Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent preseason record with a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard and Iago Aspas, with Luis Suarez coming off the bench to make his Reds return.
It was Suarez’s first club appearance since being banned for 10 matches for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and came on a day when Arsenal are believed to have bid over £40m for his services.
The visitors took the lead when Gerrard side-footed past Nathan Coe after being fed by Joe Allen but Melbourne responded well and almost equalised in the second half when Connor Pain’s fierce shot was awkwardly turned away by Brad Jones.
Liverpool finally sealed the win in injury time when Aspas tapped home Suarez’s cutback.
Suarez dominated the pre-match build up with Brendan Rodgers confirming the striker would feature in the clash but it was the reported bid from Arsenal that caused the biggest stir as the striker took his place on the bench.
Close to 100,000 supporters crammed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground and delivered a rousing performance of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before kick-off, the stadium awash with red shirts and scarves.
And the visitors started brightly, Raheem Sterling going close with a left-footed drive that sailed wide.
The tempo soon petered out but the hosts almost grabbed the lead when Andrew Nabbout wrong-footed Jose Enrique before firing a low drive which was pushed clear by Jones.
The scare sparked Liverpool into life with Gerrard going close soon after with a strike from distance after being teed up by Sterling, and he grabbed the opening goal soon after.
The Reds skipper cleverly threw a dummy which allowed Allen to drive at the Melbourne goal before he laid it back across to Gerrard who side-footed home from just inside the area.
The half then petered out with Melbourne happy to spray the ball about without probing the opposition backline and Liverpool only going close to adding a second when Gerrard’s injury time shot flew over the bar.
The visitors almost doubled their lead immediately after the restart but Martin Skrtel’s looping header was tipped over by Coe.
Fabio Borini went close with a volley and audacious bicycle kick and Connor Pain fired straight at Jones when well placed, before a host of Liverpool changes – including Suarez – altered the match’s complexion.
Chances were at a premium as the new look Reds side adjusted to the match slowly and struggled to threaten their opponent’s goal.
Substitute Daniel Agger almost added a second with a firm header late on that was saved by Coe before Suarez belatedly got in on the action, weaving through the Melbourne defence to find Aspas who had the simplest of finishes.