Bangkok: Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho outshone want-away striker Luis Suarez with a fabulous individual performance in Liverpool's 3-0 win over Thailand on Sunday.
The attacking midfielder opened the scoring with a brilliant solo goal in the first half and he picked out Spanish forward Iago Aspas for Liverpool's well-taken second shortly after the break.
Captain Steven Gerrard scored the third goal and also hit the woodwork as Brendan Rodgers' team completed their Asian tour with their third clean sheet in three games.
Suarez, a high-profile transfer target of Arsenal, played the final half-hour at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium but could not add to the score despite rattling the crossbar with a header.
Both Coutinho, who joined the club from Inter Milan in January, and Aspas, a new signing from Celta Vigo, scored their second goals of the tour in a welcome pre-season boost for Rodgers.
"It was an excellent game and there were three great goals," Rodgers said. "Our level of intensity was just right. All credit to the Thai team, they played very well." Rodgers said Suarez still "had some way to go" in fitness levels but would step up training as the season nears. "Suarez is very much a Liverpool player," he said.
Liverpool dominated the early stages with Fabio Borino putting in a lot of hard running. A neat pass from Glen Johnson put the Italian striker through but Thai goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool made a fine block.
However, it was Coutinho who caught the eye with some deft passes and ball-control, and along with Gerrard the duo were dominating the midfield.
And in the 16th minute, Coutinho made the breakthrough. Seizing on a loose ball, he beat two Thai defenders before slotting the ball past the 'keeper, much to the delight of the crowd. Thailand were limited to occasional raids with star striker Teerasil Dangda sending the ball whistling past the right post. A few minutes later, a crisp shot from Sarawut Masook brought a fine save from Liverpool's newly acquired Belgian 'keeper Simon Mignolet. Liverpool began the second half brightly and within four minutes, Coutinho threaded a ball to Aspas, whose sublime first touch gave him an easy finish past the goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead.
And in the 59th minute, Gerrard sparked the biggest cheers of the night when he neatly chipped the ball past the 'keeper after more fine work by Aspas. A huge roar greeted the arrival of Suarez with half-an-hour to go, echoing his reception earlier this week in Melbourne.
Gerrard should have grabbed his second goal late on, when he was first thwarted by the 'keeper and then saw his shot from the rebound come back off the bar. The Thai team kept plugging away but could not find their way past a solid Liverpool defence which has gone unbreached on the Asian tour, after 2-0 victories over both an Indonesia XI and Melbourne Victory. Rodgers said Liverpool had seen "incredible" support on the tour with more than 95,000 fans watching them at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and another packed stadium in Bangkok on Sunday.
Story first published on: Sunday, 28 July 2013 19:38 IST