Tuesday 1st August 4:00pm @ Zurich, Switzerland

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GOALS: Salatic 13, Blumer 27

TEAM: Reina, Riise, Hyypia (captain), Paletta, Hobbs, Gonzalez, Zenden, Sissoko, Pennant, Anderson, Bellamy.

Subs - Carson, Gerrard, Carragher, Kromkamp, Traore, Crouch, Garcia

Att: 5,500
Ref: Rene Rogalla

Grasshopper Zurich: Coltori, , Schwesler, Rak, Pinto, Sutter, Voger, Salatic, Leon, Pavlovic, Blumer.

Subs - Djukic, Seoane, Toure, Renggli, Klinger, Leskovci, Scheindorfer, Mbala, Cabanas, Jassy, Dos Santos

none yet

Gonzalez on the move
(Propaganda Photo)


A week away from their crucial Champions League qualifier, with so much money riding on reaching the group stages, Liverpool must be relieved to find Steven Gerrard recovered from his World Cup misery.

The Anfield captain played his first 30 minutes of football since the World Cup exit in Gelsenkirchen today.

And he looked to have recovered from that nightmare, and his failed part in the penalty shoot-out defeat to Portugal, to suggest he will be firing on all cylinders next Wednesday when Maccabi Haifa arrive at Anfield for the third qualifying round first leg.

Peter Crouch and Jamie Carragher also returned for the first time since Germany 2006 and equally looked to have discovered their form ahead of Liverpool's European examination.

Liverpool lost this friendly in Zurich, their second defeat in four days, but Benitez will not be bothered too much about that, only that his big guns are back and almost ready.

As for the match - played in front of 5,500 fans - heavily-depleted Liverpool found themselves two goals behind at the break at the Hardturm Stadium and never recovered.

Benitez had Fabio Aurelio, Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia and Steve Finnan all nursing injuries and was concerned enough about the situation to leave Gerrard, Crouch and Carragher on the bench.

He could ill-afford any more injuries ahead of next Wednesday's third qualifying round home leg against Maccabi Haifa.

And after Mark Gonzalez and Craig Bellamy failed to find the net early on, the Swiss side - three games into their league season and unbeaten - scored twice in 13 minutes.

The first came on 14 minutes when giant midfielder Veroljub Salatic saw a powerful, downward header elude Jose Reina, also playing his first game since the World Cup, before bouncing high into the net.

And with Liverpool playing three centre-backs and Sami Hyypia nursing youngsters Gabriel Paletta and Jack Hobbs through a difficult spell, Grasshopper scored again.

It came in the 27th minute when Paletta made a mess of a back pass, playing it blind to Reina, allowing David Blumer to steal in and score from an acute angle.

The need for a change of system and personal saw Crouch on at the break, along with Jan Kromkamp at right-back and Djimi Traore on the left of defence. Gonzalez, Paletta and Anderson all went off.

Then on the hour Gerrard arrived - in place of Bellamy - and almost scored inside a minute following a fine pass to Pennant and a drive from the resulting cross.

Three minutes later Carragher replaced Hyypia and Liverpool were looking more effective.

Gerrard set up Crouch in the 70th minute - but the England striker was offside.

Then Gerrard volley wide from a John Arne Riise cross, before Crouch had another effort beaten away.

Gerrard was then put through by Crouch two minutes from time, but he was unable to find the net from 10 yards.

The second period was so much better, Liverpool showing signs of movement, pace and quality passing.

The side are beginning to take shape ahead of the crunch with Haifa - with a full-strength side expected to take the field on Friday for the friendly against Mainz in Germany.


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Match Report filed: 1st August 2006