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  • July 21, 2012
  • • 4:00 PM
  • • Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto 1-1 Liverpool: Lucas returns for LFC as Rodgers starts with a draw

Toronto 1-1 Liverpool: Lucas returns for LFC as Rodgers starts with a draw

Tom Szczerbowski

Brendan Rodgers' debut in the dugout of Liverpool ended with a tie against the Canadians, with the return of influential Brazilian midfielder Lucas a welcome sign.

Brendan Rogers' first game in charge of Liverpool ended with a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC in the World Football Challenge clash at the Rogers Centre on Saturday.

Chances remained at a premium in a tepid first half, and the ex-Swansea boss' debut did not seem to be going according to plan after a 58th minute opener from Quincy Amarikwa. However, Adam Morgan restored parity 11 minutes later, profiting from a great run by Raheem Sterling to salvage the result for the English side in the first game of its preseason tour of North America.

Rogers opted for a mix of youth and experience to begin the match, with prospects such as Dani Pacheco and Nathan Eccleston starting alongside more experienced heads like Jose Enrique and Jamie Carragher. Meanwhile, Toronto coach Paul Mariner named a strong XI featuring captain Torsten Frings in midfield, though leading scorer Danny Kovermans was absent after suffering a season-ending knee injury in a league fixture last Saturday.

The former German international fashioned the first opportunity of the match after seven minutes, slipping in Ryan Johnson in space, but Brad Jones was alert to tip his effort around the post.

Liverpool survived the early scare and soon settled into a rhythm, adopting the comfortable passing game that was a hallmark of Rogers’ time as Swansea City. However, its possession failed to reap rewards in front of goal, as Toronto’s numbers at the back prevented the Premier League outfit from finding a way through.

The second half saw Rogers, as expected, send out an entirely different XI, with the likes of Martin Skrtel and Joe Cole making an appearance amid another crop of youngsters.

Mariner followed suit, making 10 changes at the break, including forward Amarikwa, who only signed for Toronto earlier in the day as cover for the injured Kovermans. And Amarikwa would make an instant impact with his new club just before the hour mark, pouncing on the rebound from a Peter Gulasci save to power the MLS side into the lead.

Liverpool would not be down for long though, and drew level in the 69th minute. Sterling did all the hard work, squeezing past three defenders before dragging a shot across goal that was turned home by Morgan.

There was more good news for the English side on 75 minutes, as Lucas was summoned from the bench to replace Krisztian Adorjan, the Brazilian's first appearance since a cruciate ligament injury suffered last December.

Liverpool almost snatched a winner with the last kick of the game, but Quillian Roberts held on well to Sterling's powerfully struck effort from distance.

Liverpool will square off against Roma next Wednesday, and Toronto returns to league action against the Houston Dynamo in one week’s time.

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