Shelvey sees off Young Boys in Europa classic
In terms of pure entertainment, Liverpool’s 5-3 victory away to Young Boys of Bern was as agreeable as the scoreline suggests. Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, would have preferred a less exciting affair, however, even though his youthful team opened the group stages of their Europa League campaign by collecting three points. Jonjo Shelvey, the Liverpool substitute, scored twice but the Swiss club held a 3-2 lead at one point as the visitors occasionally lacked discipline in defence and control in midfield.
"I've got to give credit to the players,” Rodgers said. “I thought they were absolutely magnificent. We had a very, very young side. I think everyone saw Tottenham come here a couple of years ago in the Champions League and what a difficult game they had.
“I thought the boys were brilliant. It was a really tough game for us. The biggest thing we showed tonight, alongside our quality, was our character. We've got a lot of young players within the group but to come from behind away from home in a European game makes me really proud. We ran out very good winners of the game and it was a fantastic game to be involved in.
“I thought all the young players that came in were absolutely fantastic, the likes of Andre getting his first game. You can see he's quick, he's strong and he's good in the opponent's box, scored a terrific goal.”
Juhani Ojala, the Young Boys defender, scored an own goal to give Liverpool lead in the fourth minute, which set the scene for a match riddled with errors and excitement. Rapahel Nuzzolo equalised for Young Boys in the 38th minute only for Liverpool to restore their advantage with a goal by Andre Wisdom two minutes later.
Ojala made it 2-2 with a fine headed goal and Gonzalo Zarate chipped the ball home to give Young Boys what seemed an improbable lead just after the hour mark. Rodgers, looking emotionless, cut an isolated figure in the dugout, as his decision to select a weakened team seemed to be backfiring.
The Young Boys lead lasted only four minutes when Sebastian Coates headed home an equaliser, paving the way for Shelvey scored in the 76th minute and in the final two minutes to secure victory.
For the neutral, this was a fine match, full of uncertainty, error, and enthusiasm, but there was too much unpredictability for Rodgers’ liking. The surprise of Liverpool’s poor defensive display was that the back four consisted of three experienced players: Jamie Carragher , Coates, and Jose Enrique.
Rodgers preferred to look at positive elements of the performance, with Suso, the midfield player, particularly impressive. “I thought young Suso was outstanding as well, a real talent and the type of player I like. He's exciting and once he adds goals to his game he's going to be outstanding. I thought Jamie Carragher led from the back with his experience, but the whole team was magnificent and the tactical discipline of the game was very good.
“We're disappointed with the goals; they were poor goals from our point. But to score five in a game like this was really special. I don't see it as courageous or brave [to select a less-than full-strength team], I just trust in my players. They are still coming to grips with how I want to play, we've got a long way to go. The most important characteristic is our fight.
“From all the senior players to the younger players, we're very much one club, and they have seized the opportunity today, and the young players did in particular. So perfect result, good performance, we'll reflect and learn from that also, which is important. It's great to get three points from the first game.”