Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez were cheered with virtually their every touch by 11,000 fans as the Liverpool defenders made surprise returns after long injury lay-offs in a 4-3 friendly defeat against Hertha Berlin.
Dutch superstar Van Dijk was involved in goals at both end as they came on for the final 20 minutes when Jurgen Klopp’s men trailed 3-2 in Austria.
And England star Gomez was even booked for a foul on a night when Liverpool’s other backline players – as a unit at least – looked creaky.
VVD and Gomez only resumed training this month after being out since early last season with knee problems.
Their absences peaked Liverpool’s incredible run of defensive injuries – a major reason for their collapse from runaway Premier League champions in 2019-20 to third place last term.
Neither was expected to face Hertha, who finished 14th in the Bundesliga.
But instead Anfield boss Klopp raised eyebrows and excited supporters by giving them a decent cameo role.
Klopp started with £34million ex-RB Leipzig newcomer Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip in central defence.
The Reds looked vulnerable at the back, while wasting plenty of scoring chances themselves.
Santi Ascacibar’s bundled effort and Suat Serdar’s lovely angled finish put Hertha 2-0 up early on.
Sadio Mane pulled one back at the second attempt and Mo Salah’s delightful Salah teed up Japanese midfielder Takumi Minamino for Liverpool’s leveller.
But former Manchester City striker Stefan Jovetic struck twice after the break for Hertha.
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