Good morning. With around an hour until kickoff at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Liverpool
have just announced their starting lineup for this morning's game. Let's take a look at the team news...
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI:
Jones, Johnson, Skrtel, Wisdom, Enrique, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Ibe, Sterling, Borini
SUBS: Mignolet, Kelly, Coates, Agger, Flanagan, Spearing, Lucas, Downing, Alberto, Aspas, Suarez, Robinson, Assaidi.
So the big news is that Suarez will start on the bench for Liverpool. However, Brendan Rodgers
has already said that the Uruguayan will play today, so expect to see him in the second half. Kolo Toure misses out with a tight calf, while Philippe Coutinho picked up an injury in training yesterday. The club says that neither injury is serious.
MELBOURNE VICTORY STARTING XI: Coe, Ansell, Broxham, Nabbout, Celeski, Jeggo, Pain, Makarounas, Leijer, Galloway, Geria
It's an all-Australian starting lineup for the home side. Young forwards Connor Pain
and Andrew Nabbout
have both been with the club for less than a year, but have both shown talent in front of goal.
It will be a big occasion for Victory's young squad today. The team have switched their 56,000-capacity Docklands Stadium for the 100,000-seater Melbourne Cricket Ground, with at least 95,000 supporters expected. Victory have the highest attendances in the A-League, but that will be nothing compared to the crowd expected for this encounter.
Ahead of Liverpool's first ever game in Australia, captain Steven Gerrard
told the club's website: "When you're growing up playing in Europe and around the world, you want to play in as many of the big and special stadiums as you can. This is certainly right up there. It's going to be fantastic. The capacity is around 100,000 which is huge. It'll be an experience and it'll be packed to the rafters, which will be incredible."
Melbourne manager Ange Postecoglou
has admitted that he is a big fan of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. According to ABC News
, the former Australia international said: "I've been a long distance admirer of the way his football team play for sure. I'm hoping to get a little moment with him, with the understanding that he's got a really busy time, and I wouldn't want to buy into that too much. I'm sure I'll get a moment with him, and whatever it is, I'll cherish the words."
After today, Liverpool have just one match remaining on their pre-season tour. Brendan Rodgers' side will take on Thailand on Sunday, before returning to England for a home friendly against Olympiacos.
The A-League season does not resume until October, but Victory have already been busy during their pre-season, beating Richmond and Port Melbourne, while drawing with Bentley. This game is their last scheduled fixture until September 14, when they will face fellow A-League side Brisbane Roar.
Two more Premier League sides are in pre-season action this morning, as Tottenham Hotspur face Sunderland in the Asia Cup. You can also follow updates
of that game with Sports Mole
Unsurprisingly, the bookmakers are favouring the Anfield side ahead of this game, with some companies offering odds as long as 14-1 for Melbourne. While they may have a fairly youthful attack, Victory have plenty of experience at the back, and will look to make things difficult for Liverpool in the opening stages.
Both teams have been out on the pitch warming up for today's game, and the ground is filling up quickly with fans of both sides. Despite the game taking place in Melbourne, there are plenty of red shirts in the crowd supporting the visiting side.
Let's have a quick look at the weather conditions ahead of kickoff. Obviously, it's evening in Melbourne at the moment, and temperatures are cooling to around 12C with little chance of rain. Steven Gerrard has been complaining of blisters because of the heat in Indonesia, so the conditions should be more favourable for the Premier League side at this match.
With just a few minutes until the kickoff, the atmosphere is really building in the MCG as Liverpool fans from across Australia make themselves heard. The club's Twitter account has christened the ground the "Kop Down Under".
The players are in the tunnel and about to head out onto the pitch.
The two sides are going through the usual pre-match rituals, handshakes, team photographs and so on. Meanwhile, "You'll Never Walk Alone" booms around the stadium as kickoff approaches, with the best part of 100,000 fans singing along.
Melbourne get the first half underway.
Liverpool have possession in the opening minutes of the game, with Gerrard, Wisdom and Skrtel just keeping the ball at the back. Ibe tries to break forward for the Premier League side, but are pushed back by Broxham. Both teams just look to be finding their feet in the opening stages of this match.
Gerrard drops back to work with Wisdom and Skrtel again. Skrtel plays a long ball through to Johnson, who finds Henderson on the edge of the penalty area. However, Jason Geria clears the danger for Victory, but Liverpool are on the attack again, and Sterling has an early shot of goal, with his effort going well wide.
Scott Galloway wins the ball for Melbourne, picking out James Jeggo with a well-weighted pass out wide, but Skrtel quickly takes the ball away from the 21-year-old. Liverpool have had the majority of the ball so far, but the home side certainly look keen to attack when the opportunity arises.
After some strong play in midfield, Melbourne break into Liverpool's penalty area for the first time. Connor Pain
looks to pull the ball back towards his teammates after beating Joe Allen, but he was unable to find Nabbout and Jeggo.
A brilliant ball forward finds Pain again. Johnson tries to get the ball away from the teenage winger, but he needs help from Joe Allen to clear the danger. After a quiet start, Victory have really come alive in the last five minutes.
Melbourne string together a series of passes in midfield while looking for a way back into the Liverpool box. Makarounas chips the ball high towards Nabbout, but the striker is ruled offside.
CHANCE! Borini looks for his first shot at goal, but the ball is put behind for a corner. Gerrard delivers the ball, but it's initially cleared. However, Sterling is waiting just outside the penalty area and tries to curl the ball in, just missing the target.
Borini wins the ball again and looks for Gerrard on the edge of the box, but a poor pass finds Broxham. The visitors quickly get the ball again, with Ibe breaking into the penalty area this time, but once again Victory make the clearance.
SAVE! Brad Jones is called into action for the first time, as a mistake from Enrique in the Reds' penalty area sets up Nabbout for a half-volleyed effort at the Liverpool goal. However, the Australian goalkeeper is able to keep out his strike.
SAVE! Liverpool go on the counter immediately and almost find the back of the net, with Gerrard hitting it with his first touch from the edge of the penalty area, but Victory keeper Nathan Coe is able to nudge the captain's effort wide.
After the flurry of efforts at either end of the pitch, the game just seemed to have calmed down a little, with both teams keeping the ball in midfield at the moment, with neither side really pressing towards goal.
CHANCE! Sterling finally helps Liverpool to break again, finding Joe Allen in the box, but the Wales international scuffs his finish, giving Coe an easy stop in the Melbourne goal.
Geria wins the ball out wide, before passing it back in towards Jeggo. However, Melbourne can't find a way into the Liverpool penalty area, as Nabbout and then Geria both pass the ball back towards midfield.
GOAL! Melbourne Victory 0-1 Liverpool (Gerrard)
From nowhere, Liverpool break, with Joe Allen sliding the ball in towards Borini and Gerrard. It's the Liverpool captain who claims the ball, calmly slotting it past Coe to give his team the lead after just over half an hour.
The goal seems to have lifted Liverpool a lift. After a slow build up, Ibe manages to get the better of Broxham to deliver the ball to Gerrard, but the Liverpool captain's effort goes well high.
CHANCE! With the back four all over the place, Henderson goes for goal from around 25 yards out. It's a brilliant strike from the 23-year-old, but Coe is able to palm the ball away.
Liverpool are on the attack again as Gerrard backheels the ball to Henderson, who passes out wide to Ibe. The teenager tries to deliver the ball into the box, but Melbourne get organised at the back and block the danger. The Premier League side clearly look keen to double their lead before half time.
CHANCE! Ibe gets the ball inside the penalty area and tries to toe-poke it in from close range. Coe is on hand to save the effort, but the Liverpool teenager is ruled offside anyway. Liverpool won't want to stop at half time given their dominance in the last 20 minutes!
CHANCE! Some brilliant footwork from Sterling sets up Gerrard for a volley on the edge of the area, but the ball is always rising, and climbs just over the crossbar.
HALF TIME: Melbourne Victory 0-1 Liverpool
So, Liverpool take a one-goal lead into the half-time break at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in their pre-season friendly with Melbourne Victory
It was an entertaining first 45 minutes, with the A-League side causing plenty of problems for the visitors in the opening 30 minutes, before a clinical finish from Steve Gerrard signaled the start of a dominant spell for the Premier League club.
Gerrard had a couple of chances to add to his goal count, while Jordan Ibe
, Raheem Sterling
and Fabio Borini also had efforts on goal, but Nathan Coe made a series of solid saves for the home side.
Connor Pain and Andrew Nabbout
have looked Melbourne's best chance of a goal, linking up well up front. What Victory lack in age and experience, they've made up for with their youthful enthusiasm. With a bench full of teenagers, there should be more of the same to come in the second half.
Liverpool should be making a string of changes ahead of the second half, with 13 substitutes named on the bench, including striker Luis Suarez
, who is yet to play for the Reds this pre-season.
The players are heading back out ready for the second half. We've had no details of any changes to either lineup yet, but that is likely to change.
Liverpool get the second half underway at the MCG.
Rather unusually, it does look like both sides are sticking with their first-half lineups. It's Liverpool who are on the attack first, with Skrtel charging down the right-hand wing before picking out Henderson in midfield.
CHANCE! Liverpool win an early corner, with Gerrard curls in. Skrtel gets his head to the ball and it looks to be on target, but Coe just gets his fingertips to the ball to tip it over. The goalscorer whips the ball in for a second time, but this time it's a comfortable clearance for victory.
It looks like a Liverpool change may be coming sooner rather than later, as Luis Suarez has removed his tracksuit bottoms and it starting to tape his shin pads in place, much to the delight of the crowd.
A loose pass from Gerrard allows Melbourne to force their first corner of the match. Makarounas takes the corner, but it's punched away by Jones. Victory immediately look to get the ball back into the box, forcing Sterling to put the ball behind for another corner, but this time Geria heads it over to give Liverpool a goal kick. Meanwhile, Suarez and Lucas are both warming up on the sideline.
CHANCE! Ibe and Gerrard work together in midfield, before Ibe picks out Henderson with a superb ball forward, but the midfielder's shot lacks power, and is a comfortable save for Coe.
Sterling shows some brilliant pace down the left-hand side, but Broxham is on hand to block the teenager's path into the box. Henderson tries to get onto Melbourne's clearance, but he's unable to control the ball. Victory still look strong at the back.
CHANCE! On the counter attack, Connor Pain gets the ball inside the penalty area for Melbourne and tries to take his shot early, but Skrtel just reaches it in time to put it behind for a corner, which Gerrard clears.
Gerrard tries to put the ball in for Sterling, but Geria is back to stop the pass. Borini tries to get the ball back in, but Coe comes off his line to claim it.
CHANCE! A long ball forward from Sterling finds Borini on the edge of the box. The Italian is being closely marked, but he manages to make the turn and tries to whip it in, but Coe makes yet another stop.
CHANCE! Melbourne break and Pain quickly finds space in the Liverpool box as he looks for the equaliser, but Jones makes a solid save to keep the ball out of the net. That was probably Melbourne's best chance in this game.
CHANCE! Enrique makes a blistering run down the wing before crossing it in to Borini, who goes for the spectacular with an overhead kick, but it goes just wide.
SUB! Lucas comes on in place of Steven Gerrard, who is given a standing ovation by the crowd. The Brazilian also takes over as captain for Liverpool.
Liverpool win a free kick from just outside the penalty area. Johnson takes it, but fails to find any of his teammates in the box. Melbourne clear it as far as Sterling, who can only smash the ball well high of the crossbar. Rodgers has plenty more substitutes warming up on the sideline.
CHANCE! Borini has looked very keen to get his name on the score board in this second half, and he gets another chance, this time drilling the ball in low, and just missing the post.
Plenty of tracksuits being peeled off on the Liverpool bench, as it looks like Rodgers is preparing to make mass changes to the visitors' lineup.
CHANCE! Pain makes a brilliant run through the centre of the pitch before looking to cross it to Nabbout, but Wisdom is in the right place to make the block, clearing the danger for Liverpool.
SUB! Liverpool do indeed make a series of changes, among them Suarez replaces Sterling. The Uruguayan is immediately on the attack, winning a corner for the Reds.
MORE SUBS! Also among the Liverpool changes, Daniel Agger takes over from Andre Widsom, Sebastian Coates replaces Martin Skrtel, Martin Kelly is on for Glen Johnson, Jack Jose Enrique makes was for Jack Robinson and Luis Alberto comes on for Jordan Henderson.
Victory look to test the new look Liverpool lineup by going on the attack straight away. Geria makes a superb cross in towards Pain, but the teenager is beaten to the ball by Agger. Postecoglou is yet to make any changes to his Melbourne lineup.
SUBS! Just confirmation of a few more of Liverpool's earlier changes. Mignolet has replaced Jones in goal, while Aspas is on for Ibe and Borini was replaces by Spearing.
Since all the changes, Melbourne have definitely looked the more attacking side. However, Suarez goes on the charge for the visitors, but he lacks support from his teammates, and the ball is comfortably cleared by the hosts.
SUB! Victory finally make their first change, taking off Liverpool fan Andrew Nabbout to bring on midfielder Francesco Stella.
CHANCE! Aspas gets his first sight at goal, but it's put behind for a corner. Downing delivers it into the box, and it's Agger who gets his head to it, but Coe makes a superb stop to keep the deficit to just one goal.
SUB! It's another change for Melbourne, as 18-year-old Christopher Cristaldo come on in place of Jesse Makarounas
Lucas wins the ball in midfield and picks out Kelly as Liverpool look to secure the win with a second goal late on at the MCG, but Melbourne are continuing to defend well, leaving few gaps for the visitors. There will be two minutes of stoppage time.
CHANCE! Suarez gets the ball again and finds Luis Alberto out wide. Broxham concedes a free kick but Liverpool can't create anything from it. Suarez wins the ball back in midfield and this time picks out Aspas, who effort it saved by Coe.
GOAL! Melbourne Victory 0-2 Liverpool (Aspas)
Suarez thread the ball back in, leaving Aspas with a simple tap in from point blank range to wrap up the match with just seconds remaining.
FULL TIME: Melbourne Victory 0-2 Liverpool
Well, it certainly wasn't Liverpool's most convincing performance this season, but a win is a win for Brendan Rodgers' side as they maintain their 100% record this pre-season.
Melbourne Victory will feel hard done by to have conceded a second goal late in the game. The A-League side had had chances to equalise, with 19-year-old Connor Pain putting in a superb performance up front.
Well that's all from the MCG this afternoon, but stick around for the final 15 minutes of Tottenham's game
against Sunderland, which will be followed by Manchester City's tie
with South China. Thanks for joining me this lunchtime, goodbye.