Anfield welcomed back their former stars with open arms for the All-star charity game and witnessed a truly competitive game that was arranged for a very noble cause.
The game not only had former Liverpool stars on show, but also players like John Terry, Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry who have been few of the best Premier League players in the last two decades or so.
First Half lineups
Steven Gerrard XI: Jones, Johnson, A Gerrard, Terry, Riise, S Gerrard, Alonso, Nolan, Babel, Sinclair, Henry.
Subs: Dann, Williams, Suarez, Torres, Adam, Spearing, Warnock, Teixeira.
Jamie Carragher XI: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Kelly, Arbeloa, Lucas, Shelvey, Kewell, Downing, Drogba, Balotelli.
Subs: Gulacsi, Garcia, Noone, Moreno, Clichy, Borini, Bellamy
Jamie Carragher’s first half line-up looked better on paper as they had the firepower of Drogba and current Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli up front. The duo justified their starts and scored to give Carragher’s side a two-goal lead after just 21 minutes. Mario Balotelli’s goal came from 20 yards out after the Italian international made space and took a shot.
Balotelli then played a delightful pass for Didier Drogba who beat Carragher XI’s offside trap and slotted the ball past Brad Jones after a few stepovers. Xabi Alonso couldn’t play the entire first half, maybe because of Bayern’s instruction to the Spaniard, and was replaced by Joao Teixeira just after 30 minutes. Alonso, who was and still is a Kop idol, was given a terrific ovation by the Anfield support.
With two goals down, Gerrard’s side needed something to happen and they were awarded a generous penalty by referee Lee Probert when Jerome Sinclair was taken down by former Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly. Steven Gerrard stepped up to score past his former Liverpool teammate and three-time Premier League golden glove winner Pepe Reina to reduce the margin.
Gerrard’s side slowly started playing with a higher tempo and should have equalised in the 40th minute when a sublime Thierry Henry pass found Ryan Babel, but the Dutchman failed to test Reina. Henry’s pass was much appreciated by the crowd as it was a typical fake-shot Henry special.
Second Half lineups:
Steven Gerrard XI: Jones, Warnock, Williams, Dann, Johnson, Adam, Spearing, Babel, Gerrard, Torres, Suarez
Jamie Carragher XI: Reina, Clichy, Kelly, Moreno, Carragher, Lucas, Noone, Borini, Bellamy, Balotelli, Luis Garcia
Anfield erupted in the second half as they finally had the chance to see Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez play together, something that they had hoped to see when Suarez was signed. The duo showed glimpses of what could have been but failed to find the target that could have completed a brilliant day at Anfield. As soon as they entered the pitch, the Kop brought back the old days with the Suarez and Torres chants. Gerrard’s side did find the equalizer when Luis Suarez was fouled by Jamie Carragher and Gerrard converted the resultant penalty.
The game was a chance for players like Luis Suarez, Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres to finally say goodbye in a proper way as some of the Liverpudlians weren’t happy with the way they left, especially Torres. Any doubts of Torres receiving a bittersweet reception were put to bed in the second half as the Kop cheered him on to try and get on the scoresheet. Even Chelsea captain John Terry was given good support on the day, something that isn’t seen when Chelsea play Liverpool. In the end, the game turned out to be a good competitive match that everyone was hoping for, although they crowd would have loved to see Torres and Suarez get on the scoresheet.