Gerrard enjoys Greek gifts in testimonial

LIVERPOOL. Liverpool supporters paid tribute to captain Steven Gerrard as their Reds continued preparations for the start of the English Premier League season with a 2-0 victory over Greek side Olympiacos on Saturday.
Gerrard lapped up Anfield's applause at his testimonial to highlight his fantastic service for the club.  Net photo
Gerrard lapped up Anfield's applause at his testimonial to highlight his fantastic service for the club. Net photo

LIVERPOOL. Liverpool supporters paid tribute to captain Steven Gerrard as their Reds continued preparations for the start of the English Premier League season with a 2-0 victory over Greek side Olympiacos on Saturday.

The Anfield friendly served as a testimonial match for Gerrard, who hoped to raise around £1m for his charitable foundation as he marked his 15 years with his home-town club.

After a close-season dominated by the future of forward Luis Suarez, currently the subject of a £40m bid from Arsenal, manager Brendan Rodgers was able to focus on matters on the pitch as he prepares for Liverpool’s opening league fixture against Stoke on 17 August.

Suarez, who is banned for the opening six fixtures of the coming campaign as a legacy of his highly-publicised biting of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic late last season, watched from the bench for the opening hour before being introduced into the action.

While Suarez’s arrival as a substitute was warmly received by home fans, Rodgers would also have been happy to focus on life beyond the Uruguay international, handing starts to recent signings Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas, while a fourth newcomer, Luis Alberto, was among the substitutes.

Midfielder Joe Allen steered home the only goal of the first half in the 23rd minute, converting an Aspas shot.

Aside from the opening goal, the main interest for the near-capacity Anfield crowd appeared to lie in seeing Gerrard score on his big occasion.

Olympiacos were picked as the opposition for Gerrard’s big day in a salute to his stunning strike against the Greeks in a 2004 UEFA Champions League tie that sparked the club’s epic run to their fifth European crown later that season.

Unfortunately for the 33-year-old he was unable to reprise those heroics this time. Jordan Henderson, introduced as a second half substitute along with Suarez and now-retired Anfield favourite Jamie Carragher, scored with his first touch from Coutinho’s 62nd minute pass.

As the game took on a more informal mood, Rodgers brought on Luis Alberto and Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate and friend Robbie Fowler, the former England striker, as substitutes for the closing 17 minutes.

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