Reds on song against Singapore

Liverpool secured their first victory of pre-season thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of Singapore at the National Stadium, with Xabi Alonso appearing as a second-half substitute despite continuing speculation regarding a possible move to Real Madrid.

With captain Steven Gerrard absent following his court appearance this week, and reports still hinting at possible departures for both Alonso and Javier Mascherano, Rafa Benitez will have been pleased to secure a convincing victory with Andrej Voronin opening the scoring in first-half injury time.

Liverpool completely dominated after the break and, after Albert Riera added the second goal, Dirk Kuyt took centre stage when selflessly claiming assists for three goals, teeing up Krisztian Nemeth twice and Fernando Torres once.

One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for Alonso though as he appeared as a substitute with 12 minutes remaining, the large contingent of Liverpool fans imploring the midfielder to resist the lure of the Bernabeu.

Despite the presence of a huge number of Reds supporters, and a warm reception prior to kick-off that saw 'You'll Never Walk Alone' played to an appreciative audience, any pretence of a friendly encounter was quickly abandoned when Aleksandar Duric flattened Mascherano with an unnecessary shoulder-barge.

Chances were few and far between in a largely uneventful first half, however, with Ryan Babel testing Hassan Sunny in the Singapore goal when connecting with David Ngog's cross after only seven minutes.

The two forwards were dovetailing neatly at times, but Liverpool failed to turn their superior possession into any clear openings as they tended to over-elaborate.

That changed in first-half injury time when Voronin took aim from just outside the box and saw his shot take a deflection to fly past the off-balance Sunny and into the net.

Riera was one of three players introduced at half-time by Rafa Benitez and the winger required just five minutes to make an impact on the game as he controlled a Mascherano pass with his chest and finished with ease.

The changes kept on coming, and substitutes Kuyt and Nemeth combined to put Liverpool 3-0 in front after 73 minutes. The Dutchman took advantage of some sloppy play from the hosts to charge down the right and tee up his young team-mate for an easy finish.

Kuyt was the creator once more after 80 minutes as he found space down the right wing and picked out Torres to leave the Spaniard with a routine finish from five yards out.

Just three minutes later, and following a clever piece of work from Dani Pacheco, Kuyt claimed his third assist when finding Nemeth, the striker scoring with a fine header from ten yards out.

It was a fine cameo performance from the Dutch forward as he helped orchestrate a dominant victory for Benitez's Reds, but Liverpool fans will be hoping that their brief glimpse of leading man Xabi Alonso is not one of their last.

Tom Adams / Eurosport

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