Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

Liverpool’s Yasser Larouci, left, after a tackle from Sevilla’s Joris Gnagnon during a pre-season friendly match. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2019

Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

  • A crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them in red to support Liverpool

BOSTON: Joris Gnagnon took out Liverpool midfielder Yasser Larouci's legs at Fenway Park like a baserunner trying to break up a double play.

The Sevilla defender was sent off in the 76th minute for a reckless tackle near where second base usually is in the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox. Despite finishing with 10 men and facing an increasingly hostile crowd, Alejandro Pozo scored in the 90th minute on an assist from Munir El Haddadi to give the Spanish side a 2-1 victory.

“It’s too early in the season to create headlines by saying things I think in that situation,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said.

“No headlines, ‘Klopp: ...,’” he instructed reporters after the game, tracing the punctuation in the air with his finger. “I want to holiday in Spain again.”

The 18-year-old Larouci remained on the sod that had been laid over the Fenway infield while Gnagnon inexplicably argued the call for several minutes.

“In the locker room, he was fine,” Klopp said, adding that Harry Wilson, who left at the end of the first half after being hit in the face, was also OK.

Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui said he checked with Klopp after the match and was relieved to hear Larouci was not seriously injured.

“He (Gnagnon) was very worried, because he knows it’s a bad tackle. It's not a good decision,” Lopetegui said. “The most important thing is the player is OK.”

With temperatures in the mid-90s, a crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them dressed in red to support Liverpool. The Champions League winners and the Red Sox are both owned by groups led by financier John Henry, making the century-old ballpark seem like Liverpool’s Anfield.

The field was laid out from the third-base side to right field, with the home team bullpen removed to make room. The teams had their benches in front of the iconic Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field. Much of the baseball diamond itself was covered with sod; the pitcher’s mound was sawed apart and shoveled off after the Red Sox finished their homestand on Sunday.

After the US national anthem, the fans serenaded the Reds with the traditional “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

To deal with the heat, the game was stopped once each half to give the players a chance to hydrate; the Fenway grounds crew also came out with hoses to wet down the infield, and sprinklers took care of the outfield.

The fans didn’t get to see many of their favorites, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino all resting from international tournaments, along with goalkeeper Alisson. Liverpool’s top four goalkeepers were unavailable; Andy Longergan, who spent the last season at Middlesbrough, got the start.

Liverpool dominated early, but it was Sevilla that scored first when a ball deflected in the penalty area to Nolito, who made it 1-0 in the 37th minute. Divock Origi tied it in the 44th minute when a header deflected to him at the post and he buried it.

It stayed that way until the 90th minute.

The players on the field — at least those in Sevilla's white kits — didn’t seem to be persuaded that the game was only an exhibition. A tough tackle in the 12th minute resulted in a foul on Ever Banega, and it was upgraded to a yellow card when he slammed the ball into the ground in protest.

Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson left just before the half after apparently getting poked in the eye. But that was nothing compared to the straight red card given to Gnagnon. He seemed to be the only person in the stadium who disagreed with the call, arguing with the referee while Larouci was attended to.

“We lost 2-1. I hate that fact,” Klopp said. “There are more important games in our history, and hopefully in the future. But I don't want to give the impression that we lost 2-1 and I spoke about hard challenges.”

The teams substituted liberally at halftime, with every Liverpool player except Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced by a substitute. Four Sevilla players stayed in to start the second half.


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.