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TNS TEAR-UP LIVERPOOL'S SCRIPT
Steven Gerrard celebrates his hat-trick at Anfield [Northpixs]
TNS have forced Liverpool to tear up their pre-season script, according to hat-trick skipper Steven Gerrard.
He admitted that the Welsh Premier champions had surprised the reigning European champions by restricting the first leg to a 3-0 scoreline.
The Reds flew out to Switzerland yesterday for a 10-day training camp to prepare for the upcoming battles with Premiership giants such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
According to Gerrard, the plan was a six or seven-goal hiding in the first leg so that Liverpool would be able to field a complete shadow XI for the return.
But manager Rafa Benitez will be forced to fly several of his first choice players back to Liverpool for Tuesday's second leg at Wrexham.
And Gerrard admits he was surprised by the resilience and fitness shown by Ken McKenna's men in front of a sell-out Anfield crowd.
"TNS did really well against us, making us work hard throughout the 90 minutes, closing us down quickly in midfield and making it difficult to spark penetrating moves.
"The idea was to for us to get plenty of goals at our place. We wanted five or six, but you have to give credit to TNS for their resilience and their fitness. They never wavered," said the Reds' skipper.
"We put a strong side out for the first-leg tie because it was a Champions League qualifier that we clearly couldn't take any chances with.
"It was just as well, too because at no point did TNS look like they were flagging, even in the heat we were playing.
"Once I scored my first two goals in the first 20 minutes, we were confident of running up the decent score we were looking for. But we had to wait until the last minute to get the third, which was a little frustrating for us.
"Maybe TNS caught us a little cold in terms of when this match was played. But you have to say they were a real credit to themselves and their league.
"TNS tried hard to bridge the massive gap that exists between the Welsh Premier and the Premiership and they succeeded, to a certain extent.
"Getting that last-minute goal was certainly a timely moment for me and the team. At 2-0, there would have been a slight, nagging doubt," he added.
15 July 2021