Liverpool were outclassed by Lyon as the French side cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory in the Dubai Super Cup.
Jurgen Klopp named a strong first XI for the mid-season friendly, with virtually every first-team player not on international duty featuring in the side.
The Reds asserted their dominance almost instantly, capitalising on a defensive error and allowing Mohamed Salah to tee up Fabio Carvalho to finish into an empty net.
Liverpool’s stars looked slightly rusty, as was to be expected having gone a month without playing a match, but the quality was still there to see in the first half as they looked a cut above their French opponents.
Lyon struggled to create meaningful chances of their own, but came close in the 35th minute when Moussa Dembele drew a save from Caoimhin Kelleher with a fierce drive.
But this was a friendly match, and there was always going to be scope for Lyon to get back into the game courtesy of some sloppy play from a rusty defender. Sure enough, Kelleher and Andy Robertson got their lines mixed up when dealing with a long ball over the top, allowing Alexandre Lacazette to burst past them and level the scores.
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Liverpool’s control over proceedings began to diminish in the second half, the game growing more stop-and-start due to a surprising number of fouls on both sides.
Klopp made five substitutions at the break and another five just after the hour, and perhaps the lack of cohesion in this new set of players was Liverpool’s downfall as moments later they found themselves behind.
Lyon substitute Tete dribbled masterfully through the Liverpool defence, dancing past multiple players before teeing up fellow substitute Bradley Barcola to score.
Liverpool’s youngsters looked out of their depth, and things went from bad to worse when Lacazette pounced on a rebound to smash home a third goal after Adrian had made a good save.
The dominance the Reds showed in the first half hour of the match seemed a distant memory as the minutes ticked away, Lyon cutting through them time and time again. Only the heroics of Adrian, who had replaced Kelleher at half-time, prevented the scoreline from becoming even uglier.
There was still time for a twist in the tale at the end of the 90 minutes, as the rules of the Dubai Super Cup stipulate that each match ends with a penalty shootout regardless of the final score.
However, there was to be no reprieve for Liverpool as Lyon scored all five of their penalties, while Calvin Ramsey missed from the spot to hand the French side the victory.
Liverpool played this game at the pace of a friendly, and are still without the likes of Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho, among others. Even so, this was far from an encouraging performance and Klopp is unlikely to have been impressed by the academy talent at his disposal.
The club will take on AC Milan in another friendly on December 16, before returning to competitive action against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup six days later.
GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – 5/10 – Didn’t have much to do throughout the first half, but still fluffed his lines slightly to allow Lacazette to score. Subbed off at half-time.
RB: James Milner – 6/10 – Played a couple of nice passes over the Lyon defence to launch attacks and defended fairly well.
CB: Joe Gomez – 5/10 – Got turned too easily by Dembele and Lacazette, and still looks a long way from the player he was in 2019.
CB: Joel Matip – 7/10 – One of the more assured players in the Liverpool back line.
LB: Andy Robertson – 6/10 – Looked energetic down the left flank, but couldn’t supply the end product and was at fault for Lacazette’s goal.
CM: Stefan Bajcetic – 7/10 – Added plenty of bite to Liverpool’s midfield, even if he did pick up a yellow card for his troubles. A good cameo from the youngster.
CM: Thiago – 6/10 – Tidy if unspectacular from the veteran midfielder.
CM: Harvey Elliott – N/A – Had a fairly quiet opening half an hour before being substituted for Frauendorf. Liverpool fans will hope Elliott hasn’t picked up a serious problem.
RW: Mohamed Salah – 6/10 – Looked a little off the pace. Pressed reasonably well but his touch and end product were lacking.
LW: Fabio Carvalho – 7/10 – Popped up with a goal in the opening minute to get Liverpool off to the perfect start.
ST: Roberto Firmino – 6/10 – Like Salah, Firmino offered plenty in terms of industry but considerably less in terms of end product.
Melkamu Frauendorf (29′ for Elliott) – 5/10
Adrian (46′ for Kelleher) – 6/10
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (46′ for Frauendorf) – 6/10 – Crucial minutes for Oxlade-Chamberlain as he looks to prove that his Liverpool career is salvageable.
Calvin Ramsey (46′ for Bajcetic) – 5/10
Bobby Clark (46′ for Carvalho) – 5/10
Konstantinos Tsimikas (46′ for Robertson) – 6/10
Nathaniel Philips (46′ for Matip) – 5/10
Naby Keita (62′ for Thiago) – 7/10 – Energetic in midfield, Liverpool supporters will be glad to see Keita up and running again.
Layton Stewart (62′ for Gomez) – N/A
Ben Doak (62′ for Firmino) – 6/10
Dominic Corness (62′ for Salah) – 5/10
Luke Chambers (62′ for Milner) – 5/10
Jake Cain (74′ for Stewart) – N/A