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Midfield shines through defeat in ICC Final

Although Liverpool have lost in Miami, there's still plenty of positives to be taken, but also room to improve.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Liverpool have fallen against bitter rivals Man United in the final of the International Champions Cup. Steven Gerrard scored from the spot early on before goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard gave United the win.

United put out the stronger side, with pretty much a full strength XI. David De Gea was in goal, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling were at the back as well as Antonio Valencia and Mata in midfield and Wayne Rooney up front.

Our team consisted of mostly our 2nd string. Martin Kelly, Joe Allen, Rickie Lambert and Jose Enrique made the start as more regular first teamers Phillipe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, and Martin Skrtel were all in the side as well.

We got off to a good start, making some promising runs and connecting well, especially in midfield. Raheem Sterling was looking bright on and off the ball, making runs and taking on players, something we didn't see from him this time 12 months ago. Phillipe Coutinho was also looking bright, and was connecting a lot of the attacking play together, placing his passes around the pitch and linking with his team mates.

The hard work paid off when Raheem Sterling strode into the box and was subsequently taken down by his marker Phil Jones, resulting in the referee pointing to the spot.

Stevie G stepped up to take the spot kick, which was dispatched into the left corner to give the Reds the lead.

After that, the game settled more into an even pace for about five to ten minutes, before Ashley Young troubled Simon Mignolet in goal with a decent cross which had the Belgian scrambling across his box.

This happened to be the only real sniff that the mancs had in the first half, as the Reds then took a strong hold for the remainder of the first half.

Raheem was clearly a target for Man United holding midfielder Ander Herrera, who committed no fewer than four fouls in the first 45, at least two of which were on our teenage standout.

But Liverpool went in at half time with the 1-0 lead, not all that comfortable with just the one goal, but obviously taking things slow as it was only a friendly.

The second half began a lot like the first, with both sides having a bit of frantic possession, though Liverpool created two half chances by way of a poor effort by Rickie Lambert and a shot wide from Sterling until, on 56, Wayne Rooney would level.

Javier Hernandez would play the ball into the box from the right after a quick United counter, and Martin Skrtel would give Rooney the space and time to slot the ball past Simon Mignolet in goal.

Just two minutes later. Juan Mata took advantage of a wicked deflection to give United the lead. Luke Shaw centered the ball and Mata would have a crack from just outside the box. Reading the situation, Mamadou Sakho was then on his bike to close down the shot, only to have it ricochet off of him and past Mignolet in goal, who most likely would've had an easy save had the ball not deflected.

Shortly after, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva, and Kris Petersen came on for Steven Gerrard, Rickie Lambert and Joe Allen, as we continue to prepare not only the XI, but the full side, for the new season. Jordon Ibe would also come in for Phillipe Coutinho.

Later on in the match, the referee Mark Geiger gave a goal to United after Ashley Young's cross quite obviously went out of play over the bar, but came back into play with Wayne Rooney nonchalantly slotting the ball into the corner.

The goal was at first given, but after the fourth official reviewed the call, the goal was chalked off and play resumed.

The Reds went in search of an equalizer to take the match to penalties, but Jesse Lingard would seal United's victory late on after we committed too many men forward, and United took advantage on the counter before the ball fell to Lingard just outside the box, and placed a shot into the bottom corner.

Despite the scoreline, Brendan's lads played well. If anything else, the match proved that we need a striker. There was a point late in the match, where Jordan Henderson played a great ball after some good work on the right wing, the ball went straight across the face of goal, with no one to latch onto the ball at the back post. This is undoubtedly where the likes of Lambert or Sturridge would have been, which draws the conclusion that we need another option up front.

Our next match comes on Sunday, August 10th, at Anfield against Borussia Dortmund, who've played substantially more preseason games than we have. We'll no doubt play more of our first teamers for this, with the start of the season against Southampton being less than a week away.