Football

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.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Sunderland
Football
Premier League
Xabi Alonso
Daniel Pacheco
Alex
Manchester United
Robbie Threlfall
Tranmere Rovers
Liverpool
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