Liverpool 7-2 Blackpool: Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the scoresheet as Seasiders are well-beaten by Premier League champions

Blackpool squandered a two-goal lead to eventually lose comprehensively to Premier League champions Liverpool.

By Matt Scrafton
Saturday, 5th September 2020, 4:51 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th September 2020, 5:13 pm

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Liverpool v Blackpool as it happened

Blackpool squandered a two-goal lead to eventually lose comprehensively to Premier League champions Liverpool.

The Seasiders delivered a superb first-half display at Anfield to lead 2-1 at the break in their sixth and final pre-season friendly of the summer.

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Sullay Kaikai in action against Mo Salah

Neil Critchley, making an emotional return to Anfield, made a raft of changes at half-time and midway through the second half which resulted in Jurgen Klopp’s side taking control.

Liverpool’s superior quality eventually told, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi adding their names to the scoresheet as Pool lost their shape and organisation.

Despite the end result, the Seasiders can still take a lot of positives from what was a hugely impressive first 45 minutes.

The game marked Blackpool’s final friendly of their pre-season preparations, with an EFL Trophy group game against Barrow in midweek followed by the league curtain raiser at Plymouth Argyle next weekend.

New signing Demetri Mitchell, whose move was confirmed late on Friday night, was not involved for the Seasiders on Merseyside.

The same applied to midfielder Matty Virtue, who missed out with a hamstring injury he suffered in last week’s Carabao Cup tie against Stoke City.

New arrivals Dan Kemp and Bez Lubala were named on the subs’ bench, while Blackpool’s first-team was unchanged from their previous outing against the Potters.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were able to name an eye-wateringly strong line-up despite being without a host of stars who were away on international duty.

Their starting line-up included the likes of Alisson, Joel Matip, James Milner, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino as well as their ‘fab three’ Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Despite the gulf in class, it was the Seasiders who created the first opening and it was a good one too.

Ollie Turton clipped in a clever ball over the top to CJ Hamilton, whose cross into the middle was just ahead of the unmarked Jerry Yates. Had the ball been played on the floor, as Yates was screaming for, Pool would have had a clear chance to open the scoring with barely two minutes on the clock.

Over on the other side, Sullay Kaikai almost broke through on goal from Yates’ lay-off only to be denied by Joel Matip’s desperate last-ditch challenge.

Liverpool threatened for the first time on 10 minutes, when Firmino’s dangerous pullback across the face of goal was well dealt with by Michael Nottingham.

Just as it looked as though Liverpool were beginning to take control, Critchley’s side took the lead out of nowhere with an impressive solo effort from Hamilton.

The rapid winger did well to dispossess young defender Billy Koumetio on the halfway line before racing through on goal and emphatically beating Alisson at his near post.

The Reds looked to produce an instant response, but Chris Maxwell had other ideas as he saved well from Sadio Mane’s close-range strike.

Nottingham defended well to deny Firmino as the Brazil international looked to glance a header towards goal from James Milner’s clever cross.

Blackpool survived a trio of Liverpool corners in quick succession just before the half-hour mark, the home side’s pressure coming to an end when Maxwell claimed Firmino’s low drive.

Defensively, Liverpool still looked absolutely terrified of Hamilton whenever the former Mansfield Town ball got on the ball.

The 25-year-old was involved in the thick of the action once again when he nipped the ball past the onrushing Alisson before being brought down.

Following some initial confusion, referee Craig Pawson eventually pointed to the spot where Jerry Yates finished into the bottom corner with aplomb.

With just 32 minutes on the clock, the Seasiders were in heaven with a two-goal lead against arguably the best side in Europe.

Blackpool were rescued by the woodwork five minutes before the interval as Liverpool looked to reduce the deficit.

Naby Keita’s well-struck volley beat Maxwell all ends up but thankfully his strike hit the inside of the post and away to safety.

Klopp’s side went close to pulling a goal back three minutes from the break when Keita’s mishit shot fell at the feet of Salah, but his snapshot was deflected just over.

Liverpool did eventually find the back of the net from the resulting corner as Joel Matip powered home a header from Milner’s cross.

Critchley made four changes at the interval, handing debuts to MJ Williams, Dan Kemp and Bez Lubala while Jack Sims replaced Maxwell in goal. Ethan Robson, Hamilton and Kaikai - three key performers in the opening half - were the other three to make way.

Sims was called into action straight away, getting across his goal well to parry Firmino’s looping volley away for a corner.

Mistakes slowly but surely began to creep into Blackpool’s game as their much-changed side began to look a little out of shape.

The hosts forced the ball over the line from the resulting corner as the Reds worked the ball back into the box, Mane eventually tapping home from close range following some pinball in Pool’s six-yard box.

Liverpool completed their turnaround just two minutes later when Firmino cleverly diverted Minamino’s low shot over the goalline.

Pool almost got back on level terms seconds later when Yates looked to hook the ball past Alisson following an uncharacteristic mistake from Milner, only for the Liverpool keeper to deflect the ball behind.

Following a raft of further changes midway through the second period, substitute Harvey Elliott - played through by a clever ball from Divock Origi - added a fourth for Liverpool despite the best efforts of Sims.

At this point, gaps were appearing all over the pitch and Liverpool looked to exploit them at every opportunity.

Minamino, who was one of Liverpool’s best performers, slotted home a fifth following some good work from Firmino.

Origi tapped home a sixth in the 85th minute, ghosting in unmarked at the back post to meet Curtis Jones’ pinpoint cross, before Sepp Van Den Berg scored a similar effort three minutes later to complete the scoring.

TEAMS

Liverpool: Alisson (Adrian), Hoever, Matip (Phillips), Koumetio (Van Den Berg), Milner, Fabinho (Jones), Keita, Minamino, Mane (Elliott), Salah (Origi), Firmino

Subs not used: Karius, Clarkson

Blackpool: Maxwell (Sims), Turton (Howe), Nottingham (Thorniley), Ekpiteta, Husband (Shaw), Robson (Williams), Ward (Antwi), Anderson (Feeney), Hamilton (Lubala), Kaikai (Kemp), Yates (Madine)