Liverpool progressed to the play-off stage of the Europa League with a comfortable 3-0 victory over FC Gomel at Anfield.
Fabio Borini, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson got the goals for the Reds as they began to display the signs of a team who are adapting to their managers preferred style of play.
Gomel, to their credit, never stopped trying and worked hard for the full 90 minutes but they were simply outclassed. They can go home with their heads held high and will surely learn from tonigh.
Liverpool improved in every aspect following last week’s lethargic display in Belarus with key players impressing for the Reds, which will definitely make Brendan Rodgers happy.
Pepe Reina – Very little to do but dealt with everything that came his way. Seemed extremely comfortable when he had the ball at his feet and managed to pass the ball very well to those in front of him. Being more involved in the play should help his concentration, something that at time has let him down in the past. 7/10
Glen Johnson – Johnson is an attacking fullback, his first thought is always to get forward and join in with the attacks and tonight he did that fantastic. Constantly making himself available, frequently bursting down the line and infield, Johnson had a big impact on the game tonight. Showed an excellent understanding with Downing on the right flank. Also managed to score himself a rather spectacular goal which will give him a confidence boost as he heads into the league campaign. 8/10
Martin Skrtel – Commanding in the air, sure footed on the ground. The Big Slovak looked back to his form of last season tonight, thanks in part to the return of Daniel Agger alongside him. Used the ball well and always made himself available for the midfield players if they needed an outlet. Also covered very well when Glen Johnson went rampaging forward. 7/10
Daniel Agger – Flawless. Agger’s been at the centre of a whirlwind of speculation as a result of interest from Premier League champions Manchester City and could easily have been distracted going into this match. That was not the case as Agger didn’t put a single foot wrong defensively, passed the ball excellently and got forward as often as possible to add an extra man in midfield. If his important to the team was ever in doubt, the impact he had on Skrtel and Enrique tonight should put those doubts to bed. 8/10
Jose Enrique – Enrique has come in for a lot of criticism after his poor form in the second half of last season as well as some extremely poor displays in pre-season. He looked back to the form that made him a fan favourite in the first half of last season. He passed the ball quickly and accurately, defended well and got forward at every opportunity. 7/10
Steven Gerrard – A week ago he gave one of the worst performances of his Liverpool career. Tonight he showed why he’s still one of the world’s best midfielders. Gerrard was extremely influential for the Reds tonight as he involved himself in every attack, linked well with the front three and the overlapping fullbacks and worked hard when Liverpool lost the ball. Also tucked home his 150th Liverpool goal. 8/10
Jonjo Shelvey – Worked hard and showed plenty of energy, grit and determination. Wasteful with the ball at times as he often took a touch too many and was forced to rush his pass, or sometimes he simply tried to be a bit too clever. Has added tough tackling to his game for this season but he’d be well advised to learn how to tackle properly as he tends to lunge in needlessly. 6/10
Lucas Leiva – Injury? What injury? On his Anfield return after a long spell on the sidelines Lucas showed no signs of rust as he ran himself into the ground in a trademark tireless display. Won tackles all day and used the ball smartly while providing a shield in front of the Liverpool defense. Really doesn’t look to have lost a step and that’s a huge boost for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool as he will play a key role for the Reds this season 8/10
Stewart Downing – Downing had a terrible season last time around and was seen as one of the players who epitomized Liverpool’s disappointing season. Rodgers seems to have had a word with him and shown some confidence in him and that confidence has certainly made a difference to the player. Downing looked back to his Aston Villa form as he constantly probed and threatened the Gomel defense. He linked very well with Glen Johnson, Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard at different times throughout the match. Could be an important part of the squad if he can continue to display good form. 7/10
Luis Suarez – There is a reason Liverpool fans sing that they just can’t get enough. Suarez was absolutely outstanding tonight and was involved in everything good that Liverpool produced on the night. His movement, trickery, work-rate, cleverness and desire to succeed tormented the Gomel defense from the first whistle to the last. He clearly enjoys this lone striker/false 9 position and is perfectly suited to it. Suarez is key to Liverpool’s chances in domestic and European competition this season and if tonight is a sign of things to come, Suarez is in for a big season. Deserved a goal but was denied by two fantastic saves from the Gomel goalkeeper. Man of the Match without question. 9/10
Fabio Borini – On his home debut for Liverpool, Borini managed to bag his first goal with a well taken volley in the first half. His movement was fantastic throughout the game as was his work-rate and attitude. Signs of a good understanding with Luis Suarez are already there and he could prove to be an excellent buy for Brendan Rodgers. 7.5/10
Charlie Adam on at 75 mins replacing Jonjo Shelvey - Got involved in the match straight away with two excellent passes straight after coming on. Good use of the ball. 6/10
Jamie Carragher on at 75mins replacing Martin Skrtel - Calm and collected. Nothing to do defensively but passed the ball well on his 701st Liverpool appearance 6/10
Jay Spearing on at 85mins replacing Lucas Leiva – Not on long enough to make an impact. N/A