Liverpool 3-1 Athletic Bilbao: Reds round off pre-season with a strong win in Dublin

Liverpool ended pre-season with a 3-1 win against Athletic Bilbao in Dublin thanks to goals from Roberto Firmino, Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke.

Liverpool 3-1 Athletic Bilbao: Reds round off pre-season with a strong win in Dublin
(Picture: Getty Images - Andrew Powell)
Liverpool
3 1
Athletic Bilbao
Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold (Flanagan, min. 45), Lovren (Klavan, min. 45), Matip (Gomez, min. 45), Moreno (Robertson, min. 45); Can (Wijnaldum, min. 45), Milner (Ejaria, min. 45), Grujić (Woodburn, min. 45); Salah (Kent, min. 45), Firmino (Mané, min. 45), Origi (Solanke, min. 45).
Athletic Bilbao: Arrizabalaga; Boveda, Saborit, San José; Williams (Villalibre, min. 69), Lekue (Beñat, min. 69), Mikel Rico (De Marcos, min. 69), Sabin Merino, Aketxe (Kike Sola, min. 85); Córdoba (Balenziaga, min. 85), Núñez.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 21, Firmino (pen). 1-1, min. 29, Williams. 2-1, min. 59, Woodburn. 3-1, min. 79, Solanke.
INCIDENTS: Pre-season friendly between Liverpool and Athletic Bilbao at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Attendance: 51,000.

Liverpool rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 3-1 win over La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao in sunny Dublin on Saturday evening. 

Roberto Firmino despatched a penalty that he won himself in the 21st minute before the Reds conceded a cheap equaliser soon after, Iñaki Williams sliding in a composed finish.

But Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn produced a reminder of his precocious talent on the hour mark, firing in a stunning goal from the edge of the area to the delight of a packed Aviva Stadium.

Summer signing Dominic Solanke added a late third, heading in his third goal of the summer from a Ragnar Klavan cross to hand the Premier League side their sixth win in eight friendlies.

The Reds will now focus on their opening Premier League game of the 2017-18 season away at Marco Silva's Watford next Saturday.  

Strong starting XI minus Henderson and Coutinho 

Without captain Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge due to illness and injuries respectively, Jürgen Klopp fielded his strongest possible eleven.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - expected to start the Reds' Premier League opener next week - started at right-back with James Milner making a rare return to midfield, where he was joined by Marko Grujić.

Elsewhere, Simon Mignolet was preferred in goal despite not featuring in the Audi Cup earlier in the week, and Alberto Moreno was selected over summer signing Andrew Robertson at left-back.

Firmino puts Liverpool in front after Origi wastes pair of opportunities

Several players appeared to be playing for their places in the match-day 18 against Watford and that showed early on as Liverpool placed with good pace and intensity.

Divock Origi, in Sadio Mané's left-wing role in the front three, should have put Liverpool 1-0 up on eight minutes. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino's first-time passes slid the Belgian through on goal but he dragged disappointingly wide from 10 yards.

Origi went close again after more bright play, Salah collecting Moreno's cross from the left to loop a ball over to the far post where Origi rose but powered an effort off the mark.

But Liverpool's forthcoming opener came when Firmino was clumsily tripped by Iñigo Leuke inside the box after controlling Salah's pass and looking to drive towards goal. Though Milner - last season's first-choice penalty taker - was on the pitch, the Brazilian himself stepped up to fire just beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Bilbao respond to go into the break all square

Klopp's charges were fully in control but almost allowed Bilbao to equalise when Williams led a three-on-two break but Ager Aketxe, sliding to reach a low cross, could only fire wide.

Yet the Spanish side restored parity courtesy of some substandard defending. Dejan Lovren was unable to cut out a through ball in search of Williams and the winger picked up the loose ball, burst into a pocket of space 15 yards out and side-footed into the bottom corner as Liverpool's back-line scrambled to recover. 

The pitch-side microphones caught Klopp screaming at his players to "play f*cking football" and Moreno - having impressed against Bayern Munich on Tuesday - might have put the Reds back ahead after beating Unai Núñez to make himself room in the box, but his audacious outside-of-the-boot effort was easily saved.

Woodburn brilliance puts Reds back ahead on the hour mark

Only Mignolet kept his place for the second-half with Sadio Mané and Gini Wijnaldum the most senior introductions. 

Substitute Joe Gomez was almost punished when he took too long on the ball and was dispossessed by Iñigo Córdoba, but the forward could only fire a powerful left-footer directly at Mignolet.

Liverpool's second-half eleven took time to find their stride as Klopp continually remonstrated on the touchline, but Mané went close to making it 2-1 with Arrizabalaga producing a sublime save to push his close-range shot over the bar.

But the Merseyside outfit restored their advantage when Solanke drove down the left and upon reaching the by-line, cut a pass back to Woodburn on the edge of the box. The 17-year-old's first touch took him into space and he fired an emphatic left-footed effort across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

Solanke rounds off the evening with another excellent header

Liverpool resumed control from there on in and never looked troubled despite Bilbao bringing on several more experienced figures. Solanke's cross from the right almost forced an own goal as Oscar De Marcos sliced wide in the six-yard box.  

But Liverpool finally rounded off the evening with a third goal when Klavan - in an unusually advanced position - produced a sublime pinpoint cross for Solanke to guide a header into the top corner, making for a fitting end to a largely positive pre-season. 

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