Sydney FC striker Matt Simon admitted it was an eye-opening experience seeing Liverpool’s quality up close after the EPL side dismantled the Sky Blues 3-0 at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.
Despite arriving into Sydney from England some 11 hours before the game, the blistering Reds turned it on for the big crowd and were three goals up at the break.
The opening 45 minutes largely thanks to Steven Gerrard’s majestic midfield performance – the Reds legend out of retirement but clearly not out of shape at 36 years of age.
Though there were no more goals in the second half, there was only team in the contest played in front of almost 73,000 fans.
“It was a great experience to come out against a world class side,” Simon, a second half substitute, told ABC TV.
The Reds’ technique, ball movement and rotations had a rusty Sydney on the back foot from the first whistle.
“You just can’t get close to them [Liverpool],” Simon added.
“They’re just unbelievable, watching them in the first half.
“So rapid and they even had a few more gears to go.
“To be on the same pitch as those guys [Liverpool] is a pleasure].”
Sydney FC certainly missed the class of imports Milos Ninkovic and Jordi Buijs, and were also without Filip Holosko and Bernie Ibini (both have left the club since Grand Final day).
Former Everton player David Carney hit the bar on the stroke of half-time to offer some hope for Sydney.
Simon too with a late effort palmed away by Reds keeper Simon Mignolet.
Those two moments were the best it got for the Sky Blues who ended the game with about half of their outfield players from their youth ranks.
“It was good for the fans, I suppose, a good exhibition game,” Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold told reporters after the game.
“It’s good for our boys, the Australian kids especially, to come up against that quality.
“A lot of young boys haven’t played at international level and to play against that type of quality is a bit of a reality check.
“You think you’re doing well, but then there’s still a long way to go until you get to the level of an English Premier League player.
“It’s been tough the last two weeks to keep the boys going after the grand final, but give them the credit for doing their best.
“It’s time for a holiday now.”