Fleetwood Town 0-5 Liverpool: Reds hammer five past League One opponents in routine pre-season win

Four different goalscorers - Marko Grujic, Ben Woodburn, Lucas Leiva and Roberto Firmino - helped Liverpool to their second successive pre-season victory at the expense of League One outfit Fleetwood Town on Wednesday.

Fleetwood Town 0-5 Liverpool: Reds hammer five past League One opponents in routine pre-season win
(Picture: Getty Images)
Fleetwood Town
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Fleetwood Town: 1st half XI: Neal, Wright, Eastham, Ryan, Ball, Grant, Davis, Nirrenold, Deacon, Cole, Bell. 2nd half XI: Cairns, Jonsson, Pond, Kip, Bolger, Duckworth, Sowerby, Haughton, Osborne, Hunter, Nadesan.
Liverpool: 1st half XI: Karius, Flanagan, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Stewart, Grujic, Alexander-Arnold, Markovic, Mane, Ings. 2nd half XI: Bogdan, Randall, Ilori, Wisdom, Smith, Lucas, Ejaria, Brannagan, Kent, Firmino, Woodburn.
SCORE: 0-1, min. 17, Grujic. 0-2, min. 52, Woodburn. 0-3, min. 69, Lucas. 0-4, min. 70, Firmino. 0-5, min. 90+1, Firmino.
INCIDENTS: Pre-season friendly between Fleetwood Town and Liverpool at Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood. Played in front of 5,254 spectators.

Debutant Marko Grujic made a memorable impression as Liverpool ran out comfortable 5-0 winners against Fleetwood Town in the second friendly of their nine-game pre-season schedule on Wednesday evening.

Despite only playing the first 45 minutes, the imposing Serbian was a class above anyone else on the pitch - winning a penalty and netting the game's breakthrough goal inside the first 20 minutes.

Danny Ings could not profit from Grujic's drive into the box, his underhit spot-kick proving a fairly simple save for Fleetwood's Chris Neal in goal.

But Grujic marked his first start with a goal just six minutes later, walking on to Alberto Moreno's pull-back and firing beyond Neal for the only goal of the first-half. 

Full changes for both sides had no negative affect on the game, in fact adding more intensity and pace, particularly on Liverpool's behalf, and 16-year-old Ben Woodburn scored his first goal for the first-team with a simple tap-in just six minutes into the second-half.

The Reds added to that with quick-fire third and fourth goals with 20 minutes remaining, Lucas Leiva and Roberto Firmino both finding the scoresheet as Klopp's men ran riot.

Late into injury-time, Firmino added his second of the game from close-range after reaching Woodburn's excellent low ball into the six-yard box for the icing on the cherry of a very promising performance.

First-half Reds take little time at all to get going

The two clubs had not met for 13 years, when Liverpool won 6-1 against a Fleetwood then in North West Counties Premier Division, six divisions lower than their current League One status.

But Jürgen Klopp refused to take them lightly, handing Grujic his maiden start for the Reds in the centre of midfield. The £5.1 million January addition missed their opening warm-up against Tranmere Rovers due to work permit issues but took up a place in midfield, while the promising Trent Alexander-Arnold was entrusted in a forward position.

Klopp and Fleetwood manager Steven Pressley pre-match. (Picture: Getty Images)
Klopp and Fleetwood manager Steven Pressley pre-match. (Picture: Getty Images)

All four of the Reds' summer signings, including Loris Karius, Joel Matip, Grujic and Sadio Mane got another run-out with the latter joined by Danny Ings and Lazar Markovic in a strong forward line.

Centre-back Dejan Lovren captained the side as the visitors set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation early on. With Klopp having revealed the tactical work they had been looking at in training, Alexander-Arnold took up a position on the right of a three-pronged supporting cast in behind Ings, with Markovic in the middle and Mane on the left.

That system did wonders throughout an entertaining first 45 minutes, although it was Grujic who would steal the show. Jon Flanagan's run down the right created the first chance of the game for Liverpool, for none other than Grujic, but he had to stoop low to meet the cross and could only head well wide.

It took time for the Reds, on a magnificent surface at Highbury Stadium, to settle into their stride but once they did they comfortably dominated possession and Grujic was at the heart of things. 

Grujic effortlessly bundled aside Jimmy Ryan, formerly of Liverpool's Academy, before bursting into the box where he was tripped by Akil Wright to win a penalty.

From the spot, despite having scored against Tranmere Rovers in their first friendly, Ings could not outfox Neal; the 'keeper saving well to deny Liverpool an early opener.

Grujic deservedly nets the opener from eight yards

But only seven minutes later, Grujic found the breakthrough that his performance merited through a composed finish to complete an excellent team move.

The free-flowing move began with Alexander-Arnold's crossfield ball to Mane down the left-hand side and the winger worked his way into the box before finding the overlapping Moreno.

The left-back's pull-back from the byline reached Grujic at the corner of the box and, aided by a slight deflection which allowed his shot to nick up over Neal, the imposing midfielder netted his first goal in the club's colours and wheeled away jubilantly to celebrate.

Grujic celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead early on. (Picture: Getty Images)
Grujic celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead early on. (Picture: Getty Images)

Only four minutes or so later, Grujic's powerful cross-cum-shot from a tight angle struck the woodwork after Markovic's poked through ball found him down the channel as he continued to excel.

Otherwise, Mane was one of the side's brightest performers. His burst of pace continually gave him the advantage over his marker and it was no surprise that much of Liverpool's joy came down the left.

Though his end product was not always of the quality he might have liked, the Senegal international's enterprise continually led to the creation of chances - Lovren most notably testing Neal with a header following a corner Mane had helped win.

Just past the half-hour mark, the same centre-back found himself on the edge of the Cod Army's box, uncharacteristically flicking the ball up over a Fleetwood player's head before winning a foul for a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Lovren pushed away teammates as he lined up the set piece, only for his manager to intervene and instruct Moreno to take it - the Spaniard curling his attempt harmlessly into the wall.

Fleetwood had a rare opportunity in the 38th minute, but after Moreno's sliding tackle set up Ryan, the midfielder could only curl high into the stands.

But as soon as they let their chance slip, Fleetwood once again fell to the back foot. Grujic, again, tested Neal when Alexander-Arnold teed him up with a low ball across the edge of the box but his stinging drive was once again well saved.

However, just before the break, Fleetwood should arguably have pulled level when David Ball did well on the left-hand side to roll a teasing ball across the face of goal but Bobby Grant was too slow to react and failed to get on the end of it.

Klopp's wholesale half-time changes prompt rampant second period

At the break, Klopp made a total of 11 changes, as he did in the win at Prenton Park on Friday - with Lucas Leiva and Roberto Firmino the experienced heads among a youthful crop.

16-year-old striker Ben Woodburn was afforded another chance to impress, as were midfielders Ovie Ejaria and Cameron Brannagan.

In the absence of the excellent Grujic, it took just six minutes for the away side to double their advantage through Ryan Kent's enthusiastic work down the flank.

The winger drifted into space inside the area behind the back-line and subsequently squared for Woodburn - only a year out of school - to slide into an empty net.

Woodburn after scoring his first goal for Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)
Woodburn after scoring his first goal for Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)

Kent was undoubtedly Liverpool's key man after the interval and the No.40's pace down the right caused plenty of problems, cutting in and forcing a good save out of Alexander Cairns shortly after.

Next, the 19-year-old rolled a well-placed pass into the path of Woodburn, who tried to curl an effort beyond his marker and into the far corner only for substitute 'keeper Cairns to read the shot well.

On the hour, Adam Bogdan was forced into his first piece of action since coming off the substitutes' bench as he denied Elliot Osborne, catching the midfielder's well-struck effort.

But Liverpool were always on top of the game and added a third through the unlikely figure of Lucas. Starting and finishing a move, he passed into the bottom corner from Kent's lay-off having won the ball in the centre of the pitch to kickstart the move.

Within one minute, it was 4-0 as Klopp's men once again profited from the efforts of a bright youngster in Woodburn. Twisting and turning to wriggle free of the 'keeper, he ended up losing the ball beneath his feet allowing Firmino to steal in and fire home.

They threatened to add to that lead in the final quarter of an hour and after fashioning a number of decent opportunities, finally rounded off the scoring in the final seconds of injury-time as Firmino finished from Woodburn's set-up.

Liverpool first-half XI: Karius, Flanagan, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Stewart, Grujic, Alexander-Arnold, Markovic, Mane, Ings.

Liverpool second-half XI: Bogdan, Randall, Ilori, Wisdom, Smith, Lucas, Ejaria, Brannagan, Kent, Firmino, Woodburn.

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