• Pre-season friendlies

Rodgers' Reds reign starts with draw

ESPN staff
July 21, 2012
Toronto 1-1 Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers' first game at the Liverpool helm ended in a 1-1 draw as highly-rated teenager Raheem Sterling set up Adam Morgan's 69th-minute equaliser against Toronto FC.

The hosts took a 58th-minute lead through Quincy Amarikwa but Liverpool equalised 11 minutes later through Morgan following good work by the lively Sterling as honours finished even at the Rogers Centre.

Rodgers, who was without a host of senior players for various reasons, named a mixture of youth and experience for Liverpool's opening pre-season match and made wholesale changes at half-time - 23 Reds players featured in the game.

Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at AC Milan and Lille respectively, both saw action, while Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva was sent on as a 75th-minute replacement for his first appearance since damaging cruciate ligaments in November.

Newcastle were denied a victory against Turkish outfit Fenerbahce when Cristian Baroni scored a last-gasp equaliser. It was looking good for the Magpies when Mehdi Abeid calmly slotted home in the second half. However, they failed to hold on to their lead, Cristian drilling a low drive past Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot at his near post in stoppage time.

James Vaughan scored twice for Norwich but it proved in vain as the Canaries fell to a 3-2 defeat to Hertha Berlin in Chris Hughton's first game in charge. Norwich began well but soon found themselves 2-0 down after Elias Kachunga bagged a brace on his way to securing a hat-trick.

Hughton rung the changes for the second half and it galvanised Norwich into action. Vaughan pulled one back when firing through the keeper's legs after latching onto Anthony Pilkington's through-ball. However, the momentum soon swung the other way when Daniel Ayala fouled Kachunga in the penalty area and the striker sealed his treble from the spot.

Fenerbahce 1-1 Newcastle

Ayala had a hand in Vaughan's second, cushioning Korey Smith's corner for the former Everton man to head home, but Norwich could not force an equaliser as Berlin held on.

Celtic were handed a harsh lesson in the Amsterdam ArenA when they were thrashed 4-0 by Ajax. Hoops defender Charlie Mulgrew was sent off for deliberate handball on the line in the 66th minute before Daley Blind scored from the resultant spot-kick but the damage had been done long before then.

In the 13th minute Ajax midfielder Siem De Jong drove into the top corner from outside the box giving Parkhead keeper Fraser Forster no chance. Poor defending was to blame when striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson tapped the ball into the empty net to make it 2-0. More slack defending led to number three: Thomas Rogne got himself caught in possession, allowing Thulani Serero to run through and slide the ball under Forster.

Celtic improved marginally after the break but Mulgrew's indiscretion ended any hopes of a comeback. He instinctively put his hand up on the line to save a Viktor Fischer shot but it was all in vain as Blind slammed the penalty past Forster.

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