Young Boys 3 Liverpool 5: Manager Brendan Rodgers hailed a performance full of character and – surprisingly – goals as Liverpool got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start with victory over Young Boys in Berne last night.
For only the fourth time in their history the Reds scored five in a European away tie, the last occasion having been against Finnish side Haka in a 2001 Champions League qualifier. Jonjo Shelvey, a 67th-minute substitute, stood out with two strikes while 19-year-old Andre Wisdom marked his senior debut with a header and Sebastian Coates and a Juhani Ojala own goal rounded off the scoring.
However, Liverpool looked fragile as they slipped from 2-1 up to 3-2 down after Ojala and Gonzalo Zarate had added to Nuzzolo's first-half equaliser.
With the first team having scored just nine goals in eight matches Rodgers' second string, which included three debutants, found scoring much easier. "We have come away with a young team into a European game and I want to talk about the five goals we scored which were absolutely magnificent," Rodgers said. "Of course, we could have defended better and there is no question the three goals we gave away were disappointing.
"But, to draw positives from tonight, the young players were so courageous and brave to play and show that confidence, and my senior players were very much together and kept the young guys going.
"All round it was very pleasing. It was a chance for the young players to seize that opportunity to play and I think they did that for sure. I think it is a night of great pride.
"One of the most pleasing things was we were in front and then to go behind at this level can be difficult. But it shows you the togetherness of the group because you don't win games by that margin on quality alone, you need to have the personality and the determination and I think you have seen that in bucketloads tonight."
Rodgers also had praise for Shelvey, making his 45th appearance for the senior side, and predicted a bright future for the England Under-21 international. "He has been outstanding. He is still only 20 years of age and is developing and growing all the time, and you saw his confidence when he came on."
Young Boys Wolfli, Sutter, Veskovac, Ojala, Raimondi, Zverotic (Frey, 81), Spycher, Zarate (Gonzalez, 65), Farnerud, Nuzzolo (Schneuwly, 69), Bobadilla. Substitutes not used Benito, Vitkieviez, Costanzo, Lecjaks.
Liverpool Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Sahin, Fernandez Saez, Assaidi (Shelvey, 66), Downing (Sterling, 77), Pacheco (Borini, 61). Substitutes not used Gulacsi, Wilson, Yesil, Robinson.