Celtic 1 Liverpool 0: Three lessons learned as Hoops win Dublin Decider

Celtic 1 Liverpool 0: What lessons did we learn as Neil Lennon's men win the Dublin Decider at the Aviva Stadium

Celtic
1
Liverpool
0

Aspas still looking lightweight

Where Luis Suárez will be when the summer transfer window slams shut next month remains to be seen as the striker continues to push for a move away from Anfield. So, for Iago Aspas, it was another chance to showcase his credentials ahead of next weekend’s Premier League opener against Stoke City. The Spaniard shares many of the same traits as the club’s controversial Uruguayan – he’s a cunning operator who looks to use his movement to manufacture a yard of space and weave some magic. However, the 26-year-old came up against a powerful opponent in Steven Mouyokolo which proved to be a bout between a lightweight and a heavyweight. On the few occasions Aspas did receive the ball to feet, the Celtic centre-half was quick to brush the former Celta Vigo man aside. He’s arrived from Spain with a reputation for being a feisty character and, on this showing, he’ll need to show a more steely side against physical Premier League opponents next term.

Coutinho dazzles but can’t find finishing touch

Concerns were expressed over Philippe Coutinho’s suitablility to the Premier League when the Brazilian sealed a £8.5m move to Liverpool from Inter Milan in January. But the Reds playmaker was almost as impressive when asked to track back as he was picking holes in the Celtic rearguard at The Aviva. On a number of occasions, Coutinho was able to pick the pocket of an opponent and weave a path towards Lukasz Zaluska’s goal. Such tenacity was akin to that of his fellow South American Suárez. While his tackling was an added bonus, the 21-year-old showed signs of the attacking form which made the youngster an instant Reds hit in the second half of last season. Coutinho’s dazzling feet had Celtic on the back foot throughout the friendly as he was Liverpool’s standout performer. However, frustratingly for Brendan Rodgers, the former Inter man was unable to conjure that decisive pass or final finish. Coutinho, for all his promising play, did waste Liverpool’s three best chances of the pre-season friendly but will have gained vital match sharpness ahead of the Stoke tie.

Balde tests Toure and Wisdom

Rodgers will remember Christian Benteke’s devastating performances against his side in last season’s Premier League. The Belgium international scored a stunning brace at Anfield as Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel simply couldn’t handle the striker’s unforgiving pace and power. Benteke wasn’t the only centre-forward to profit from tame Reds defending, with his compatriot Romelu Lukaku causing the Liverpool back four an equally painful headache. Rodgers started with a relatively untested centre-half pairing of Kolo Toure and Andre Wisdom against Celtic. They were tasked with marking the towering Amido Balde, who proved more than a handful. In the 12th minute, the 22-year-old got the better of Wisdom, with Toure unable to rescue his young partner as Balde ended Simon Mignolet’s four-game clean sheet run. It will be a point of concern for Rodgers ahead of their league opener against a Stoke side full of target men.

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