LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers has a new star emerging at Anfield.
The Carnlough man wasn’t at Ravenhill for last night’s glamour friendly with Cruasders, but a glowing report on Jesus Fernadez Saez will arrive on his desk from Under-21 boss Rodolfo Borrell.
The little Spaniard, known as Suso, turned in a sensational display in front of a sell out, shirt sleeved, 12,000 crowd. The 19 year old grabbed a stunning opening goal; set up the second before being replaced after 60 minutes to a rapturous ovation.
Even though there were none of the Merseyside superstars on show, the Anfield kids were still a big hit with the fans shoehorned into the Belfast venue.
It was the Crues’ Ciaran Gargan who brought the first response from the packed grandstands, the home of Ulster Rugby. The former Donegal Celtic midfielder’s fierce free kick somehow snaked its way through a posse of legs with Pool skipper Andre Wisdom getting the final tough.
Crues skipper Colin Coates then gave the visitors another scare when he met another Gargan corner kick, but his header flashed inches wide.
But the massive Liverpool following came to life on 14 minutes when Adam Morgan’s audacious cheeky back flick from a John Flanagan, only to see his effort trickle wide.
Veteran striker Davy Rainey should really have shot the Crues into the lead on 27 minutes. Sent hurtling through the middle by a slide-rule David McMaster pass, the 36 year old could only shoot against the body of outstretched goalkeeper Tyrell Belford.
However, the stadium erupted four minutes later with a Suso special. The little Spaniard was hauled by a reckless Declan Caddell challenge, but picked himself up before crashing an unstoppable drive past Drummond.
Crusaders’s response was immediate. Gibson found McMaster romping through the middle, but Belford got down quickly to save.
Then, Rainey tried his luck from distance, which Belford spilled, but Wisdom tidied up to prevent a Jordan Owens tapping in.
Baxter’s braves were made to pay for their wasteful attitude in front of goal. In a lightning break two minutes from the break, Suso and Nathan Eccleston combined to created the chance for Adam Morgan and he obliged by drilling the ball past Drummond.
The 19 year old Susa required only 40 seconds of the second half to have the crowd on their feet again, but his time his drive crashed off the base of the post.
It proved to be his final piece of action – he was replaced on 60 minutes by Jordan Ibe.
But Crusaders rattled their Mersey giants by sneaking just before Suso’s exit. Caddell’s speculative 20 yard drive took a wicked deflection off Jakub Sokolik, and the ball flashed past a stranded Belford.
Substitute Gareth McKeown came within inches of an equaliser, but his rasping volley arrowed inches over the crossbar.
Liverpool put the icing on a fabulous night’s entertainment with another stunning goal 10 minutes from time. Giant midfielder Conor Coady burst down the left and crossed for Eccleston to power home a close range header.
Crusaders: Drummond (O’Neill 46), Leeman, Coates (Magowan 72), Rainey (Adamson 46), Gargan (Mitchell 77), Caddell, McMaster, Watson (Morrow 46), McClean (McBride 77), Owens (Snoddy 58), Gibson (McKeown 46).
Scorers: Caddell 54
Liverpool: Belford, Flanagan, Smith, Sokolik (Nacho 85), Wisdom, Coady, Suso (Ibe 60), Roddan, Morgan (Ngoo 60), Adorjan, Eccleston (Teixeira 87)
Subs: Stephens, Pelsosi.
Scorers: Suso 27, Morgan 43, Eccleston 80.
Referee: D Malcolm.