Steven Gerrard recently said that between Liverpool letting the Premier League title slip away at the end of last season and England's embarrassment at the World Cup, he has endured the worst three months of his life. And now, with Liverpool losing 3-1 to rivals Manchester United in the final of the International Champions Cup — the oldest U.S. based club competition founded in 2013 — Gerrard's devastation has reached a new low.
Much has been made about Liverpool's 24-year Premier League title drought, but they have never won the International Champions Cup in the entirety of the club's history. After failing to qualify/not bothering to enter in the inaugural edition of the tournament last year, Liverpool finished atop Group B with two wins and a draw to reach the final against Man United in Miami.
In front of a crowd that would have overflowed from a much smaller stadium, Liverpool got out to an early lead when Gerrard converted a penalty in the 14th minute. But in the second half, Man United mounted a comeback that will surely go down as one of the greatest in summer exhibition cup final history when Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata scored within two minutes of each other and 21-year-old Jesse Lingard added a third goal in the 88th minute.
Rooney, who captained Man United, was named both Man of the Match and Player of the Tournament, which will surely drive up his transfer value at least £3-4. And new boss Louis van Gaal has now won the first trophy available to him since joining Man United after the World Cup, matching the high standard set by predecessor David Moyes, who won the Community Shield last season.
The heartbreak of this loss was clearly evident on the faces of the Liverpool players as they trudged off the pitch laughing and joking with the opposition. When they sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona, critics asked whether they would have enough fire power left to win the International Champions Cup and the answer is now clear.
The Reds must now try to focus on a long Premier League campaign and a return to the UEFA Champions League — a backwater competition that copied off of the Champions Cup's name two decades before it existed — before they can take another crack at finally ending their ICC sorrow. Man United, meanwhile, will remember this night for minutes to come.
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