Jonjo Shelvey scored twice as Liverpool beat Young Boys 5-3 in the Europa League
Last Updated: September 21, 2012 9:04am
A largely youthful Liverpool side kicked off their Europa League campaign with a 5-3 victory over Young Boys following a topsy-turvy encounter in Switzerland.
Brendan Rodgers, who left most of his big names back on Merseyside, saw his team twice take a first-half lead before coming from behind to start Group A on a winning note.
Liverpool were in front after just four minutes in comical fashion when Christoph Spycher headed Stewart Downing's cross from the right against team-mate Juhani Ojala and the ball bounced into the net.
But the Reds' defensive frailties gifted Young Boys an equaliser on 38 minutes when Jose Enrique dithered in the box as Brad Jones came out to meet the ball and the full-back's clearance went straight to Raphael Nuzzolo, who curled home.
The visitors were back in front before half-time, though, when debutant Andre Wisdom rose powerfully to head home Nuri Sahin's left-wing corner.
Alexander Farnerud struck the post for Young Boys before half-time and then was involved in the second equaliser when his cross was helped back by Raul Bobadilla for Ojala to head home on 52 minutes.
With momentum building, Young Boys took the lead on 63 minutes when Bobadilla proved too strong for Jamie Carragher on the halfway line and his threaded pass played in Gonzalo Zarate to dink the ball beyond Jones.
Yet, in a remarkably open game, Liverpool were level within four minutes when Sebastian Coates' header crept inside the post after substitute Fabio Borini had failed to apply a touch.
Liverpool substitute Jonjo Shelvey then proved the difference as he finished first time to make it 4-3 on 76 minutes before adding the coup de grace two minutes from time.
Rodgers wanted to give his younger players a chance to prove they were good enough and while they may not have convinced him he will not have to make 11 changes for Sunday's visit of Manchester United - having left the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home - they at least displayed the character he was looking for.
Despite concerns about the inexperience of the squad, having left eight senior players behind, the average age of the starting line-up was 24 - although that was pushed up slightly by 34-year-old Jamie Carragher.
Their veteran centre-back was the only player on the field who played in Liverpool's last away win in European competition - excluding qualifiers - when the Reds beat Romanians Unirea in February 2010.
The comedy started in the fourth minute when the Young Boys' defence got themselves in a tangle for no discernible reason.
Downing's right-wing cross did not look to be threatening but Spycher headed the ball back across goal and it hit his central defensive partner Ojala before going in.
That was only the beginning as Wisdom's inexperience at this level caught him out when he went to fetch the ball thinking he had a throw-in.
While he was off the pitch a ballboy tossed another to Young Boys, who quickly restarted, leaving Wisdom - more accustomed to the reserve team where you fetch your own ball - running back on still carrying the ball he had chased.
But if that error was down to inexperience, Enrique's decision to dribble away from the hands of Jones in the 38th minute was bad judgement as he passed straight to Nuzzolo - who drilled in a first-time shot before Jones had time to recover properly.
Wisdom, however, came to his defensive colleague's rescue two minutes later when he produced a huge leap to head home Sahin's corner.
The goal was Liverpool's 200th in this competition since they first took part in 1967-68.
Wisdom was also the first Reds defender to score on his club debut since Gabriel Paletta in October 2006 - which is where the England Under 19 international will want the comparison to end.
Just before the break Farnerud, who had earlier failed in trying to claim a penalty for Carragher's challenge, hit a low shot against Jones' right-hand post.
The second half was less than 10 minutes old when Raul Bobadilla was given far too much room on the right to pick out the run of Ojala to head in at the far post.
When Bobadilla outmuscled both Carragher and Suso, another debutant, to send Zarate down the right the Argentinian neatly dinked over Jones.
Liverpool needed a quick response and it came within four minutes as Coates' looping header crept in at the far post with substitute Borini claiming a touch which was barely - if at all - there.
Borini had a more decisive influence on the fourth goal as he picked out Jordan Henderson's run and the midfielder cut the ball back for Shelvey to fire home - and the same player added a similar second late on.
Rodgers' maiden Europa League campaign is up and running in the most unlikely way - and the Northern Irishman will be pleased his selection gamble did not backfire on him.
|BSC Young Boys||Team Statistics||Liverpool|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|6||Shots on Target||5|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
|39.2||1st Half Poss.||60.8|
|48.8||2nd Half Poss.||51.2|
Thu 20th Sep - Group A
Young Boys3 - 5Liverpool
Udinese1 - 1A Mak'kala
Thu 20th Sep - Group B
Hap Tel-Aviv0 - 3A Madrid
Plzen3 - 1Academica
Thu 20th Sep - Group C
AEL0 - 0M'gladbach
Fenerbahce2 - 2Marseille
Thu 20th Sep - Group D
Maritimo0 - 0Newcastle
Bordeaux4 - 0Club Brugge
Thu 20th Sep - Group E
Stuttgart2 - 2S Bucuresti
FC Cop'hagen2 - 1Molde
Thu 20th Sep - Group F
Dnipro2 - 0PSV
Napoli4 - 0AIK
Thu 20th Sep - Group G
Genk3 - 0Videoton
Sporting0 - 0Basel
Thu 20th Sep - Group H
Inter2 - 2Rubin
Partizan0 - 0Neftchi
Thu 20th Sep - Group I
Lyon2 - 1Sp Prague
Ath Bilbao1 - 1Hapoel KS
Thu 20th Sep - Group J
Tottenham0 - 0Lazio
Maribor3 - 0Panathinaikos
Thu 20th Sep - Group K
Rapid Vienna1 - 2Rosenborg
Leverkusen0 - 0Metalist
Thu 20th Sep - Group L
Levante1 - 0Helsingborgs
Twente2 - 2Hannover
Europa League Group A
|3||BSC Young Boys Bern||6||10|
Europa League Group B
|1||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||13|
Europa League Group C
Europa League Group D
Europa League Group E
|1||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||11|
Europa League Group F
Europa League Group G
|3||Videoton FC Fehervar||6||6|
Europa League Group H
Europa League Group I
|4||Hapoel Kiryat Shmona||6||2|
Europa League Group J
Europa League Group K
Europa League Group L