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Young Boys 3 Liverpool 5: Jonjo Shelvey wins Europa League opener for Brendan Rodgers

Young Boys 3 Liverpool 5: Shelvey wins eight-goal thriller for Rodgers' second string

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UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 20 September 2012

Liverpool escaped with their 41-year unbeaten record against Swiss teams intact but a sloppy defensive performance almost cost them in their Europa League Group A encounter against Young Boys.

That Brendan Rodgers' second-string side, which included a trio of debutants – two of whom were teenagers – scored five times was something of a surprise considering the struggles of the first-team this season.

They were given an early helping hand thanks to a comical own goal from Juhani Ojala and 19-year-old Andre Wisdom scored on his debut after Raphael Nuzzolo had equalised following a Jose Enrique error.

20/20 vision: Jonjo Shelvey sealed the tie with two late goals

20/20 vision: Jonjo Shelvey sealed the tie with two late goals

Match facts

Young Boys: Wolfli, Sutter, Veskovac, Ojala, Raimondi, Zverotic (Frey 81), Spycher, Zarate (Gonzalez 65), Farnerud, Nuzzolo (Schneuwly 69), Bobadilla.

Subs not used: Benito, Vitkieviez, Costanzo, Lecjaks.

Booked: Raimondi, Veskovac, Bobadilla.

Goal: Nuzzolo 38, Ojala 52, Zarate 63.

Liverpool: Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Sahin, Fernandez Saez, Assaidi (Shelvey 66), Downing (Sterling 77), Pacheco (Borini.

Subs not used: Gulacsi, Wilson, Yesil, Robinson.

Booked: Borini

Goals: Ojala (og) 4, Wisdom 40, Coates 67, Shelvey 76, 88.

Referee: Michail Koukoulakis (Greece).

Latest Europa League results, fixtures and table

But Ojala then headed in at the right
end and Gonzalo Zarate made it 3-2 before the match turned around again
when Sebastian Coates headed in and then Jonjo Shelvey scored twice.

It was the first time Liverpool had
scored more than once in eight European away matches and their first in
any group stage game away from home since beating PSV in December 2008.

Rodgers wanted to give his younger
players a chance to prove they were good enough and while they may not
have convinced him he will not have to make 11 changes for Sunday's
visit of Manchester United – having left the likes of Steven Gerrard and
Luis Suarez at home – they at least displayed the character he was
looking for.

Despite concerns about the
inexperience of the squad, having left eight senior players at home, the
average age of the starting line-up was 24 – although that was pushed
up slightly by 34-year-old Jamie Carragher.

Their veteran centre-back was the
only player on the field who played in Liverpool's last away win in
European competition – excluding qualifiers – when the Reds beat
Romanians Unirea in February 2010.

Celebration time: Andre Wisdom (left) is hailed by Jordan Henderson and Jesus Fernandez Saez

Celebration time: Andre Wisdom (left) is hailed by Jordan Henderson and Jesus Fernandez Saez

On target: Andre Wisdom put Liverpool 2-1 up with this header

On target: Andre Wisdom put Liverpool 2-1 up with this header

The comedy started in the fourth minute when the Young Boys' defence got themselves in a tangle for no discernible reason.

Stewart Downing's right-wing cross
did not look to be threatening but Dusan Veskovac headed the ball back
across goal and his central defensive partner Ojala headed in.

That was only the beginning as
Wisdom's inexperience at this level caught him out when he went to fetch
the ball thinking he had a throw-in.

While he was off the pitch a ballboy
tossed another to Young Boys, who quickly restarted, leaving Wisdom –
more accustomed to the reserve team where you fetch your own ball –
running back on still carrying the ball he had chased.

But if that error was down to
inexperience, Jose Enrique's decision to dribble away from the hands of
Brad Jones in the 38th minute was bad judgement as he passed straight to
Nuzzolo – who drilled in a first-time shot before Jones had time to
recover properly.

Wisdom, however, came to his
defensive colleague's rescue two minutes later when he produced a huge
leap to head home Nuri Sahin's corner.

Zero to hero: Juhani Ojada scored for both sides

Zero to hero: Juhani Ojada scored for both sides

The goal was Liverpool's 200th in this competition since they first took part in 1967-68.

Wisdom was also the first Reds
defender to score on his club debut since Gabriel Paletta in October
2006 – which is where the England Under-19 international will want the
comparison to end.

Just before the break Alexander
Farnerud, who had earlier failed in trying to claim a penalty for
Carragher's challenge, hit a low shot against Jones' right-hand post.

The second half was less than 10
minutes old when Raul Bobadilla was given far too much room on the right
to pick out the run of Ojala to head in at the far post.

When Bobadilla outmuscled both
Carragher and Suso, another debutant, to send Zarate down right the
Argentinian neatly dinked over Jones.

Liverpool needed a quick response and
it came within four minutes as Coates' looping header crept in at the
far post with substitute Fabio Borini claiming a touch which was barely –
if at all – there.

Borini had a more decisive influence
on the winner as he picked out Jordan Henderson's run and the midfielder
cut the ball back for Shelvey to fire home – and the same player added a
similar second late on.

Rodgers' maiden Europa League
campaign is up and running in the most unlikely way – and the Northern
Irishman will be pleased his selection gamble did not backfire on him.

Liverpool will play reserves in Europa League to boost domestic hopes

It's in our best interest! Rodgers admits Liverpool will play reserves in Europe

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 19 September 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he is trying to protect the club's Barclays Premier League season by fielding a virtual reserve side in Europe.

The Reds have had their worst start to a campaign in 100 years with just two points from their opening four matches and it does not get any easier with arch-rivals Manchester United heading to Anfield on Sunday.

As a result captain Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Jose Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly have all been left behind for Thursdays's Europa League clash with Swiss side Young Boys.

Guidance: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Fabio Borini during training

Guidance: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Fabio Borini during training

It means the likes of Samed Yesil,
Suso, Andre Wisdom, Conor Coady, Adam Morgan, Jack Robinson and Dani
Pacheco have all been included in the Europa League squad – which has an
average age of just 21 and includes seven teenagers.

'I can understand why people would
perceive us as not taking it seriously but I will always do what is in
the best interests of the football club,' said Rodgers.

'There is no doubt the Premier League
is our number one priority, I've made that clear from the off with the
position with our squad.

'I look at Real Madrid v Manchester
City last night and Samir Nasri came off with an injury but they have a
massive squad who can accommodate that.

'If I lose some of my key players that can make it very difficult for us for the next two or three months.

'There were parts of the game against
Arsenal (after their Europa League play-off last month) where we were a
bit leggy so we have to make sure we are all firing for Sunday.

'No matter what the perception is I
know in my own mind I've brought a team here which has a mixture of
experience and talented young players.

'I am fully aware that when you pull
on a Liverpool shirt you are expected to win the games so I've brought a
team I believe can win the game.'

Chance: Rodgers says Nuri Sahin (right) needs games to get up to speed

Chance: Rodgers says Nuri Sahin (right) needs games to get up to speed

Rodgers is effectively gambling with the
Europa League in an attempt to safeguard Liverpool's league form, a
decision brought about more out of necessity than design.

The Northern Irishman's summer recruitment was not extensive and so he does not have that many options and their difficult start to the season has compounded matters.

It means he is putting faith in the likes of players who have been in the youth and reserve set-up for a while without having forced themselves into the first team.

However, Rodgers remains confident they can do a job for him alongside the more senior players.

'You never actually know about young players until you actually put them in this situation but we have a good mixture as well,' he added.

'We have experienced international players and some very talented youngsters so I'm very much looking forward to the game.

Getting ready: Liverpool players train in the Stade de Suisse

Getting ready: Liverpool players train in the Stade de Suisse

'I've brought young players who I feel, from what I've seen in the early part of the season, can come in and contribute.'

While the youngsters are just looking for a chance to earn a longer stay in the squad Rodgers insists some of the more senior players can still stake a claim for Sunday's clash against United.

He accepts, however, it is more about keeping them sharp enough to be able to slot in when needed.

'Brad Jones will play tomorrow. He has been first class. He hasn't had a look in at all this season but he has come in and worked well,' he said.

'Guys like Jamie Carragher have been phenomenal. To see how he works and his passion to play for Liverpool is really encouraging and he is a great role model for players here.

Preparation: Brad Jones will start for Liverpool

Preparation: Brad Jones will start for Liverpool

High praise: Rodgers had only good things to say about Jamie Carragher

High praise: Rodgers had only good things to say about Jamie Carragher

'They are going to be up to speed in terms of games as the Europa League gives them chance to play.

'Boys like Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have all been working hard in training and they will get minutes under their belts so if they are required to play they will be up to speed.

'Nuri Sahin needs games to get up to speed and they all need to keep ticking over because they're important players.

'There is no question why they can't be involved at the weekend.

'The idea is for the squad to be small as it keeps players who are just on the outside the motivation that they still have an opportunity.'

FC Toronto 1 Liverpool 1: Adam Morgan rescues Reds

FC Toronto 1 Liverpool 1: Reds youngster Morgan rescues Rodgers in first game

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UPDATED:

23:05 GMT, 21 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Brendan Rodgers first game in charge of Liverpool ended in stalemate as a goal from England youth striker Adam Morgan rescued a draw here in Toronto.

Magnificently billed as a decider in the World Football Challenge, the grandiose title did not reflect the status of the game and Rodgers made no secret that his first 90 minutes in charge was simply a fact-finding mission.

Still, no manager enjoys losing and it need a poacher’s goal from Morgan, an Academy graduate who has enjoyed a prolific strike rate at age-group levels, to cancel out Quincy Amarikwa’s opener and ensure that Rodgers’ big day was not spoiled.

My ball: Liverpool's Suso, left, skips past Toronto FC's Matt Stinson and Aaron Maund

My ball: Liverpool's Suso, left, skips past Toronto FC's Matt Stinson and Aaron Maund

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool (first half 4-3-3): Jones: Wisdom, Sama, Carragher, Enrique: Aquilani, Spearing, Adam: Ibe, Ecclestone, Pacheco.

Liverpool (second half 4-3-3): Gulacsi: Flanagan, Skrtel, Wilson, Robinson: Adorjan (Lucas 74mins), Shelvey, Suso: Cole, Morgan, Sterling.

Subs: Lucas, Smith, Ward, McLaughlin

Goal: Morgan (69)

The first half, in terms of action, was instantly forgettable. Eager to give a good account of themselves, Toronto were all hustle and bustle, keeping their shape and harrying their more exalted opponents whenever they lost possession.

Sitting on Liverpool’s bench with his arms casually resting behind him, Rodgers was simply happy to soak up the action that was unfolding in front of him; only rarely did he feel compelled to leap from his pew to exhort some orders or bark his displeasure when a move broke down.

Quite frankly, the result did not matter a great deal. What Rodgers was most concerned about was seeing how players such as Charlie Adam and Alberto Aquilani fitted into his system or how young talents like Jordan Ibe, Andre Wisdom and Dani Pacheco would fare.

Of all the midfielders Liverpool possess, it would seem that Adam’s position is vulnerable and few would dispute that he will struggle to hold down a regular spot going forward. Though he showed some nice passes, more will be required in the coming weeks to impress Rodgers.

Midfield battle: Charle Adam is tackled by Toronto FC's Doniel Henry

Midfield battle: Charle Adam is tackled by Toronto FC's Doniel Henry

For Aquilani – who conjured up Liverpool’s first shot on target after 44 minutes – there is also an element of doubt about whether he will be around for when Barclays Premier League business resumes and if an offer were to arrive from Italy, Liverpool would certainly consider it.

Yet the feeling persists that there is a top class player waiting to come out of Aquilani. He looks the part; he can pass and score goals when in the mood and has the elegance to slot in to the stylish way Rodgers wants to play. Seeing how he progresses these next few weeks will be intriguing.

A sentiment, of course, which applies to Liverpool as a collective. They created the best chances of the opening 45 minutes but the closest they came to poking their noses in front was a blocked shot from Pachecho and a header from Nathan Ecclestone, which sailed wide.

First one out of the way: Brendan Rodgers applauds the fans as he walks off

First one out of the way: Brendan Rodgers applauds the fans as he walks off

Rodgers made wholesale changes after the break – he fielded a completely new and largely youthful 11, with Joe Cole and Martin Skrtel the only recognised ‘seniors’ – but shuffling the pack did not bring about instant dividends.

In fact, the opposite was true. Toronto took the lead after 58 minutes when Amarikwa pounced after goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi has failed to hold on to a stinging drive from Sergio Camargo. As Amarikwa ostentatiously celebrated, a shake of the head from Rodgers confirmed it was a poor goal to concede.

Parity, however, was restored within 10 minutes. Raheem Sterling, the young winger for whom Liverpool have such high hopes, darted into the area and his cross-cum-shot was gobbled up by the 18-year-old Morgan from close range.

No spare seats: Liverpool and Toronto play in the World Football Challenge at the Rogers Centre

No spare seats: Liverpool and Toronto play in the World Football Challenge at the Rogers Centre

With obtaining fitness the overriding priority, Rodgers took the opportunity to give Brazilian midfielder Lucas his first run out since last November and the Brazilian was given a warm ovation from the crowd. His introduction was significant as he will play a big role for Rodgers.

What Lucas could not do, however, was inspire a winning goal. The game petered out tamely and now it is on to Boston for Rodgers and Company, where they face AS Roma on Wednesday night before finishing their tour in Baltimore next Saturday against Tottenham.

Daniel Pacheco calls Glen Johnson negrito

Suarez race row threatens to re-open as Liverpool player calls team-mate Johnson 'negrito' on Twitter

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UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 6 June 2012

The Luis Suarez race storm that rocked English football last season has been blown open once more after Liverpool forward Daniel Pacheco referred to team-mate Glen Johnson as 'negrito' on Twitter.

The Spaniard, 21, used the word when wishing England international Johnson luck as he headed to Poland for Euro 2012 on Wednesday. He tweeted: '@glen_johnson good luck negrito !!!!'

You twit: Pacheco's tweets have reopened the Suarez race row

You twit: Pacheco's tweets have reopened the Suarez race row

You twit: Pacheco's tweets have reopened the Suarez race row

Flashpoint: Suarez (left) and Evra clash in October

Flashpoint: Suarez (left) and Evra clash in October

Suarez was charged and banned by the FA
for eight games for repeatedly calling Patrice
Evra 'negrito' during a clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield
in October.

In his unsuccessful defence, Uruguayan
Suarez argued that 'negrito' was not a derogatory term in the Spanish
language, despite its racial connotations in English.

Pacheco later defended his use of the word with similar reasoning, tweeting: 'I Allready explained in past what Negrito could mean. Good or bad depends how you say it. I always called @glen_johnson it in terms of love.'

He added: 'Last tweet about it. @gln glen_johnson speak spanish and he knows what that mean when I say it to him. He is one of best mates there for me.'

Pacheco has made just seven appearances for Liverpool since joining the club in 2007. He spent last season on loan at Rayo Vallecano via a separate loan spell at Atletico Madrid, who have an option to buy the Spain Under-21 international this summer.

Lion: Johnson (centre) is part of England's Euro 2012 squad

Lion: Johnson (centre) is part of England's Euro 2012 squad