HONG KONG: New signing Dominic Solanke came off the bench to score as Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in a preseason game in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old suggested he could prove a summer bargain at just $4 million as he linked up well with fellow striker Divock Origi, who also got on the scoresheet in the Premier League Asia Trophy win.
“It’s been a smart move for him and for us,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of Solanke’s transfer from Chelsea.
“He saw the opportunity and we could see it also. You could see immediately he is a smart player. He’s a skilled boy and we are happy about this. We will help him all we can.”
Origi set up the first goal for Liverpool on the hour mark with a clever back-heel that found Solanke unmarked and the teenager made no mistake, finishing coolly in the stifling Hong Kong heat.
Origi then rifled home Liverpool’s second in the 79th minute, to the delight of a crowd of 40,000.
Klopp’s new-look front line proved a welcome distraction for the German coach following reports that Leipzig had rejected a huge bid of $86 million for star midfielder Naby Keita.
Klopp bristled when asked about the Keita situation as rumours circled that the Guinea international’s agent had been spotted in Hong Kong.
“Are we in Macau?” asked Klopp in reference to the world’s largest gambling hub, situated just across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.
“What do you know? Sixty-six million (pounds) turned down today? I don’t think about this.
“Today both teams played good football,” added Klopp, turning his attention back to events on the pitch.
“In the second half we made some changes and we scored — nice. We changed the formation and it was nice to watch.”
Liverpool will face Leicester City in the Asia Trophy final on Saturday after the Foxes won the earlier match 7-6 on penalties over West Bromwich Albion following a 1-1 stalemate in normal time.
New signing Jay Rodriguez gave West Brom the lead with a stunning finish after nine minutes, only for Riyad Mahrez to squeeze the ball past Ben Foster to level things up midway through the first half.
“Jay’s strike was fantastic,” said West Brom boss Tony Pulis.
“The lad was always a very good player — he’s just had a couple of bad injuries that set him back and he’s not really got himself in position to get a run of games.”