Jennifer Juneau at Stade de Suisse
90:00 Soccer, Thursday 20 September 2012
What transpired this evening at Stade de Suisse in Switzerland between Young Boys Bern (YB) and Liverpool FC was a genuine display of alacrity conveyed by both sides.
Before the start of the match, I perused the Liverpool team sheet and didn’t notice any surprises. Manager Brendan Rogers promised to pit his youngest squad members against YB in their opening Europa League group game. 18-year-old defender Andre Wisdom, 24-year-old Nuri Sahin (the on-loan midfielder who made his second appearance for Liverpool,) and 21-year-old Spanish striker Dani Pacheco were said to be travelling with the team.
While giving the reserves a workout Rogers managed to leave behind his star-studded cast: Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, José Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly were not present.
Along with the evening’s team sheet came an awakening: I thought there was something about the Europa League that’s a little disappointing. It isn’t the Champions League, players may not be dedicated to perfection.
I was happy to be wrong.
The moment the whistle blew the stadium radiated with the energy it is said to be famous for. Both teams were aligned and executed every step with the pride that earned them a place in the European match. Passing was fluent, defending was stellar, with rarely any bumbling.
Three minutes went by and an entanglement near the YB goal hands Liverpool the lead by an own goal from YB’s Juhani Ojala.
Although enthusiasm shook the atmosphere, too much enthusiasm at times, in the 17th minute the first yellow card was handed to YB’s Mario Raimondi and a minute later to YB’s Dusan Veskovac.
In the 37th minute YB came back to tie the score when a goal by Raphael Nuzzolo went tearing past the Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones and shortly afterward a Liverpool goal by Andre Wisdom in the 40th minute began to erase hope for YB.
Despite the high impact of fluidity, the first half ended at exacty 45 minutes without extra time.
The second half opened with the same verve as the first and in the 52nd minute, a header beautifully executed by YB’s Ojala made up for his own goal gaffe in the opening minutes of the match, holding the score at 2 – 2.
Liverpool goalkeeper Jones didn’t fail to impress as he made two consecutive stunning saves between the 54th and 56th minutes of the game.
In the 61st minute the first change ensued with Liverpool’s Pacheco replaced by Fabio Borini. A minute later a spectacular run by YB’s Raul Bobadilla passed to Gonzalo Zarate in what appeared as a Jamie Carragher own goal in an attempt for a save handed the credit to the YB’s Zarate.
The 64th minute saw a second change for the YB with Alexander Gonzalez stepping in for Zarate.
Liverpool’s first change of the evening came in the 67th minute with Jonjo Shelvey coming on for Oussama Assaidi, which proved to be a clever move.
In the 67th minute an astonishing Liverpool goal by Sebastian Coates nearly sealed it for the Reds.
A 68th minute change for the Young Boys showed Nuzzolo out and Christian Schneuwly in.
Throughout the second half, the Liverpool youth chased the ball as if it owed them money. Borini executed a stellar pass to Shelvey who shot it past the YB goalkeeper in the 75th minute. A minute later Downing went out for Liverpool and Raheem Sterling came on the pitch.
Liverpool’s first yellow card went to Borini in the 81st minute and three minutes later a yellow card was handed to YB’s Bobadilla for diving.
In the 87th minute Shelvey earned his second goal, allowing Liverpool to call it a night with a two goal lead over the Swiss side.
Although YB felt at home this evening amid the 31,120 spectators that appeared for the match, the three extra minutes allotted for extra time weren’t enough to save them.
To the credit of Liverpool’s reserves, if there is one reason why watching a second team is more exciting than that of any experienced side, it’s because they are starving to make a name for themselves. What’s most important is that we just got a glimpse at Liverpool FC’s future super stars.