Palembang: A jet-lagged Liverpool FC survived a 6-5 victory over Frenz United Indonesia (FUI) in this high-scoring opening Group A match in the Frenz U18 International Cup 2015 (FIC) at Stadium Gelora Sriwijaya in Jakabaring, Palembang today.
The defeat was a blow to FUI’s hopes in the tournament, which is jointly hosted by Malaysia and Indonesia,after having taken the lead five times.
“I think it was a fantastic performance from Liverpool to win this match despite just being here in Indonesia very much late,” said head coach Critchley Neil. “But we hope to play much better in the next few days.”
Dutch club Feyenoord FC pulverized China’s Guangzhou Evergrande 5-1 with fourgoals from Mans Herrmann (27th, 63rd, 67th and 70th) and Mohammed El Hankouri (57th) in another Group A match at the same venue. Wang Peng (77th) replied for Guangzhou.
In Kuala Lumpur, Japan’s Gamba Osaka and Portugal’s Porto FC opened their Group C campaignson winning modes. Gamba defeated Turkey’s Besiktas J.K. 3-1 and FC Portoedged PVF Vietnam 2-0 at the Maybank Sports Complex in Bangi. Rui Pedro Da Silva (13th) and Moreto Moro Cassama (40th) scored.
Liverpoolhad only arrived 16 hours before kick-off time in this third edition of the FIC, and were left back paddling after 20 minutes as FUI took a 2-1 lead with goals from Iranian-import Reza Habel Karimi (15th minute) and Malaysian Yugan Poobathy three minutes later.
Midfielder Nicholas Callum James pulled one back for Liverpool (19th) from a goalmouth melee, beating goalkeeper Azman Barran Muhammad Siagian.
Both FUI goals came from well-maneuvered moves by Reza and Yugan who cleverly lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Jackson Alan after he had stepped out of his territory to thwart the marauding FUI strikers – combination of talented players from Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran, after Liverpool defenders had failed in their mission.
Battling jet-lag following a 14-hour flight to Jakarta from London and then transit to Palembang, Liverpool paid the price of a slow build-up in defence as Reza helped himself to his second goal and FUI’s third in the 35th minute.
But the English club was back in the groove sooner than expected with team captain Wilson Herry scoring before the interval to narrow the gap 3-2.
FUI’s leaky defence was glaring after the breather as a rejuvenated Liverpool enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and equalised in the 52nd minute through midfielder Correia Gomes Toni but Bayu Firmansyah struck back for FUI to lead 4-3.
Liverpool were once again on track with Philip Adams knocking the ball into the net on 67th minute to draw level 4-4 before FUI substitute Rizwan Yuswan pinned Liverpool against the wall once again to go ahead 5-4 much to the delight of the fans here.
FUI, however, could not turn their dominance of the ball into the solid currency of three points and were undone in the 73rd and 75th minutes as Liverpool’s Harry scored his second and Toni fired home the winning goals.
FUI head coach, Mohamad Zahid Hashim, said: “I would have been happy if this match had ended in a draw. We took control much of the game but gave it away. We lost to individual play as Liverpool players were very commanding individually.”
Taichi Takeda and substitute Ryutaro Meshino gave sterling performances as Gamba Osaka nailed Besiktas which finished third in the last edition.
“It was a tight game and the weather here was not kind but we kept our motivation high to carry on and win the game,” said Gamba head coach Hironari Umezu.
The Japanese one-touch brand of football paid dividends in the 31st minute after Takamasa Sugiyama dummied his marker on the right flank and found Taichi who only needed a simple tap for the opening goal.
In the second half, Gamba picked up where they left off, and continued to pressure Besiktas’, keeping their goalkeeper Enes Fideyao on his toes.
Ryotaro came in for Akito Takagi in the 71st minute, but needed only three minutes to make an impact as his through pass found Takeda, who scored his second goal of the day.
Besiktas replied through Fatih Aksoy but Ryotaro restored Osaka’s two-goal lead in the 81st minute after finding the net from the edge of the box.
Match Schedule – Sunday (4 Jan, 2015):
In Palembang – Group B: S.C Internacional (Brazil) v Valencia CF (Spain) 4.0pm; Chonburi FC (Thailand) v Kashima Antlers (Japan), 8.0pm (Both matches to be played at Stadium Gelora Sriwijaya).
In Kuala Lumpur – Group D: AIFF U18 (India) v Estudiantes FC (Argentina), 4.30pm (UiTM Shah Alam Stadium); Frenz United Malaysia v Tottenham Hotspurs (England), 9.0pm (Shah Alam Stadium).