Aquilani makes Liverpool debut

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Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani played for 15 minutes on his long-awaited Liverpool debut on Wednesday night.

The £20million signing from Roma was on the bench for the reserves' home match with Sunderland at Tranmere's Prenton Park.

Liverpool won 2-0 courtesy of a fine free-kick from Daniel Pacheco and a header from defender Robbie Threlfall from another Pacheco free-kick.

But all eyes, including those of co-owner George Gillett, were on Aquilani, who replaced Swedish winger Alex Kacaniklic in the 75th minute.

His contributions to the game included a clever backheel, a couple of neat passes and a stunning cross-field ball, before he disappeared down the tunnel with a broad smile on his face and club doctor Mark Waller's arm around his shoulder.

Aquilani joined Liverpool in August as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, who joined Real Madrid.

But he arrived while still recovering from a summer knee operation and had not kicked a ball in anger for the Reds until tonight.

Benitez admits Aquilani has taken longer to recover than expected, but the 25 year-old had been in full training for a week before the game.

He is not being lined up for a surprise first-team debut against Manchester United on Sunday though, despite Liverpool losing their last four games, including Tuesday's Champions League defeat at home to Lyon.

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Premier League
Xabi Alonso
Daniel Pacheco
Manchester United
Robbie Threlfall
Tranmere Rovers
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