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International Champions Cup
2 August 2014
• Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
J. Allen 24'
That's all we have time for from the Bank of America Stadium, as Liverpool make their way to the International Champions Cup final against Manchester United on Monday. Milan failed to impress once again, with Rodgers' charges doing just enough to surpass their opposition. I've been Simon Harrison and I hope to see you again next time.
FULL TIME! Liverpool win 2-0 in North Carolina, comfortably dispatching of a lacklustre Milan side. The Rossoneri only kicked into gear for short periods, with goals from Joe Allen and Suso enough to push Rodgers' men over the line.
90' + 3'
GREAT SAVE FROM MIGNOLET! Cristante unleashes a fantastic effort from 20 yards, but the Belgian goalkeeper is alert to the danger and fully extends to tip the ball behind for a corner! Sakho hoofs clear at the back post.
90' + 1'
Balotelli lines up a strike from range, but Mignolet is easily able to gather up the ball and continue with his business as usual. Milan's star striker just hasn't quite been able to get firing tonight.
GOOOOOOAL! SUSO MAKES IT TWO! The Spaniard fires a low drive into the bottom right corner, leaving Gabriel clutching at thin air! He combines brilliantly with Coutinho, before making no mistake with his finish! Liverpool lead 2-0!
Liverpool continue to press high up the field and force Milan into going long, as Rodgers' men maintain their professional level of performance in America. Milan certainly haven't been anywhere near their best, but there's still a slim chance they can find a late equaliser.
Less than five minutes of normal time remains for Milan to try and take some points from this friendly tournament, rather than bowing out rather embarrassingly. This isn't competitive and means nothing, of course, but losing heavily isn't good for any club's preparation or dressing room spirit.
Almost a perfect opportunity for Peterson! Enrique is found in an advanced position on the left-hand side by a crossfield ball, before turning a first-time cross towards the edge of the Milan box. The young Swede tries his luck with an ambitious volley, but misses the ball entirely!
Honda curls a cross in towards the back post for Niang to attack, but the young Frenchman can't get anywhere near it due to it being placed far too high above him. Milan have had something of a resurgence in the past ten minutes, with Mignolet actually forced into more than routine stops.
More set pieces come to nothing for Milan, whose free-kicks and corners have been fairly wasteful. Zapata and Poli are readying themselves on the sideline, before eventually making their way onto the field in place of Muntari and Abate.
MUNTARI GOES CLOSE! A Balotelli free-kick is half-cleared, before the loose ball falls to the Ghanaian midfielder. He tries his luck with a half-volley, which is deflected behind for a corner. The set piece is flighted in, but Mignolet gets just enough of a glove on the ball to turn it behind for yet another corner.
GREAT SAVE FROM MIGNOLET! Niang goes on a mazy run, opening up the Liverpool defence, but the Belgium international goalkeeper gets down to his left smartly to hook the ball from the Frenchman's foot with his outstretched arm.
A gap opens up from around 30 yards, allowing for Gerrard to let fly from range! The Liverpool captain gets plenty behind it, but Gabriel always has his angles covered, allowing the shot to miss the target and thud into the advertising hoardings.
After some extensive treatment, Gabriel is back to his feet, but De Sciglio is replaced by Albertazzi. The young left-back was absolutely clattered by his own goalkeeper, leaving him rather tender on the sideline.
A long ball forward from Gerrard causes confusion in the Milan lines, with Gabriel and De Sciglio colliding after a lack of communication. The substitute shot-stopper appears to knee his own defender in the midriff, leaving the Italy international badly winded on the turf.
Milan continue to try and break up play with some rather physical tackles, with Inzaghi's men having to opt for brawn over brains once again. They've got the athletes required in their squad, but real quality is sorely lacking. Since Liverpool threw on their first-team players, Milan haven't have a sniff offensively.
Twenty minutes of normal time are left on the clock for Milan to find an equaliser, which would of course take this game to a penalty shootout. There's no extra-time in this tournament, meaning that we only have 90 minutes of open play guaranteed.
Peterson shows a nice piece of skill, dragging the ball back with one foot before sliding it between two players with the other, earning himself some applause from the crowd. The young Swedish forward certainly has an opportunity to show his coach what he's capable of this evening.
Honda is penalised for a rather bizarre foul, as the former CSKA Moscow midfielder loses his balance and throws himself headfirst into his opponent's ankles. This Milan side have got plenty of fight in them, but continue to lack the individual quality to cause Liverpool plenty of problems.
Inzaghi opts to make three substitutions, with Mexes, Honda and Cristante checking in, as the Italian coach tries to match Rodgers' new personnel.
There's much more energy on the field of play now for Liverpool, with the sheer number of changes leading to plenty of fresh legs. Their pressing has been revitalised, while there is much more offensive inspiration and creativity to draw upon. Milan have become slightly subdued.
The likes of Skrtel, Sakho, Johnson, Enrique, Gerrard, Coutinho, Peterson and Can have come into the fray, with play perhaps becoming slightly fractured while the new personnel bed themselves into the pace of the game. Given Liverpool's guaranteed progression to the final, this is simply a training game for Rodgers.
With half an hour to go, Rodgers chooses to shuffle his pack. A stream of yellow shirts take to the field, with nearly an entire change in personnel. Milan now face a much sterner test, with many more first-team faces now involved.
Abate threads a good ball down the right channel for Saponara to chase, but the midfielder fails to take the pass in his stride and Liverpool clear. Ibe breaks down the left flank with real pace, leaving Rami in his wake, but his cut-back is hoofed away by Bonera.
Plenty of substitutes are warming up on the sidelines for both sides, with both coaches having a wealth of options at their disposal. Ibe goes down holding his toe, after appearing to be caught off the ball, but the teenager gets gingerly back to his feet and should be fine to continue.
Some respite for Liverpool, as Kelly manages to earn his side a corner on the right-hand side. Suso delivers to Coates at the front post, but the Uruguayan can only turn an acrobatic half volley into a ruck of Rossoneri defenders.
El Shaarawy looks to scamper into the penalty area, but Coates stands strong to muscle the winger off the ball - causing the Italian to tentatively call for a penalty. Milan continue to maintain their high tempo, with Liverpool dropping deep with plenty of men behind the ball.
Niang and Balotelli combine well down the right-hand side, before the Frenchman's attempted second pass is easily cut out. There's a bit more offensive belief from Milan thus far, while Rodgers' side are struggling to break out of their own half.
Balotelli is already giving Milan a bit of something different, as the former Man City striker is keen to beat his man and seemingly entertain the crowd. Inzaghi's men have looked much brighter since the restart, but Liverpool's defence is standing firm.
Mario Balotelli wins an early free-kick, with the Italy international dusting himself down and taking the dead ball himself, earning Milan a corner due to a deflection off the wall. Coates, however, is able to head clear.
A couple of changes for either side, as Mario Balotelli and Gabriel come into the fray in place of Pazzini and Abbiati. Liverpool, meanwhile, bring on Connor Coady and Suso, with Henderson and Sterling withdrawn.
We're back underway in the second half at the Bank of America Stadium, with Liverpool going through to the International Champions Cup final regardless of tonight's result. Milan are yet to take any points at the tournament, a record they'll be wanting to set straight.
Inzaghi's men have looked lacklustre and quick to resort to physicality to combat the tricky options of Ibe and Sterling, in yet another performance which isn't typical of the Rossoneri. The former Primavera coach might just be forced to ring the changes in order to grab an opening goal - be sure to rejoin us for all of the second half action!
Lambert could have made it two from the penalty spot, but the usually reliable taker saw his effort saved by Abbiati. Allen contributed at both ends, putting in a goal-saving interception to deny an El Shaarawy cross, as the Merseyside club put in the more admirable performance of the first half.
HALF TIME! Liverpool head into the dressing room with a one-goal lead, despite tempers rising at the end! After Henderson went to ground on the edge of the Milan box, the Italian side's players surrounded the former Sunderland man to give him a piece of their minds. Allen's early goal is still the only thing separating the two teams.
There are two minutes of stoppage time.
Fantastic recovery from Allen! Robinson makes a mistake at right-back, allowing for El Shaarawy to get to the byline and cut back a cross. The midfielder matches his runner all of the way, before sliding in at the near post to intercept the dangerous cross and defuse the situation.
A combination of Toure and Allen manages to head the Milan set piece delivery clear, before Ibe tries to break upfield. De Sciglio cynically fouls the teenager, as the Rossoneri continually resort to physical treatment whenever the lightweight forward gets on the ball, earning the left-back a booking.
Niang drives at the Liverpool defence, before trying to cut inside Kelly, but Henderson covers his full-back well to step in and clear the ball behind for a corner.
Less than five minutes of normal time to play in this first half, with Liverpool certainly the more dominant side at the moment. Henderson plays a crisp pass into the feet of Lambert, but the former Bristol Rovers striker's touch escapes him and Milan are able to clear.
Niang finally manages to test Mignolet, but the Belgian goalkeeper merely has to stoop to his left to get his body behind the ball and smother the shot. The Frenchman looks to be one of the only Milan players motivated at the moment, possibly due to a few words Inzaghi had in his ear during the cooling break.
Around ten minutes are left until the interval, with Liverpool keen to try and double their advantage to give them a comfortable lead. Ibe wins a free-kick after having his legs hacked from underneath him by Muntari, but the resulting dead ball situation is wasted - the Milan wall does its job.
Sterling drives inside from the left flank, but strikes the ball off-balance and sends his shot hurtling into the stands! High, wide and not particularly handsome from the youngster, despite him being Liverpool's main offensive spark thus far.
The game is back underway and Inzaghi took some time out during that cooling break to give his players some extra instructions and encouragement. They've not looked good coming forward, but they've certainly got a lot of grit in central areas.
Both sides make their way to their benches for a short cooling break, to allow the players to take on plenty of fluids in the hot conditions.
Kelly is booked after appearing to grab the shirt of Pazzini, with the experienced striker taking it off to demonstrate to the referee what the young full-back had done. Milan eventually get to whip in their corner delivery, but it is easily cleared at the near post.
PENALTY SAVED BY ABBIATI! Lambert places his spot-kick to the right of the goal, but the Milan goalkeeper guesses the right way and the ball is at a comfortable height for the 37-year-old to push away to safety!
PENALTY FOR LIVERPOOL! Saponara whips in a cross from the right, but Muntari can't rise sufficiently over Kelly to turn a header towards goal! Liverpool break upfield immediately, which leads to Sterling being felled clumsily by Rami.
Abate is flustered once again, forced to chase back towards his own goal with Sterling giving chase. The right-back gives away a corner voluntarily, before Milan manage to clear their lines at the near post.
Henderson feeds Kelly down the right-hand channel, before the right-back cuts back a cross from the byline! It skids through the gap in between Abbiati and Bonera but Lambert is beaten to the delivery at the back post by Abate!
Rodgers' men appear happy to let Milan have the ball, perhaps safe in the knowledge that the Rossoneri are looking very low on ideas. In their midfield three, they don't really have any true quality, which makes Liverpool's organised banks very hard to break down.
Sterling cuts in from the left-hand side, before putting the ball onto his right foot and letting fly. It's directed straight at Abbiati, who smothers it easily at the first time of asking. Ibe and Sterling haven't been as electrifying as predicted before kick-off, but the youngsters have been tracking back well to do their defensive duty off-the-ball too.
Well, all of Milan's good work has been undone by an Essien error. Saponara attempts to flight in a cross from the right-hand side, but Mignolet is once again quick off his line to catch the ball. Going forward, the Rossoneri haven't been able to muster up anything dangerous.
GOOOOOOOOOAL! ALLEN FINDS THE BOTTOM CORNER! The midfielder picks up on an Essien error, before driving into the heart of the Milan defence and cracking an effort off the post! Sterling can only fire the rebound straight at Abbiati, before the loose ball falls back to Allen to turn home! Liverpool lead 1-0!
After a slow start, Milan are growing into the game. Inzaghi's men are being fairly physical in midfield, given that Liverpool's personnel are rather lightweight. Lambert hasn't been given a great deal of service for the Reds, while he lacks the pace to worry the likes of Rami and Bonera.
Lambert and Allen attempt to exchange a neat one-two, before the former Swansea midfielder appears to be blocked off and dragged to the turf. Lambert throws his arms in the air and clearly feels that Milan are being rather sly with their defending. Niang musters up a good cross from the right-hand side for the Rossoneri, but Pazzini can't quite jump high enough to make contact.
Henderson clips a long ball into the path of Lambert, but the former Southampton striker fails to make contact and Abbiati is able to claim. The England international hasn't been too happy with his treatment by the Milan defenders thus far, as he feels as though he's falling victim to physicality.
Milan move the ball from flank to flank nicely, before a big switch to De Sciglio on the left-hand side finds the full-back in plenty of space. The linesman's flag is raised for offside, however, showing how high up Inzaghi is prepared to let his wide defenders roam.
As the tempo calms down, Liverpool are the team to try and be patient with their probing, though the likes of Sterling and Ibe have a tendency to run at their man when in possession. No chances for either side, in what has been a frankly disappointing start.
Another long ball is pinged forward for Pazzini to chase, but Coates matches his man yard for yard and shepherds the pass back to Mignolet. Plenty of rushed, direct play thus far, possibly due to a result of fairly effective pressing.
Neither side have started convincingly, with both goalkeepers called regularly into action in order to mop up the scraps from inaccurate through balls. Ibe tries to drive at the centre of the Milan defence, but after showing a nice piece of skill, the 19-year-old is robbed of possession.
De Sciglio floats in a cross from the left-hand side, but Kelly manages to get a slight touch on the delivery. It hangs in the air, allowing for Mignolet to come off his line and claim easily.
Sterling hooks a cross into the Milan penalty area, which almost gets caught under the feet of Essien as the Ghanaian midfielder tries to hurriedly clear his lines. A brief fright for the Rossoneri, but the former Chelsea man eventually manages to hoof upfied.
We are underway in the first half! Liverpool are wearing their new yellow away strip, while the Rossoneri are in their famous red and black stripes. The result doesn't matter for the English side, who will face Manchester United in the final on Monday regardless!
Milan substitutes: Agazzi, Honda, Poli, Zapata, Constant, Cristante, Gabriel, Zaccardo, Mexes, Mastour, Albertazzi, Pinato, Balotelli, Modic.
Liverpool substitutes: Sakho, Can, Jones, Johnson, Enrique, Gerrard, Coutinho, Coady, Skrtel, Suso, Peterson.
There are around ten minutes remaining before kick-off, so be sure to stick around for all of the action, as Liverpool look to make it three consecutive wins in the International Champions Cup. Milan will be hoping for improvements in performance, as Inzaghi tries to figure out his best eleven for the rapidly approaching Serie A season.
Liverpool starting line-up: Mignolet; Kelly, Coates, Toure, Robinson; Henderson, Lucas; Sterling, Allen, Ibe; Lambert.
Milan starting line-up: Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Rami, De Sciglio; Essien, Muntari, Saponara; Niang, Pazzini, El Shaarawy.
TEAM NEWS: Kolo Toure and Sebastian Coates are the central defensive two for Liverpool, with young Jack Robinson slotting in at left-back. Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson will have the defensive responsibility in midfield, allowing for the young likes of Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling to support summer signing Rickie Lambert.
TEAM NEWS: Christian Abbiati returns in between the posts for Milan, with Mattia de Sciglio out on the left and Ignazio Abate on the right of defence - the Rossoneri's strongest full-back combination. Michael Essien partners Sulley Muntari in central midfield, while M'Baye Niang and Stephane El Shaarawy look to provide the ammuntion for lone striker Giampaolo Pazzini.
I'm Simon Harrison and I will be keeping you up to date with all of the proceedings from the Bank of America Stadium, as Milan look to end a two game losing streak with a performance that can give their fans something to be positive about. Several key players are yet to return after the World Cup, but a bit of pressure is already starting to mount on former Primavera coach Inzaghi.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Liverpool's International Champions Cup clash against Milan, as Brendan Rodgers' side looks to progress into the next round in style. After defeating both Olympiakos and Man City previously, confidence is high, especially considering Pippo Inzaghi's men haven't managed to record a single point against the same opposition.
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