Liverpool cruised to a 4-0 win over Barcelona on Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London, finishing their 2016 International Champions Cup campaign on a positive note.
Sadio Mane opened the score after just 15 minutes, as the Reds dominated the opening stages. Barcelona took control of the ball as the half wore on, but Liverpool maintained their lead heading into half-time.
A Javier Mascherano own goal, along with Divock Origi's quick strike, made the score 3-0 just minutes into the second half, and Liverpool controlled proceedings from that point on. Marko Grujic put the final score on the board in injury time.
The result means Paris Saint-Germain have won their second straight ICC title, as Barcelona needed to beat Liverpool and make up a difference in goal differential to pass Les Parisiens in the standings.
As the Reds' official Twitter account shared, summer signings Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum both featured for Liverpool:
Liverpool started well. Wijnaldum sliced the first chance of the match just wide after some lovely work from Mane. The two combined well shortly after, but Mane just lacked the pace to move past Aleix Vidal.
The Reds found plenty of space out wide early, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to intervene to deal with a cross from Nathaniel Clyne, with Roberto Firmino ready to pounce.
Ladbrokes focused on one of the biggest storylines of the match:
Play had to be stopped twice thanks to issues with the ball, allowing the Blaugrana to catch their breath after Liverpool's fast start. A beautiful passing move nearly released Suarez, but Sergio Busquets just missed with his touch.
Simon Mignolet almost gifted Munir El Haddadi a chance with a poor pass for Ragnar Klavan, before Mane opened the score. Firmino worked the ball over to Adam Lallana, who played a nice pass into Mane for the first goal.
Per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, it was exactly the kind of football manager Jurgen Klopp preaches:
The Reds kept attacking, with Mane again soaking up the attention with a lovely run. Lallana came close to capitalising, but Mascherano produced a fine tackle to block his effort. On the other side of the pitch, Clyne gifted the ball to Munir, but his one-two with Lionel Messi fell short.
Messi and Suarez combined to give Barcelona their first real chance of the match after 23 minutes, with the Argentinian striking the post from close range. Tom Williams of Agence France-Presse couldn't help himself:
The Catalans improved as the half wore on, and Mignolet made a strong claim to cut out a high cross off a free-kick. Arda Turan forced Mignolet into a fine save with a deflected shot, but James Milner was alert enough to clear before Suarez could pounce on the rebound.
Dejan Lovren made a fantastic tackle to block a pass from Messi to Suarez that would have given the latter a great chance, drawing praise from fans and pundits. LFC Fans Corner chipped in:
Milner left the pitch and went straight down the tunnel just before half-time, a bad sign for the Reds, and replacement Alberto Moreno nearly picked out Mane for the final chance of the half.
Origi was introduced to start the second half, replacing Philippe Coutinho, while Kevin Stewart and Jordan Henderson also made their way onto the pitch. For Barcelona, Sergi Roberto and Claudio Bravo started the second half.
The latter didn't enjoy his first couple of minutes, as the Catalans conceded two goals in quick succession. First, Mascherano pushed the ball past his own goalkeeper, drawing this reaction from La Liga blogger Sergi Dominguez:
Just one minute later, Origi used his pace to burst through the heart of defence before calmly sliding the ball underneath the replacement stopper, effectively ending Barcelona's chances of winning the 2016 ICC.
The Catalans were reeling at this point. Firmino came within inches of adding a fourth goal, curling a shot just wide of the post. Barcelona desperately tried to lower the tempo, but Klopp's troops kept working the ball around at pace.
Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta were introduced, and the duo's presence finally calmed proceedings. But while the Catalans took control of the ball, chances remained few. Instead, Liverpool continued to threaten, and Mane nearly doubled his tally with a fine strike near the bottom corner.
Roberto found some success out wide, and Lovren once again had to make a fine block to keep Messi from scoring after 74 minutes.
A multitude of substitutions took the tempo out of the match, but Liverpool didn't mind one bit, gladly sitting back to defend their lead. Some late pressure led to nothing. Mignolet preserved his clean sheet, and Grujic finished the job with a fantastic header just before the final whistle.
The Reds will start their Premier League campaign against Arsenal on Sunday, August 14, while Barcelona will face Sampdoria in the Joan Gamper Trophy match before their Spanish Super Cup contest against Sevilla.
As Bleacher Report UK's Karl Matchett reported, Klopp provided some insights into his ambitions for the season:
He was also involved in an incident with a reporter from the Sun, telling him he no longer wants to talk to his newspaper, per the The Independent:
I don't talk with The Sun anymore. I don't speak with The Sun anymore. You can listen.
It's not because I'm with Liverpool now. It's because of a few things that will happen in the next few days or few weeks, I don't know.
It's not personal. You're still working for The Sun, right? That's it. You can listen and you can write what you want.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique didn't read too much into the final score:
Barcelona's inability to deal with Liverpool's high press is a concern, but the Catalans were still missing several key players, and they will be much improved by the time they face Sevilla.
Liverpool appear ready to start their Premier League campaign, and they'll have to be, as Arsenal seem to be in fine form as well.