerenga down. Very much attack vs. defence.
73 minCHANCE! The holes are beginning to open in the Valerenga defence, and they look vulnerable to diagonal runs as their offside trap just isn't working. Borini is the latest to take advantage of that as he gets on the end of Sterling's reverse pass, but the hosts are saved by Kongshavn once again.
75 minOFF THE BAR! Behind the keeper, that crossbar has been Valerenga's best player today. That is the third time that Liverpool have hit it today. Coutinho set the ball up for Borini to whip an effort goalwards from the edge of the box, but the Italian is unlucky to see it come back off the woodwork.
77 minIt really has been a combination of the crossbar and Kongshavn that has kept this scoreline respectable. There may be a little blame to be attributed to poor finishing on occasions, but overall Liverpool haven't been too wasteful in front of goal. On another day, they could have had seven or eight - maybe even more.
80 minThat being said, they could be struggling for a 20-goal striker if Luis Suarez leaves. Daniel Sturridge could well step up, and he certainly showed that he has the ability at the end of last season, but he isn't as clinical as the Uruguayan and, if Sturridge was to get injured, it is hard to see Borini or Aspas making up for that lack of goals.
82 minWawrzynkiewicz has a speculative effort for the hosts as he curls it high and wide, which is what they have been limited to in this second half. It has been compete dominance for Liverpool since half time.
84 minCHANCE! Just as I say that, Valerenga have a good chance! A deflected cross allows Wawrzynkiewicz to comes in at the back post only to blaze over from close range. The ball was bouncing and it wasn't as easy a chance as it looked, but still the brightest moment for the hosts in the second half.
85 minVALERENGA SUB: Kongshavn gets a well deserved standing ovation as he makes way for Knutsen. Kongshavn has been very good today, and the main reason why it is only 3-1 to Liverpool.
86 minCLOSE! Very close from Steven Gerrard who plays a one-two with Assaidi before drilling a shot towards the top corner. He puts too much on it, however, and it flies just over the bar. Not far away at all.
87 minCLOSE! So close from Coutinho, who weaves his way in to space before curling a fine shot that drifts just past the post. Unlucky, that was lovely play from the Brazilian.
89 minCHANCE! Big, big chance for Valerenga to make it a nervy last few minutes for Liverpool. The Reds fail to deal with a cross into the box and the ball falls for Borven, but the striker drags it wide of the far post from close range. He really should have scored there.
90 minThere will be two minutes of added time at the end of this match.
90 minGOAL! Valerenga 1-4 Liverpool (Raheem Sterling)
90+1 minLovely football from Liverpool as Coutinho plays a nice little ball in to Assaidi, who backheels it to Sterling to sweep home. Either Coutinho or Sterling could have finished that one off, they were queueing up.
90+2 minSAVE! Coutinho tries to get his own name on the scoresheet late on, but Knutsen makes a flying save to deny the playmaker.
7.52pmAnother successful pre-season run out for Liverpool comes to an end as they maintain their 100% record with a comfortable 4-1 win over Valerenga. The result was never really in doubt and, to be honest, the hosts can count themselves lucky that it wasn't significantly more. The Reds hit the bar three times and came up against a goalkeeper in fine form.
7.54pmLuis Alberto opened the scoring with a well-struck volley from the edge of the area, but Valerenga equalised against the run of play just a couple of minutes later when Giancarlo Gonzalez nodded in. Liverpool ensured that they would go into the break ahead with a goal one minute before half time, Iago Aspas tapping in Stewart Downing's cross.
7.56pmThe second half was even more one-sided than the first, but Liverpool could only add another two goals to their tally. The first of these came when Martin Kelly bundled the ball into the net from close range, although replays suggested that it could have come off his arm. The fourth came late on when Raheem Sterling swept home from the edge of the box after good link-up play from Coutinho and Assaidi.
7.58pmAll in all, manager Brendan Rodgers will be very happy with that performance. Yes, they should have scored more, but if that is your main gripe as a manager then you are doing something right. On a day that has been dominated by Luis Suarez's pleas to leave the club, this result and performance will provide welcome relief.
8pmRight, that's it from me this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Liverpool kept up their 100% pre-season record with a 4-1 win over Valerenga. I will leave you with Pascal Lemesre's match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction which, I'm sure, will include questions surrounding the future of Suarez. From me, though, it is goodbye!