Stevan Jovetic scored twice on his debut as a clinical Hertha Berlin side recorded a confidence-boosting 4-3 friendly victory over Liverpool on Thursday.
Jovetic began on the bench having only joined the club earlier this week, but fellow newcomers Kevin-Prince Boateng and Suat Serdar both started for the Old Lady. Liverpool were marginally on top in the opening exchanges, albeit without ever seriously threatening Alexander Schwolow's goal, so when Hertha opened the scoring it was against the run of play somewhat. Marvin Plattenhardt's in-swinging free-kick from the right was prodded in at the back post by Santiago Ascacibar, before Serdar rifled in a stunning second from a tight angle just after the half-hour mark. Jürgen Klopp's side subsequently began to play with greater purpose and intensity and were level at half-time thanks to goals from Sadio Mane and Takumi Minamino.
The match followed a similar pattern after the interval, with Liverpool enjoying more possession but Hertha adding to the scoreline. Jovetic entered the pitch on the hour mark and had his first goal just minutes later when he ghosted into the box between two defenders to head in Dodi Lukebakio's pinpoint delivery from the right. The 31-year-old grabbed another in the closing stages, dribbling past Virgil van Dijk - who celebrated his comeback from a long-term injury in this game - before smashing into the net from 10 yards. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reduced the deficit once again shortly before the final whistle with a thumping volley, but Hertha held on to collect a win that will stand them in good stead as the new 2021/22 Bundesliga season fast approaches.
- New signing Jovetic has scored 103 career goals, alongside 51 assists, in 365 appearances at club level.
- The Montenegrin had met Liverpool twice previously, while at Fiorentina and Man City, and also scored a brace on each occasion to seal 2-0 and 3-1 victories in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League, respectively.
- Boateng also has a perfect three-from-three record against Liverpool, ending up on the winning side of fixtures for both Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur during his time in England.
- These two sides have never previously faced each other in a competitive fixture, but they have done in pre-season. In fact, the last time they played, in 2017, also fell on 29 July - exactly four years ago to the day.
- It took Klopp six attempts to chalk up his first victory as a coach over Hertha and his personal league record against the Berliners reads: P16, W6, D5, L5.
- As a player, Klopp made 347 senior appearances in his homeland and scored 56 times before stepping into management. He went on to lift back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12 with Borussia Dortmund, as well as the DFB Cup in 2011/12 and German Supercup in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
Hertha: Schwolow - Pekarik (Zeefuik 68'), Stark (c) (Klünter 68'), M. Dardai (Gechter 68'), Plattenhardt (Mittelstädt 68') - Ascacibar (Darida 25'), Serdar (Dirkner 46') - Lukebakio (Morgenstern 68'), Boateng (Jovetic 60'), Dilrosun (Jastrzembski 68') - Selke (Werthmüller 68')
Unused subs: Körber
Out: Jarstein (match fitness), Piatek (ankle)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Liverpool: Kelleher (Adrian 46') - Alexander-Arnold (N. WIlliams 61'), Konate (R. Williams 46', Gomez 69'), Matip (Phillips 46', Van Dijk 69'), Tsimikas (Robertson 46') - Keita (Morton 61'), Milner (c) (Clarkson 61'), Elliot (Jones 46') - Salah (Gordon 61'), Minamino (Oxlade-Chamberlain 46'), Mane (Jota 61')
Unused subs: H. Davies, Beck, Cain, Bradley, Koumetio
Coach: Jürgen Klopp
Watch: Kevin-Prince Boateng's best Bundesliga skills and goals
As it happened!
It's all over in Innsbruck! Hertha had six shots on goal all game, four of which were on target - and all four went in! They say pre-season results don't matter, and while that is undoubtedly true - with form and fitness the main focus - Hertha can take a lot of positives from this one. Not least the two debut goals from Jovetic that secured them the win.
88' OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN PULLS ONE BACK
Schwolow comes off his line to punch away van Dijk's header, but he can only clear it as far as Oxlade-Chamberlain. The midfielder waits for the ball to drop and smashes a volley through a crowd of legs and low into the corner.
84' CLINICAL FROM HERTHA
Liverpool have been on top for most of the game, but Hertha's finishing has been brilliant today. This will be a morale-boosting win if they can see the result over the line.
80' JOVETIC DOUBLE!
The Montenegro attacker bears down on goal, jinks inside Van Dijk, skips past another defender and rifles a shot into the net from 10 yards. A very composed finish from Jovetic there.
77' JOVETIC DRAWS A CHEER
A lovely back-heeled flick from Jovetic, as he's controlling the ball under pressure, draws a murmur of approval from the crowd. Early days yet of course, but he's already looking right at home in a Hertha shirt.
74' MORTON TRIES HIS LUCK...
... but his shot from range is straight at Schwolow.
72' GORDON ALMOST IN
The Liverpool substitute is finding little pockets of space between defenders and for a moment he looks to be clean through on goal, but his touch lets him down and the chance disappears - much to his frustration.
68' HERTHA SUBS - VAN DIJK COMEBACK!
Stark, Dardai, Plattenhardt, Pekarik, Selke, Dilrosun and Darida go off for Hertha, with Mittelstädt, Gechter, Klünter, Zeefuik, Werthmüller, Morgenstern and Jastrzembskicoming on. Meanwhile, there's a huge roar from the crowd as Van Dijk makes his comeback from injury for Liverpool, replacing Phillips, with Joe Gomez also coming on for Rhys Williams.
67' DEBUT GOAL FOR JOVETIC!
Hertha take the lead again! It's very much against the run of play, but Lukebakio does well down the Hertha right, skipping inside on to his left foot and floating a cross into the middle. Jovetic has peeled away between two defenders and plants an unmarked header into the net from six yards out!
65' GORDON HAS ANOTHER GO!
Hertha are struggling to get out of their own half here and Liverpool are seemingly creating something every time they get forward. It's another Robertson cross from the left, this time a high one, but Gordon's header is straight at Schwolow.
63' GORDON FIRES OVER!
It's a first sight of goal for the substitute, who's picked out about 12 yards from goal by Robertson following a driving run down the left. The Liverpool youngster can only blaze his shot way over the bar though.
61' FIVE LIVERPOOL SUBSTITUTIONS
Klopp makes a handful of changes of his own bringing on Clarkson, Morton, Gordon, Neco Williams and Jota for Milner, Keita, Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Mane.
60' HERE COMES JOVETIC!
Hertha's latest signing takes to the pitch, replacing Boateng for his first appearance for his new club.
55' SCHWOLOW AGAIN!
Another free-kick on the right for Liverpool and again Alexander-Arnold takes it. This time he does zip it into the box and Mane is first to it. He connects with a powerful header, but Schwolow makes a brilliant reflex save to keep it out!
54' SCHWOLOW ALERT
More mischief from Salah, who has been Liverpool's best player so far. His back-heel releases Alexander-Arnold into space on the right-hand side of the penalty area. The England international drills a loss cross towards the near post, but Schwolow's positioning is good and he makes the block.
52' WASTEFUL FROM LIVERPOOL
Alexander-Arnold lines up a free-kick, right of centre and about 30 yards from goal. He looks like he's going to deliver it into the box, but instead plays it square to Keita, who dribbles a couple of yards before losing possession.
48' SANE AND SALAH GO CLOSE!
Sane latches on to a long ball over the top, but his attempted flick past Schwolow is saved by the goalkeeper. The rebound falls to Salah, but a defender just nips in to clear as he's about to finish.
46' SECOND HALF!
Hertha get the ball rolling again. There have been a few substitutions with Robertson (on for Tsimikas), Rhys Williams (Konate), Jones (Elliot), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Minamino), Phillips (Matip) and Adrian (Kelleher) now on for Liverpool, while Dirkner is on for Hertha, having replaced Serdar.
It's all square at the break. Hertha took a surprise lead through Ascacibar, before Serdar thundered in their second. That seemed to spur Liverpool on, and Klopp's side soon hit back and restored parity through Mane and Minamino.
45' TWO ADDED MINUTES
We're into stoppage time now. Will therre be a late twist before the interval?
42' LIVERPOOL EQUALISE!
Mane plays a low ball deep in behind the Hertha defence. Salah is first to it and immediately back-heels it into the middle of the box, where the onrushing Minamino strokes home to level the score.
37' LIVERPOOL PULL ONE BACK!
Tsimikas has acres of space down the left and can charge unchallenged into the Hertha box. He pulls the ball into the middle for Mane, whose first shot is blocked, but the rebound falls right back at his feet and he doesn't miss at the second attempt, stroking low into the net from 10 yards.
31' SERDAR STUNNER!
This is some finish from the Hertha midfielder. Tsimikas stands off Lukebakio on the Hertha right, giving him time and space to pick out Serdar's run into the box. His first touch is good but he looks to be in a difficult area, with the angle on goal extremely tight. Serdar doesn't think twice though, and lashes a rasping, looping shot high into the net past Kelleher!
30' ALMOST FROM SALAH
Milner floats in a cross from the left, looking for Salah's diagonal run. The Egyptian almost gets his head on it, but just can't quite jump high enough, and the ball bounces through to Schwolow to collect.
28' TIDY FROM PLATTENHARDT
Salah is looking lively on the right and tries to get in behind the defence as a low through-ball is played through for him. Plattenhardt has read the danger though and does well to shield the ball from the Liverpool forward before playing it back to Schwolow.
25' ASCACIBAR SUBBED OFF
Hertha are taking no risks here and bring on Darida in midfield for Ascacibar, who's up and walking again, albeit with a slight limp.
21' GOOOAAAAAL! HERTHA LEAD!
Plattenhardt with a delightful, curling delivery from the free-kick. It beats everyone in the Liverpool box except Ascacibar, who slides in at the back post to prod in from close range! The Argentinian midfielder seems to injure himself in the process though, and is receiving treatment.
19' DANGEROUS AREA
A promising Hertha attack as Boateng wins the ball in midfield. It's played wide on the right to Lukebakio, who immediately charges at Tsmikas. He skips past the defender but is brought down clumsily, giving Hertha a free-kick just outside the right-hand corner of the area.
17' SCHWOLOW AGAIN!
Salah swings in a deep cross from the right touchline to the back post, where Mane is arriving. The striker heads it down into the ground and back across goal - it's a really awkward one for Schwolow to deal with, but he reacts superbly to tip it over the bar!
15' SCHWOLOW DENIES SALAH!
Liverpool are starting to exert more pressure now and produce their best opening of the game. Salah darts into the Hertha box on the right, cuts inside past Plattenhardt and onto his left foot before smashing a vicious shot at goal. Schwolow does well to save it, and gets up to put off Minamino on the rebound.
11' OVER FROM ELLIOT
Liverpool register their first shot at goal, although Schwolow was never going to be called into action. A corner is half-cleared to the edge of the area and Elliot lashes a first-time drive well over the target.
9' NO HIGH PRESS
Unlike typical Klopp teams, and indeed in the Bundesliga, neither side are pressing high or particularly fiercely at the moment. Liverpool are dropping back to about 10 yards inside the Hertha before before attacking their opponents.
6' FIRST SHOT FROM BOATENG
Hertha have the first effort on goal of the match as Serdar plays the ball square to Boateng, just outside the Liverpool area. He shoots first time, but his low effort curls wide of the post.
5' HERTHA BEDDING IN
Hertha have now managed to get their foot on the ball a little and gained some confidence after stringing a series of passes together.
2' LIVERPOOL SETTLING
The red shirts of Liverpool have had more of the ball in these early stages and give a glimpse of their attacking threat as Alexander-Arnold drills a low cross into Salah on the edge of the box. The Egyptian tries to play it first time into the path of Minamino, but it's blocked by a Hertha defender
1' HERE WE GO!
Liverpool get the ball rolling!
OUT ON THE PITCH
The players are out on the pitch. We're just moments away from kick-off now!
Hertha's most recent summer signing Stevan Jovetic begins on the bench, although he is surely likely to be given a few minutes at least. Davie Selke is given the nod up top, having hit eight goals in five pre-season outings. Suat Serdar and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who also both moved to the Old Lady this summer, do begin in midfield though.
For Liverpool, the big news is that Virgil van Dijk is set to make his comeback from a long-term injury, with Jürgen Klopp planning on giving him a run-out in the second half. There's no Roberto Firmino for the Reds, but with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane they have plenty of firepower in attack.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
Thank you for joining us for live coverage of a tasty looking friendly in Innsbruck. We've got all the action coming right up!