Last Saturday, Manchester United cruised to a 5-1 win over a team that was made to represent the best talent the A-League has to offer. An undermanned Melbourne Victory side proved the All Stars were far from a true reflection on the standard of the Australian league.
Just four players from the Melbourne Victory side that faced Liverpool on Wednesday are over 21 years old, with notable exclusions including Melbourne's latest best and fairest winner, Mark Milligan, star striker Archie Thompson, and recent signing Mitch Nichols, all of whom are on international duty.
Also missing through injury were Brazilian playmaker, Gui Finkler, and full-back Adama Traore, while Liverpool fielded a near full strength squad, with Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho the only players missing from the game.
Over 95,000 people packed into the MCG to witness the spectacle. And, they were not disappointed. A spine-tingling rendition of the Liverpool anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone' set the scene just moments before kick off.
It would be easy to forget that Melbourne Victory were the home team with the stadium flooded by a sea of red. Liverpool fans made themselves known throughout the night, with pockets of the stadium rising to their feet each time their idol, Steven Gerrard, went to take a corner.
The obvious bias of the crowd didn't appear to phase the young Melbourne Victory squad, with wingers Andrew Nabbout and Connor Pain proving to be a handful for the Liverpool defence. Conversely, the Melbourne Victory defence stood up to the barrage of attacks that came their way.
Despite promising build-up play from the A-League side early in the game, Gerrard was able to open the scoring after half an hour. Melbourne refused to give in however, and while making several chances of their own, they held Liverpool to a one goal margin right up until the last kick of the game when Spanish recruit, Iago Aspas tapped in a second goal after a cross from Luis Suarez, who is tipped to be headed to Arsenal before the start of the new season in August.
Melbourne Victory coach, Ange Postecoglou was suitably impressed with the way his young side played: "I thought the whole group stood up. Our senior group stood up too. We played our football against a very good team."
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was also quick to praise the young side after the game: "Melbourne Victory can be very proud and I can see why they are such a big team here in Australia."
The new A-League season starts in October, and if Melbourne Victory can take their pre-season form into the competition, expect them to be in contention for their third title.
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