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Marcotti's Musings
By ESPN Staff

Gerrard suffers groin injury in Valerenga rout

Liverpool's increasingly impressive unbeaten pre-season run was stretched to seven games via a 4-1 win against Valerenga in Oslo - but they suffered the worrying loss of skipper Steven Gerrard.

The midfielder limped off in the first half of this comfortable victory with what looked like a recurrence of a groin problem that has dogged him in recent weeks.

Liverpool will hope they took Gerrard out of the action before any further serious damage could be done, but with a Champions League qualifier in a week's time against Standard Liege, this is a problem boss Rafael Benitez could do without.

Benitez also saw players he may have to sell soon - Xabi Alonso and Yossi Benayoun - score outstanding goals. Both could be used to raise the cash to buy Gareth Barry.

Roma have admitted an interest in Benayoun while Arsenal are being linked with Alonso, but both made it clear with their performances they do not want to leave Anfield.

Liverpool's starting line-up was as near to the expected starting team for the trip to Liege as Benitez could manage. Only keeper Jose Reina was missing at the start of this friendly in Oslo's Ullevaal stadium.

Brazilian keeper Diego Cavalieri was again in the side, as was Italian full-back Andrea Dossena.

But it was Alonso who stole the show with a 20th-minute cracker to put the visitors ahead. Benayoun was involved in the build-up before Robbie Keane's flick gave Alonso the chance to curl home from 25 yards.

The loss of Gerrard after 27 minutes, though, was a worrying blow. After bursting from defence, he pulled up with what seemed a recurrence of the injury that has disrupted his pre-season. Teenager Jay Spearing took over.

Liverpool lost their way for a while, with Serbian striker Boljan Zajic twice going close from long range. Adrian Reid then headed against his own post.

Reina and Sami Hyypia came on at the break, and two minutes after the re-start a neat back-heel from Daniel Holm set-up Zajic for a clinical finish from 10 yards.

Liverpool responded within two minutes when Fernando Torres burst into the box past a couple of defenders to coolly side-foot home and restore the Anfield side's lead. Damien Plessis replaced Alonso after 53 minutes.

On the hour, Benayoun, who has worked hard to impress during pre-season to underline his desire to stay at Anfield, scored a quality goal.

He took a flick from Torres to glide past three defenders before chipping keeper Troy Perkins into the far corner with his left foot.

Liverpool then sent on youngsters Stephen Darby, Emiliano Insua, David Ngog, Krisztian Nemeth, Danny Pacheco and Nabil El Zhar for Alvaro Arbeloa, Dossena, Keane, Torres, Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt.

And after 84 minutes, French striker Ngog made it two in two games with a fine finish from Nemeth's pass, as Liverpool made it eight goals in their last two friendlies following the four they put past Rangers at the weekend.


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