After The Match 


St. Gallen-Liverpool 0-0         15.7.09                    PS-friendly
Team: Cavalieri, San Jose, Degen, Insua, Carragher, Spearing, Gerrard, El Zhar, Babel, Voronin, Nemeth
Subs: Martin, Darby, Skrtel, Johnson, Kelly, Plessis, Pacheco, Benayoun, Lucas, Ngog, Gulacsi, Ayala, Kuyt
Not used:
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Cyril Zimmermann
Attendance: Ca. 15.000

              MATCH REPORTS                       

Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Blocked shots:
Fouls conceded:

HEADLINES "It was a good game, if
a little open..."
Rafael Benitez
1607: Glen Johnson class shines
           through in Liverpool FC bore draw

1507: Benitez pleased with Johnson debut
1507: Johnson makes bow as Liverpool draw

Glen Johnson class shines
through in Liverpool FC bore draw

By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo

If anyone is wondering why the mainstream TV companies swerved Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly of the season just speak to anyone who was there. You will soon be put straight.

If ever a match proved the age old managerial adage about these early pipe openers being about improving sharpness and fitness it was this one as the Reds laboured to a goalless draw with St Gallen in a game which will live as long in the memory as that promise to mow the back garden before the summer is out.

Entertaining it wasn’t. Enthralling it most certainly wasn’t.

In fact the only incident of any real note came pre-match when Philipp Degen was booed with the kind of venom that should be reserved for ex-Liverpool players who sign for Manchester United.

So much for Swiss neutrality.

Still, at least Swiss international Degen can content himself in the knowledge that while he may not be too popular in his homeland he at least managed to rouse the passions of the St Gallen crowd on a night when audible emotion was pretty much muffled by the paucity of play.

The lack of quality football is only to be expected at this stage of proceedings of course and had Liverpool come out of the blocks like Usain Bolt then there would today be concern that they are in danger of peaking far too soon.

As it is, they delivered the kind of scrappy, incohesive performance which is the norm in mid-July.

A display which featured the odd moment of inspiration but which was by and large no better than should ever be expected when a manager is in experimentation mode with a squad that has only been training together for little over a week.

Unlike the full house that packed the AFG Arena, Rafa Benitez will not have been too disappointed by what he saw.

The Reds boss will have been pleased with the individual performances of several of his players – including youngsters Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly – and not particularly impressed with some others.

He will have seen how much physical and tactical work still remains to be done and he will also have been able to gauge just how well his pre-season planning is going.

Entertainment? That can come later. Much later.

As has become the norm in Benitez’s reign, the Liverpool manager used an early pre-season game to blood some of the club’s most promising youngsters while also giving some of his fringe players a chance to press their claims for a more regular involvement in the first team squad.

With the Reds boss keen to give run outs to as many members of his squad as possible the chances of Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly turning into any kind of spectacle were about as remote as Benitez exchanging Christmas cards with wantaway midfielder Xabi Alonso in five months time.

Not surprisingly, Liverpool’s mix of first team regulars, reserves, fringe players, youngsters and virtual outcasts was never really able to deliver much in the way of a consistent playing pattern.

Equally inevitable was the fact that Steven Gerrard’s star shone brightest as the Liverpool captain’s crisp passing and imaginative movement marked him out as the first half’s most accomplished performer, with Spearing also impressing in a more understated fashion as the Reds skipper’s midfield sidekick.

New signing Glen Johnson also acquitted himself well in an unfamiliar left back berth and can be content with his first appearance in a red shirt.

The former Pompey man was one of eleven Liverpool substitutions at half-time as Benitez carried out his pledge to change his entire team at the interval.

Having seen his first half team struggle to carve out any openings of particular note apart from a close range Krisztian Nemeth effort that was easily foiled by St Gallen keeper Reto Bolli, the Liverpool manager will have been pleased to see his substitute eleven look to push forward at every opportunity.

Johnson could and perhaps should have opened the scoring following a neat one two with David Ngog but disappointment at the way his volley was steered wide of the target will have been tempered by the fact that the full back had illustrated his trademark ability to get into advanced positions.

Yossi Benayoun was next to try his luck following some inventive build up play involving Stephen Darby and Dani Pacheco, but the Israeli’s goal bound effort was tipped over by Bolli.

As the half wore on, the home fans demanded more from their team – who started their Swiss League campaign last week – but with Liverpool increasingly dominating possession it seemed that their thirst to take the notable scalp of the five time European champions would go unquenched.

St Gallen continued to try and hit their visitors on the break only for their efforts to be continually thwarted by the two Martins – Skrtel and Kelly – with the more junior member of Liverpool’s central defensive duo making the most of his promotion from the reserves with an assured and commanding display.

Kelly’s fellow second string regulars Pacheco and Ngog both had opportunities to put themselves in the limelight, but the former was let down by a lack of poise when a clear shooting opportunity arose and the latter suffered from a radar malfunction when presented with the most free of headers.

Such profligacy could have proven costly had the unmarked Mario Frick not headed wide with just minutes remaining.

But the concession of a late goal would have been harsh on Liverpool who had shown more than enough endeavour and spirit to deserve a draw at the very least.

It was a game which didn’t really deserve a goal and the chances which came and went without ever really looking like being converted ensured that it didn’t get one.

Liverpool’s fans have become increasingly used to seeing their team in live pre-season action.

But this time the major TV companies did not oblige them – and for that supporters should be eternally grateful.

Benitez pleased with Johnson debut

By Jimmy Rice in Switzerland - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez praised the versatility of Glen Johnson after the new boy filled in on the left during his Liverpool debut.

The 24-year-old was asked to play at left-back in our goalless draw with St Gallen on Wednesday night due to the absence of Andrea Dossena and Fabio Aurelio.

And Johnson showed some nice touches during his second-half bow.

Benitez told "I asked him to play on the left and he did really well. The team as a whole did well but everyone was watching Glen and he was good."

The boss took plenty of positives from the club's opening pre-season friendly despite the scoreline.

He said: "It was a good game, if a little open. There were opportunities for both teams so it's good for the fans. As a manager you are always pleased with a clean sheet and I was really pleased with some of the play in attack.

"We could see some really good play with some young players and everyone worked really hard.

"The young players did really well, though they'll need more time. Their workrate and attitude was the main thing."

Benitez also reserved a word for the hoards of Kopites who flooded into the AFG Arena.

"We have a massive following around the world and you'll see it in Asia next. It's fantastic," he said.

Johnson makes bow
as Liverpool draw


Glen Johnson made his Liverpool debut as a second-half substitute on Wednesday night as the Reds were held to a goalless draw by St Gallen.

It was Liverpool's opening pre-season fixture and they were made hard to work for a share of the spoils in Switzerland.

Rafa Benitez used the game to give each member of his 24-man squad a much-needed run-out.

Ryan Babel went close early on for Liverpool, but Philipp Degen had to be alert on 14 minutes when he was forced into a desperate clearance after Ze Vitor had cut the ball back from a dangerous position on the right.

The Reds were let off the hook moments later when Mario Caceras somehow contrived to hit the post from close range following another neat move down the right.

New boy Johnson showed some neat touches after the break and almost netted but he drilled his shot wide.

Dani Pacheco and Yossi Benayoun then combined to create an opening that saw the Israeli cut inside and force a fine save out of the St Gallen keeper.

David Ngog then wasted a good chance from a corner as the game ended all square.

They are next in action on Sunday against Rapid Vienna in the Austrian capital.

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