Brendan Rodgers’ first game as manager of Liverpool ended in a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC thanks to Adam Morgan’s equaliser.
Quincy Amarikwa, who was acquired by Toronto from Major League Soccer rivals New York Red Bulls early on Saturday, wasted no time contributing to his new team, seizing a rebound from a Peter Gulacsi save to give the hosts the lead in the 58th minute.
The advantage was short-lived, however, as Morgan tied the score at 1-1 in the 69th minute, taking advantage of a fine run by Raheem Sterling and salvaging a draw for Liverpool in the opening match of their pre-season North American tour.
After Sterling eluded three defenders, Toronto goalkeeper Quillan Roberts managed to deflect his shot, but Morgan was there to tap it home.
Liverpool were further buoyed by the return to action of Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, who has been sidelined since November with a serious knee injury.
Rodgers went with a mix of experience and youth to open the contest, with veterans including Jose Enrique and Jamie Carragher joined in the starting XI by prospects such as Dani Pacheco and Nathan Eccleston.
Toronto coach Paul Mariner fielded close to a first-choice line-up, with the only change in the team that beat the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday coming in goal, where Freddy Hall replaced Milos Kocic.
Return for Lucas
Mariner’s side featured captain Torsten Frings in midfield, although leading scorer Danny Koevermans was absent after suffering a season-ending knee injury in a league fixture last Saturday, the reason for Amarikwa’s acquisition.
Mariner was pleased with his team’s performance, but noted that Liverpool were not at full strength. “You’ve got to temper your thoughts with where Liverpool are at, the squad that they brought over, but all you can do is your best and I thought we did well under the circumstances,” he said.
“Let’s not get carried away. If Liverpool brings their first squad and they’re further on in their pre-season or the season, they’re a top-class team with top-class players.”
After a first half that featured few scoring opportunities, Rodgers made a wholesale change for the second half, with Martin Skrtel and Joe Cole anchoring another group of young players.
In the 75th minute, Lucas was sent on to replace Krisztian Adorjan, his first appearance since suffering an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Liverpool continue their pre-season tour on Wednesday at Fenway Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, against Italian club Roma. They face English rivals Tottenham Hotspur on 28 July in Baltimore.
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Reds rescue draw on Rodgers debut
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