Fabio Borini Opens His Anfield Scoring Account with Volley Against FC Gomel
Luis Suarez could be credited with doing the brunt of the work, as had been the case for much of the first half of Liverpool's absorbing 3-0 Europa League qualifying round win over Belorussian side FC Gomel at Anfield.
But it was Fabio Borini's finish that constituted one of the most important plot lines of the affair.
The victory gave Brendan Rodgers's side a 4-0 aggregate victory after last week's 1-0 success, and brought them one step closer to the pedestal of Europa group stages.
There remains a tricky two-leg playoff to navigate, but given Liverpool's showing on the night, fans have every right to feel confident they can handle it.
They have one of their new manager's initial signings (although the two know each other quite well from a previous stint together) to thank for effectively putting the aggregate out of reach, just a quarter of an hour into the match.
Borini was Rodgers's first major addition to the ranks, signing from AS Roma in mid-July and quickly heading to America with the rest of his new squad for a preseason tour.
Just as he'd done upon joining Rodgers's former club Swansea City on loan during the second half of the 2010-11 season when he notched a brace in his first appearance against Nottingham Forest (although he had already started in the away leg against Gomel the week before), Borini finished off a sublime bit of individual skill from Suarez by hammering home the Urugayan's pass on the volley.
The shot was hit low and hard, and perhaps keeper Vladimir Bushma should have done better getting down to his right to keep it out. But it was a testament to Borini's spontaneity, and the power of his volley that Bushma could do no more than deviate it into the back of his net.
It was terrific work from the Italian, who scored nine goals in 24 league encounters for Roma a season ago, on his Anfield debut.
A Good Early Understanding with Suarez
To watch Luis Suarez is to witness a player who, when he is flowing in form, is among the most dynamic strikers in the world.
After enduring such a trying Olympic campaign with Uruguay—the heavy favorites failed to emerge from the group stages of the competition—Suarez showed no lingering effects of that disappointment, engaging in his inimitable live-wire act almost as soon as the ball was first kicked on the evening.
Borini took up the other forward position in Rodgers's nebulous 4-4-2, which saw a central midfield that continued to shift in shape and formation thanks to the terrific movement of Steven Gerrard and forward ambitions of Jonjo Shelvey—and while Suarez danced about the forward portions of the pitch, Borini was content to lay in wait for opportunities to come his way.
His goal will have assuaged many a nervous tremor throughout the fabled stadium. Last season saw any number of would-be forwards—the embattled Andy Carroll included—unable to forge a consistent partnership up front.
Borini has had the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in his sights for over two years now, hoping to earn a spot on the Italian plane. He was in the 23-man Italian side that made it to the Euro 2012 final, although he did not appear in a game.
Given his performance on a raucous Thursday night at Anfield—the stadium comes alive like few others in the game when European football is in the air—he can feel confident that he's taken a significant step in the direction of that fateful platform.
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