LIVERPOOL FC escaped with their 41-year unbeaten record against Swiss teams intact but a sloppy defensive performance almost cost them in their Europa League Group A encounter against Young Boys.
That Brendan Rodgers’ second-string side – which included a trio of debutants, two of whom were teenagers – scored five times was something of a surprise considering the struggles of the first-team this season.
They were given an early helping hand thanks to a comical own goal from Juhani Ojala and 19-year-old Andre Wisdom scored on his debut after Raphael Nuzzolo had equalised following a Jose Enrique error.
But Ojala then headed in at the right end and Gonzalo Zarate made it 3-2 before the match turned around again when Sebastian Coates headed in and then Jonjo Shelvey scored twice.
It was the first time Liverpool had scored more than once in eight European away matches and their first in any group stage game away from home since beating PSV in December 2008.
Rodgers wanted to give his younger players a chance to prove they were good enough and while they may not have convinced him 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 the manager was looking for.
Despite concerns about the inexperience of the squad, with eight senior players having been left at home, 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.
Stewart Downing’s right-wing cross did not look to be threatening but Dusan Veskovac headed the ball back across goal and his central defensive partner Ojala headed in.