Swindon 1-2 Liverpool: Christian Benteke scores stunning volley on debut as Reds complete preparations ahead of Stoke

When Brendan Rodgers suggested last week that the £32.5million signing of Christian Benteke would eventually be deemed a bargain, even the most ardent of Liverpool supporters may have raised an eyebrow.

This performance, then, and the quite stunning goal that accompanied it, was not a bad way to dispel any lingering doubts.

In pre-season, results are generally not so important but impressions are and this first showing from Benteke will live long in the memory.It may only have been against Swindon Town of League 1 but the goal that decorated Benteke’s 67-minute performance was one fit to grace far greater occasions than a pre-season friendly here in Wiltshire.

Benteke’s moment arrived only minutes after half-time. He collected the ball on his chest on the edge of the penalty area, before cushioning it down and spinning in one movement before belting a right-footed volley into the top corner of the Swindon goal.

The question marks do not surround the Belgian forward’s quality, but rather whether he will be suited to a Liverpool side that has become known for a fluid passing style rather than the direct, counter-attacking formula that Benteke became so accustomed to at Aston Villa.

Benteke’s instant contribution, therefore, was an uplifting moment for Brendan Rodgers in a performance that otherwise raised as many questions as answers about his Liverpool side.

This was Liverpool’s second game in 24 hours after Saturday night’s 2-0 victory in Helsinki but Rodgers fielded an entirely different XI to the team that played in Finland.

It was a Liverpool side that also included youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back but also included first team players such as Emre Can, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Lazar Markovic.

From this line-up, only Benteke is likely to start at Stoke City in the opening match of the Premier League season next weekend.

Benteke was joined in an £80million front three by fellow debutant Roberto Firmino, who played from the left flank, while Lazar Markovic started out on the right.

For long spells, his team dominated possession and moved the ball smoothly but they also were guilty of wasting good openings in the final third.

Firmino, the £29million signing from Hoffenheim, should have opened the scoring within only two minutes when he broke the Swindon offside trap, only for his first touch to let him down and invite goalkeeper Lawrence Vigoroux to challenge him as he entered the penalty area.

The full-blooded collision may well have deserved a penalty but the referee waved play on and Firmino was left in a heap before stumbling away to the touchline. It was certainly an uncompromising introduction to English football for the Brazilian playmaker.

The good news for Liverpool is that Firmino was not deterred and his influence grew as the first half wore on. He jinked his way past three Swindon players before unleashing a dipping effort that fell only narrowly wide.

Earlier on, he had dispossessed Swindon defender Jordan Turnball and raced into the penalty area before squaring for Benteke. On this occasion, Liverpool’s new striker was unable to convert, sidefooting a tame effort towards the goalkeeper from point-blank range.

Benteke’s brilliant goal arrived shortly after the break and Benteke should really have added to his goal when he turned a cross over the bar from close range.

Yet just as they seemed destined to press on and add to their advantage, Swindon responded in kind. Rodgers’ side surrendered possession cheaply in midfield and the ball found its way out to Jonathan Obika on the right edge of the penalty area. He edged inside Spanish full back Alberto Moreno before curling a superb left-footed effort past Adam Bogdan.

Both Benteke and Firmino exited soon after the hour mark and the pattern of the game became increasingly disjointed as both sides shuffled the pack but Liverpool continued to create the better of the chances.

Alberto Moreno broke through only to be denied by an excellent save by the goalkeeper but youngster Sheyi Ojo sealed victory as the clock tick down, firing in with a powerful strike from distance.

Posted by on Aug 2 2015. Filed under Featured, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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