|Monday 26th July 2004
Rentschler Field, East Conneticut, USA
LIVERPOOL 5-1 CELTIC
|Benitez record: Played 2 Won 2|
|MATCH REPORT - Liverpool 5-1 Celtic|
New £14million signing Djibril Cisse opened up his Liverpool goal account with an impressive double as his side gained sweet revenge for last year's UEFA Cup exit by dishing out a demoralising demolition of Celtic in the Rentschler Field.
The Frenchman exploited Celtic's dodgy defence as Martin O'Neill's men crashed to their second consecutive ChampionsWorld Series defeat of the tour.
Michael Owen, John Arne Riise and Stephane Henchoz also helped themselves to goals while Craig Beattie added to his weekend double against Chelsea with a consolation for Celtic.
Parkhead assistant manager John Robertson and coach Steve Walford made 10 changes from their poor 4-2 defeat in Seattle on Saturday but Britain-bound manager O'Neill would have been concerned by another haphazard display, particularly at the back.
They handed 17-year-old Scott Cuthbert his first start for the club and the side had a young look about it with 19-year-old goalkeeper David Marshall and 18-year-old Aiden McGeady alongside returning midfielder Alan Thompson and Stanislav Varga.
Liverpool's new manager Rafael Benitez gave Czech striker Milan Baros the chance to stake his claim for a starting place alongside first-choice frontman Owen.
He was linked with a move from Anfield with the arrival of 22-year-old Cisse despite his goals at Euro 2004 but kept Cisse on the bench until the break.
It was no surprise Liverpool started the more dangerous of the sides and Marshall's second-minute mistake almost cost his side an early goal.
The hero in the Nou Camp last season, Marshall fumbled an Owen centre and it bounced off Ulrik Laursen's feet to Harry Kewell but his shot was blocked.
The writing was on the wall and Liverpool did go ahead as early as the fourth minute and there was nothing Marshall could do this time to prevent it.
Dietmar Hamann knocked a free-kick square, after Joos Valgaeren had fouled Igor Biscan, for Riise to run onto and blast a left-foot rocket home from 25 yards.
Celtic finally ventured forward moments later and Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was fortunate not to be punished for making a mess of McGeady's cross.
But that retaliation was short-lived as the English giants doubled their lead in the 17th minute after more shaky defending by the Hoops.
Riise lobbed the ball over the top of a flat-footed Valgaeren and Owen poked the ball over the advancing Marshall and under the post from just outside the box.
Benitez's side should have made it three in the 24th minute when Baros threaded Vladimir Smicer clean through but he had a rush of blood to the head and blasted over.
Kirkland and his defence looked shaky from crosses which would have given some teams hope and John Hartson should have pulled a goal back but he headed McGeady's corner wide.
Benitez made six changes at the break - taking off Hamann, Sami Hyypia, Owen, Baros, Biscan and Smicer - but the bad news for Celtic was that meant the introduction of the likes of Cisse and England midfielder Steven Gerrard.
In contrast, Celtic's four changes, bringing on Didier Agathe, Neil Lennon, Stilian Petrov and Craig Beattie, were hardly as frightening.
And so it was not a surprise when Liverpool easily ripped the Celtic defence apart again in the 47th minute.
Another mistake was pounced upon and Florent Sinama-Pongolle played Cisse through but he crashed a stunning effort against the upright letting Celtic off.
Lennon lost his rag and Kewell was fortunate to recover from an ugly lunge before Kirkland saved Petrov's shot on the turn.
Cisse was showing just why Liverpool splashed out £14million for his services and he grabbed his first goal for the club in the 62nd minute.
He played an intricate ball through to Murphy who returned the ball into Cisse's path for the Frenchman to have the simplest of tap-ins.
Hartson and Stephen Pearson were quickly swapped with Momo Sylla and Ross Wallace, who picked his team-mate out at the back post moments later for him to head wide.
Celtic's defence was in such a bad shape that Stephane Henchoz scored a freak goal in the 68th minute with a shot which bounced off the turf and looped over Marshall.
Cisse should have made it five moments later when he was put clean through but chipped the ball straight into the hands of the young goalkeeper.
Beattie, after his double at the weekend, gave the Glasgow side a consolation in the 72nd minute from the spot after Salif Diao had brought down the youngster.
But Cisse notched his second of the night in the 76th minute when he received Murphy's pass and cut inside Varga before firing low under Marshall.
Celtic knew things could not get any worse and so they brought on another kid in 17-year-old Darren O'Dea for Thompson late on but positives were at a minimum for Celtic.
Liverpool (1st Half) x
Liverpool (2nd Half) x
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|Match Report filed: 27th July 2004|