Mohamed Salah celebrates with team-mates at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Tommy Dickson/INPHO
High five

Friendly delight as Liverpool slam five past sorry Napoli before 51,000 supporters in Dublin

Jurgen Klopp’s side made light work of Napoli with a comfortable win on Saturday.

Liverpool 5

Napoli 0

Aaron Gallagher reports from the Aviva Stadium

LIVERPOOL MADE IT six pre-season wins from eight on a balmy evening in Dublin on Saturday, with James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno helping Jurgen Klopp’s side to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Napoli.

Lansdowne Road crackled and boomed thanks to a capacity crowd of over 51,000 which roarded in a sea of red to cheer their Premier League stars on as they wrapped up pre-season preparations with a penultimate victory over last season’s Serie A runners-up.

Blue shirts were scant throughout the crowd for the friendly, with tickets selling out for the match almost immediately weeks ago. From the red cover of the matchday programme to the raucous cheers accompanying the announcement of each Liverpool name before kick-off, there was seemingly only one show in town.

Lorenzo Insigne takes a corner Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Klopp and Salah received the loudest appreciation from the crowd before proceedings got underway. But so too did Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who was making his debut for his new club following a £65 million move from AS Roma.

The most expensive goalkeeper in the world enjoyed a quiet opening half an hour to his career as a Liverpool player, however, with his team-mates taking control of the game both in terms of possession and attacking intent from the offset.

Star names littered both teams’ starting XI’s, with the presence of names like Salah, Roberto Firmino, Marek Hamsik and Kalidou Koulibaly making it an entertaining affair for the crowd of paying spectators when so many pre-season affairs can fail to thrill on the field of play.

A fast-paced and engaging opening 20 minutes saw Klopp’s men race into a two goal lead thanks to early first-half goals from Milner and Wijnaldum. The England midfielder was a key feature of Liverpool’s road to the Champions League final last season, providing more assists than any other player in European competition.

But the 32-year-old demonstrated after just four minutes that he was capable of impressing with his shooting boots on. A clever cut-back from Sadio Mane laid the ball on a silver platter for Milner to have a rare pop at goal, and he did not need a second invitation.

Slicing the ball with the outside of his boot, he found the back of the net with a sweet strike which put Liverpool into an ascendancy they never really looked like letting go of. That lead was doubled just five minutes afterwards as Dutch international Wijnaldum beat Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis to the ball with a clever header.

Fabian Ruiz with Mohamed Salah Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

A routine corner was poorly cleared at the first attempt, leading the ball into the path of goalscorer Milner on the edge of the area. He turned provider with an inviting cross which Karnezis half-heartedly attempted to clear before Wijnaldum notched a headed effort into the ground and into the back of the net.

Arriving to take the number one spot from Loris Karius following a pair of disastrous mistakes in May’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, there are high expectations on Alisson to succeed.

The 25-year-old received warm applause any time he touched the ball with his feet playing the ball out from the back, yet it wasn’t until after 20 minutes that he was called into action to perform a save with his hands.

Insigne scored 14 goals during another impressive season in Naples last year, and he was the first man in blue to really stake a claim at trying to draw the scores level — curling a pinpoint effort towards the bottom corner which sprang the Liverpool goalkeeper into action to maintain his clean sheet.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side never looked too imposing in the final third and the Reds dominance only deepened further after the half-time interval.

Salah, who scored an impressive 44 goals in all competitions last season, gave the crowd what they came to see to put the game’s result beyond any measurable doubt. Snapping up possession following a contested header inside the box, the Egyptian winger curled an audacious effort into the top corner for 3-0 to send the crowd into a frenzy of celebration.

Jurgen Klopp reacts after his side scored Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

The evening only went from bad to worse for Ancelotti’s men as two more from the boots of substitutes Sturridge and Moreno made it a far more convincing scoreline.

Sturridge will be eyeing towards reclaiming more first team football in 2018/19 following a year spent away at West Brom. His deft finish into the bottom corner reminded Liverpool supporters of the killer edge which made him one of the Premier League’s elite strikers only a handful of seasons ago.

Moreno, too, will be seeking many more minutes next season after a year spent in the shadow of Andy Robertson.

The Spaniard was on the pitch 15 minutes when he hammered an emphatic left-footed effort past goalkeeper Karnezis to make it 5-0 and round off an equally emphatic win for Liverpool ahead of Tuesday’s final friendly at home to Torino.

LIVERPOOL: Alisson; Clyne (Alexander-Arnold 62), Gomez (Phillips 77), Van Dijk, Robertson (Moreno 62); Milner (Fabinho 56), Wijnaldum (Jones 62), Keita (Origi 71); Salah (Sturridge 62), Mane, Firmino (Xherdan Shaqiri 46).

NAPOLI: Karnezis, Hysaj, Albiol (Nikola Maksimovic 59), Koulibaly, Luperto (Rui 46); Allan, Hamsik, Fabian; Callejon, Milik, Insigne.

REFEREE: Robert Hennessy (Limerick).

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