Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace: Premier League Asia Trophy
Liverpool will face Leicester City in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy after defeating Crystal Palace 2-0 in the Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Mohammed Salah provided a glimpse of what is to come from him this season as he produced a strong display – constantly causing problems for Palace’s back four with his pace and trickery.
Jordan Henderson also caught the eye with his range of passing and there were stalwart displays from youngsters Ben Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.
However, it was Dominic Solanke who stole the show as his powerful long-range strike after 61 minutes was enough to give Liverpool a well-deserved lead.
Divock Origi finished off the game when he poked in Liverpool’s second to secure a final against Leicester on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp selected a 25-man squad to travel to Hong Kong which excluded Kevin Stewart, Emre Can and recently departed Lucas Leiva.
After picking up a victory against Tranmere Rovers, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Wigan Athletic so Klopp will be pleased to see his side return to winning ways.
As expected, Liverpool dominated possession in the opening exchanges and the crowd showed their appreciation for the Reds’ technical ability.
Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino found themselves in good pockets of space in and around the opposition box but weren’t able to produce many chances in the opening 10 minutes.
The first shot on goal came after 12 minutes from Sturridge following positive link-up play between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Woodburn on the right.
Alexander-Arnold produced a low-driven cross to find Liverpool’s centre-forward but Sturridge’s shot was deflected wide by a Palace defender.
Liverpool continued to press but on the counter, Wilfried Zaha started to cause problems for the Reds’ defence as he continually looked to beat his opponents.
Zaha’s trickery opened up space for Christian Benteke in the 14th minute and the former Reds’ striker danced into the box before Gomez smartly stepped in to take the ball away.
He then found Salah on the right and the new signing sped down the wing, beating his opponent before delivering a teasing cross into the box but Sturridge was unable to get underneath it.
Palace looked dangerous down the right-hand side on occasions through Andros Townsend and the England international almost provided an assist for Keshi Anderson shortly after the first drinks break.
They were presented with another opportunity when Adam Lallana lost possession just outside the Liverpool box and Benteke drew a foul.
Luka Milivojevic’s free kick was hit well over the wall though and it didn’t trouble Simon Mignolet in goal. Salah then had another opportunity to break for Liverpool but it came to nothing.
Jordan Henderson and Ben Woodburn controlled the midfield in the first half, constantly switching play and drawing in defenders as Sturridge, Salah and Firmino looked to run in behind.
Liverpool’s forwards continued to cause problems but Benteke almost broke the deadlock shortly before half-time when he was inches away from a free header during a set-piece.
It was all square at half-time so Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Jon Flanagan and Ragnar Klavan were all introduced for the second half as Liverpool had a new-look back four.
Marko Grujic, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho, Ryan Kent, Dominic Solanke and Georginio Wijnaldum followed shortly as Klopp made all 10 substitutions.
Zaha continued to squeeze and wiggle out of challenges but it was Coutinho who created the first chance of the second-half when he cut in from the left to make an opening for himself. His shot curled towards the right corner but it was always going high.
After 61 minutes, Liverpool eventually broke the deadlock when Solanke found space on the edge of the area and he fired a powerful, low strike into the bottom corner.
Palace immediately mounted an attack up the other end but Solanke’s defensive duties helped set up Ryan Kent who charged forward on the counter.
Kent’s through ball was looking for Origi but the Belgian pushed off too early and was caught off-side in what could have been a very good one-on-one opportunity.
Zaha looked to carry Palace forward but a nasty tackle from Marko Grujic showed an aggressive side to the young Serbian.
Palace made several changes after 76 minutes, including the introduction of Martin Kelly who was a former full-back for Liverpool.
It was comfortable for the Reds as they looked to close out the match but Origi had other ideas as he fired in a second goal for Liverpool in the 79th minute.
Milner was involved in the build up but it was Coutinho’s blocked chance which left the ball at Origi’s feet for him to poke into the net.
The game fizzled out towards the end as Liverpool’s dominance was comfortable but Klopp will be pleased with the performance from many on show in the 90 minutes.
The final will take place on Saturday afternoon between Liverpool and Leicester City.