Match report when Virgil van Dyke and Joe Gomez return from long-term knee injuries as second-half submarines; Liverpool lost a pre-season friendly 4-3 to Hertha Berlin; Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino and deputy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all in the goal for Jurgen Klopp’s team
Hertha Berlin beat Liverpool in a seven-goal thriller, but the return of both Virgil van Dijk and Gomez from injury would have pleased manager Jurgen Klopp the most.
In their second pre-season match of their summer tour in Austria, Klopp’s team soon found themselves 2-0 after goals from Santiago Ascacibar and a great shot by Suat Serdar.
However, Liverpool teamed up to reach a level during the break thanks to the well-placed efforts of Sadio Mane and Takumi Minamino, only to replace the double in the second half of Stevan Jovetic to give Hertha the booty.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still scored a goal back late, although the sight of Van Dyke and Gomez playing in the last 20 minutes at Tivoli Tyrol Stadium would have been most important for Klopp in the full-time whistle.
First Half Team: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas; Milner, Keita, Elliott; Mane, Salah, Minamino
Team for the second half: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Williams, Robertson, Milner, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Salah, Manet
How Van Dyke and Gomez returned to reinforce the Reds
If Klopp’s team expected an easy performance in Innsbruck, then many were mistaken, because after the Liverpool-dominated starting period, Hertha soon rushed into a surprising lead of two goals.
Ascacibar tied the Bundesliga team forward in the 21st minute, only to be sent off after being injured, stretching to touch the inviting free kick from host Marvin Platenhard before Serdar doubled his lead 10 minutes later with attractive blow.
It seemed a little dangerous when the midfielder took possession of the penalty area, but from the narrowest corner he somehow found the top corner of the net with a graceful volley.
Liverpool had more than a bit of misfortune to find themselves with 2-0, but they were soon on level, as Konstantinos Tsimikas took advantage of the poor throw of Alexander Shvolow to set Mane for the final close eight minutes before halftime.
Then, just three minutes before the break, Nabi Keita released Mohamed Salah in the box and from the striker’s magnificent back heel there was Minamino to complete the return.
Liverpool continued to dominate after the interval, only to somehow find themselves again, as deputy Jovetic stole behind Nat Phillips to return in the middle of the second period.
Soon all eyes were on the touchline, as finally, after many changes, Klopp finally led central defenders Van Dyke and Gomez for the last 20 minutes, their first runs, as both damaged ACLs last fall.
However, this did not have to be a fabulous ending, as Jovetic, facing Van Dyke, who had to win on the edge of the zone, turned the Dutchman from the inside out before shooting his second with 10 minutes to go.
Van Dyke then played a role in his side’s late consolation, with his header causing confusion in Hertha’s field before Oxlade-Chamberlain fired an unstoppable volley into the net for two minutes from time to time.
But it was too little, too late for Klopp’s men, not that the German wouldn’t mind after seeing his two central defenders go through their 20-minute turns unscathed.
Liverpool will face Athletic Bilbao from La Liga at Anfield on Sunday, with the pre-season friendly start starting at 16:00.