Liverpool FC took on AS Roma at Boston's iconic Fenway Park for the second time in 3 years tonight. With Liverpool's owner also owning the Red Sox, and Roma's president being a native of Boston, there's no better place for these teams to play a friendly than under the Green Monster at Fenway. I really enjoyed the atmosphere when I attended their match in the summer of 2012. The crowd was energetic and excited, and I'm sure that was the case tonight as well.
The affair started with a moment of silence where Kenny Dalglish released 96 red balloons in memory of the 96 fans who never came home from Hillsborough. It was a touching and emotional lead in to what ended up being a bit of a dull first half. With both teams early into their preseason campaigns, it's understandable that the first half was less than stellar. The first 30 minutes were fairly even, with neither team taking control or posing much of a threat. Roma then slowly began to build momentum, and had the majority of the possession for the final ten minutes of the half. The only real chance came in the 33rd minute when a streaking Ashley Cole whipped a cross into the middle of the box for Francesco Totti who could only get a knee on the ball and send it wide.
The second half proved much more interesting, with both teams generating some promising attacks. Philippe Coutinho attempted a pair of long range shots in the opening minutes of the half, but both ended up going wide right. Rickie Lambert had the next couple of Liverpool chances. In the 50th minute he latched onto a Coutinho cross just outside the 6 yard box, but failed to get a good shot on goal. He then had Liverpool's best chance of the game when Coutinho played a through ball into the box in the 57th minute. Lambert put a good effort on frame, but Lukasz Skorupski was able to make the save at the near post. The rest of the second half went without many goal threats, but Liverpool looked the more threatening side for most of the time. They were very unlucky to concede what would prove to be the winning goal just before added time. Marco Boriello and Daniel Agger both attempted to get a foot on a Roma corner, and Agger managed to get there first. Unfortunately, he directed it at his own goal, and Jack Robinson was unable to block the ball from going through his legs and past Brad Jones.
Although Liverpool were unlucky to lose the way they did, there were some positives to take away from the game. They did manage a nice second half turnaround after a very lackluster first 45 minutes. Philippe Coutinho put in a very strong performance, creating virtually all of Liverpool's chances, and providing his usual creative spark. Emre Can came on after Fabio Borini injured his shoulder early in the first half, and showed no lingering effects of the injury that forced him off early against Preston as he put in a solid performance. Although he didn't score, Rickie Lambert did manage to cause a some trouble for the Roma defense and looked the most threatening on the attack. Jordan Ibe had a rather quite game after creating all 3 goals in the first 2 games of this preseason tour. He made some good runs, but failed to create much.
It will be interesting to see how Fabio Borini is handled from here on out. We all know that Liverpool and Sunderland have agreed to a fee for him, so it was surprising to see him playing again tonight. He fell on his shoulder very awkwardly, and it brought on memories of the shoulder dislocation that ended his season 2 years ago. Although the club have said he did not dislocate it again, I would think that we won't see him playing again until this transfer situation is sorted out. It's hard to see the sense in playing him in meaningless friendlies when an injury could put his potential sale to Sunderland in jeopardy.
Liverpool will be back in action on Sunday when they kick off their International Champions Cup group play against Olympiacos at Chicago's Soldier Field.