Milan lost 2-0 to Liverpool in another poor US performance, but Christian Abbiati saved Ricky Lambert’s penalty.
Pippo Inzaghi famously bagged a brace to beat Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League Final, but was here on the bench aiming to salvage some pride from the Rossoneri’s disastrous US tour. They had lost 3-0 to Olympiacos and 5-1 to Manchester City, so met the Reds in Charlotte, North Carolina. Brendan Rodgers’ team had already qualified for the International Champions Cup Final in Miami, where they’ll face Manchester United.
Giampaolo Pazzini started on his 30th birthday and Christian Abbiati returned in goal, but Mario Balotelli was benched again.
A defensive howler gifted Liverpool the opener, as Michael Essien was horribly caught in possession. Joe Allen’s first attempt hit the upright, Abbiati parried from Raheem Sterling, but Allen eventually bundled over the line. As throughout this pre-season, the Milan defence was very slow to react.
Adil Rami was penalised for bundling into the back of Sterling, although the England striker went down very easily indeed. However, veteran Abbiati did well to parry the Ricky Lambert penalty. That was quite an achievement, considering Lambert has a near-perfect record from the spot, last missing five years ago for Bristol Rovers.
When Pazzini did have an opportunity, he hesitated and was closed down before he could get a shot away. Mbaye Niang went on the counter, but the finish was straight at Simon Mignolet.
Stephan El Shaarawy pounced on an error just before half-time and rolled across the six-yard box for Riccardo Saponara, but Allen came sliding in with a decisive block.
Balotelli and goalkeeper Gabriel came on for the second half, the striker’s free kick deflected off target from distance and Essien managed to charge down
The shot-stopper collided with Mattia De Sciglio as he rushed out to clear, leaving the defender with injured ribs and needing to be replaced.
Steven Gerrard drilled wide from distance, then Keisuke Honda’s chipped pass allowed Niang to spring the offside trap, but Mignolet was at full stretch to get his fingertips to the finish.
In the final 15 minutes Milan finally pushed forward, but Muntari’s volley was deflected wide by Martin Skrtel. Overall it was another desperately disappointing performance in America from Inzaghi’s under-fire squad.
Liverpool finished off the job with a last-minute goal from Suso, drilled low into the far bottom corner from the D after good work from Philippe Coutinho.
Bryan Cristante had Milan’s best chance of the game in stoppages, a fierce strike palmed out from under the bar by an acrobatic Mignolet save.
Liverpool 2-0 Milan
Scorers: Allen 17 (L), Suso 89 (L)
Liverpool: Mignolet; Kelly (Skrtel 60), Kolo Touré (Can 60), Coates (Enrique 60), Robinson; Lucas Leiva (Gerrard 60), Henderson, Allen (Coutinho 60); Ibe (Sakho 60), Lambert (Peterson 60), Sterling
Milan: Abbiati (Gabriel 46); Abate (Zapata 81), Bonera, Rami (Mexes 65), De Sciglio (Albertazzi 76); Muntari (Poli 81), Essien (Cristante 65), Saponara; Niang, Pazzini (Balotelli 46), El Shaarawy (Honda 65)
Saved penalty: Lambert 28 (L)
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!