SYDNEY • For Liverpool, it was meant to be a celebration of the football season just finished.
For Australia's Sydney FC, a club also with good cause for celebration after their title-winning campaign, it was a chance to prove themselves against a grand old English club - albeit one that was tired, jet-lagged and under-strength.
At the end of a predictably pedestrian close-season match in the harbour city yesterday, it was the visitors who most fulfilled their pre-match aspirations with a comfortable 3-0 win.
The result delighted the heavily pro-Liverpool crowd, after goals by Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Roberto Firmino set up the mother of all smash and grabs.
Liverpool will turn round their post-season trip to Australia in devastatingly quick, and possibly unprecedented, fashion - in not much longer than it takes to say "veni, vidi, vici", they came yesterday morning, saw the Opera House, signed some autographs in the afternoon, and conquered Sydney in the evening.
Having secured their place in next season's Champions League just on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp's side will return to Liverpool this evening, having made their mark on Australia once again in just 36 hours - and banked a presumably sizeable cheque for their efforts.
"That was the most intense away game I've ever had," said the coach. "I've no idea how the players did it. Obviously they've enjoyed it."
When asked what the players' response was on being told they were expected to travel to the other side of the world at the end of a long, hard campaign, the German said: "Because I'm the boss, they were not too critical but I could see in their eyes they would have done different things."
England striker Sturridge, fighting back from a hip injury, was outstanding - scoring the opening goal and setting up another for Firmino.
The Reds, playing in front of a red-bedecked near-capacity crowd of 73,000 at Sydney's Olympic stadium, scored all their goals in an irresistible first half.
Of the players who started their final Premier League game against Middlesbrough on Sunday, only three were in the starting XI - Dejan Lovren, Firmino and Sturridge.
Club legends Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Steve McManaman and Daniel Agger also pulled on the red shirt once more, appearing for 45 minutes each.
"It was interesting and very enjoyable considering we only got off the plane today," McManaman, 45, said. "I thought I was fit but I can't keep up with the youngsters any more".
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE