SINGAPORE — The spirit of Anfield was transported to the National Stadium on Friday evening (15 July), as Liverpool fans in Singapore did their utmost to conjure up the legendary atmosphere of their club's famous home ground.
At the very least, they managed to roar on the Reds to an impressive 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace in the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy pre-season match, with the Merseyside club looking sharp as they controlled the entire match comfortably.
It did not matter that these fans have precious few opportunities to catch these players in person in meet-and-greet fan sessions in the past two days, with ex-Liverpool stars fronted most of those events.
What mattered was that their idols were in the flesh in Singapore's most impressive stadium, and that was enough reason for these 50,217 fans to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" loud enough that it drowned out the piped-in music that began their famous anthem.
If the atmosphere was raucous - in the first event to permit full capacity at the stadium since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 - the action on the pitch was equally frenetic, with a lively Liverpool bossing the match and rarely allowing Palace a prolonged spell of dominance.
It was a big improvement from their lacklustre 0-4 defeat by arch-rivals Manchester United in Bangkok on Tuesday, when they looked rusty and short of fitness in their first pre-season game of their Southeast Asia tour.
"I actually thought we played well against United, but we made defensive mistakes at the wrong parts of the pitch," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the match.
"We are more compact in this match and didn't let Palace score, so this was a clear step forward in the right direction. We still have to work a lot in the next four weeks to prepare for the rest of the season, because from September onwards, we won't have time to train as there will be a match every three days."
Henderson, Salah get onto the scoresheet
Compared to the Bangkok defeat, the Liverpool players' passes were more accurate, their runs were more incisive, and their finishing was more lethal against Palace in Singapore.
And the Reds duly got their reward in the 13th minute, when up-and-coming Harvey Elliott latched onto a long pass from James Milner and cleverly pulled the ball back towards an unmark and onrushing Jordan Henderson. The long-time Liverpool captain made no mistake with a thumping shot past Vicente Guaita.
The match soon became an extended "keep-the-ball" session for the Reds, as they stroked the ball all over the pitch, probing the overworked Palace defence. A couple of half-chances went begging, but the players looked unconcerned as they focused on building their match fitness.
With Palace rarely troubling with their attack, Liverpool eased through to half-time. When the second half began, there was a huge roar of anticipation, as Mohamed Salah prepared to come on together with regular first-teamers Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk, as well as top new signing Darwin Nunez.
Almost immediately, the Egyptian forward repaid his cheering faithful with a superb goal two minutes into the half. Latching onto a great pass from Alexander-Arnold on the right flank, Salah cut inside, eluding two Palace defenders, before unleashing a curling shot from the edge of the box which Guaita could not prevent from flying into the net.
The crowd duly gave their loudest cheers to their top star - who recently signed a contract extension until 2025. And the other players could be forgiven in feeling that it was job done in Singapore - the fans would most likely go home content - as the friendly slowly petered out until full-time.
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