Sunday, July 22, 2007

Red Alert Torres Gets His Liverpool Eye In

Fernando Torres was introduced as a half-time substitute as Liverpool continued their preparations for the new season yesterday with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Auxerre in Switzerland.

The 23-year-old Spaniard was making his second appearance since arriving at Anfield earlier this month but, having recently recovered from a slight ankle injury, showed only glimpses of the form that encouraged Rafael Benítez to pay £26m for him.

Torres has enjoyed a low-key start to his career with the Premiership club - both his two outings have been on the Switzerland tour - but he will gain a taste of things to come when Liverpool arrive in Hong Kong for the Barclays Asia Trophy, where they play South China and then either Fulham or Portsmouth.

While Torres is still awaiting his first start Benítez's most recent signings, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun, were handed theirs against the French Ligue 1 side. But it was Steven Gerrard who caught the eye, ending a bland first 45 minutes with the opening goal seconds before half-time.

Daniel Agger completed the victory with a header from the impressive Nabil El Zhar's cross but the manner in which Liverpool's defence was cut open in the second half will concern Benítez.

"It was a strange game in many ways because we didn't play to our normal level yet we managed to score two good goals," said the Spaniard. "It was very hot conditions and we have been training hard, so we expected the players to feel a little tired. We have enjoyed our training camp in Switzerland and the players have worked very hard."

After Hong Kong Liverpool play in the Rotterdam Tournament - their last stop before the new season.

Carragher Ready For Asia Trophy Battle

Defender Jamie Carragher says the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong will give Liverpool a much needed fitness boost for the new season.

The Reds defeated Auxerre 2-0 in Fribourg on Friday afternoon before jetting out to Hong Kong for a game against a team from South China and then one against either Fulham or Portsmouth in the tournament.

In addition to handing legions of Liverpool fans in the Far East the opportunity to see their heroes in the flesh, Carragher insists it will provide the squad a chance to find their shaprness and allow the new boys to settle into the side.

"We haven't been there for a long time but we know we've got a lot of fans over there, so it will be nice for them and all the players are looking forward to it," he told the club's website.

"It's something different and will be a new experience for some of the lads. But the main thing is to go, improve our fitness and make sure we don't pick up any injuries.

"Team spirit is good at the moment. There's a lot of new faces but everyone is settling in really well."

Boss Rafa Benitez added: "We know that we have a lot of fans in Hong Kong and are looking forward to playing in front of them again.

"I'm sure they will give us wonderful support and we will do our best to win the Barclays Asia Trophy for them."