Liverpool’s preparations for the up-coming English Premier League continued as they recorded an in-the-end comfortable 6-3 victory over a Malaysia XI in a friendly match in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The Reds went ahead in the 26th minute thanks to a controversial penalty. Referee Nagor Amir Bin Noor Mohamed ruled that the Reds’ new record signing Andy Carroll had been brought down illegally by Fadhli Mohd Shas. Midfielder Charlie Adam stepped up and despite needing a retake, buried the chance. The mood in the crowd was so good and uplifting that it did not matter to them who had scored. They celebrated the goal with a spectacular cheer.
The stadium though, went ballistic when Malaysian captain Shafiq Rahim equalised in the 42nd minutes when his banana free-kick from the top of the box found the net, sailing over the outstretched hands of Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Their next chance came on the stroke of half-time when another Rahim 40-yard free-kick missed the far post by a whisker which meant the scores remained 1-all at the break. Liverpool were true to their spirit of practice that they replaced all their eleven players for the second half.
The charges of legend Kenny Dalglish went ahead again in the 67th minute and widened the gap three minutes later. They cleared further with a strike from Maxi Rodriguez in the 77th minute. Things just looked different after that as the hosts started to regroup and attack. To the delight of the jam-packed ‘partisan’ crowd, Mohd Safee Mohd Sali pulled one back in the 77th minute before adding another few minutes later.
The match was heading for a 4-3 finish, a result the Reds already settled for in their first warm-up game in China, until the injury time’s play as Rodriguez added another while Dirk Kuyt too put his name on the score sheet two minutes into added time.
The Reds are in Malaysia as part of their second pre-season tour of Asia in three years. In the first game of the three-match tour, they edged past China’s Guangzhou province’s little-known Guangdong Sunray Cave 4-3 on July 13. They now move on to Singapore for the final practice game today.
Liverpool had previously visited Thailand and Singapore in 2009. This is the first time they came to China and Malaysia and this Asia trip has been facilitated by the team’s new sponsors Standard Chartered Bank.
Back in KL, it was already electric inside the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday afternoon, well ahead of the 5:45 pm kick-off. The 90,000-capacity arena was full to every inch. And it virtually was a Red Sea. The beating of drums, cacophony of the Malaysia editions of vuvuzelas and loud music on the PA system made the atmosphere inside far too deafening.
Fans from all corners of the posh metropolis of Kuala Lumpur started thronging the stadium on the outskirts of the city from as early as 2:00 pm, fearing severe traffic congestion on the KL-Selangor Expressway. Many of them had to leave their cars on the streets two miles away from the venue.
–With The Daily Star inpu