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MELBOURNE (AFP) – Steven Gerrard sent the 95,000 crowd home happy with a trademark goal in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Australia's Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
The rapturously-received Liverpool skipper scored in the first half and Spaniard striker Iago Aspas got the second in injury time off some Luis Suarez trickery, to seal a hard-fought win over the two-times A-League champions.
Despite an emotional rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone" sung by the capacity red-clad crowd before the kickoff, Liverpool could not do as they pleased against the home side -- even though they were missing all their Socceroo stars playing at the East Asian Cup in South Korea.
"I want to put on record a huge thank you to people of Melbourne and Australia. The 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the beginning was a real tear-jerker," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
Gerrard added: "All we can say as players and staff is thanks for the support and we've been overwhelmed since we touched down a few days ago. It's great to get a win for all the supporters tonight."
Gerrard's goal gave Liverpool the half-time lead, but it took until deep into injury time before they added a second goal after some clever lead-up work from want-away Uruguayan striker Suarez.
New signing Aspas was there to score from close range off Suarez's pass with the last kick of the game.
Gerrard, cheered every time he took a corner by the packed MCG, was feted throughout his time on the field by the pro-Liverpool capacity crowd.
Gerrard had a long-range shot beaten away by goalkeeper Nathan Coe midway through the opening half, but Victory were comfortable on the ball, passing it around the pitch for long periods and not overawed.
The Victory produced a much stiffer, more composed performance than the A-League All-Stars thrown together and battered by Manchester United 5-1 in Sydney a few days earlier.
Liverpool got the breakthrough in the 32nd minute when Gerrard interchanged passes with Welsh midfielder Joe Allen before storming into the goal area and firing past Coe.
"Every time you put the Liverpool shirt on you've got to give it your best and you want to win every game you play," Gerrard said.
"But it doesn't matter who scores the goals, it's all about the team, and the team is in good preparation for hopefully a successful season. It's another step forward."
While Gerrard was hero-worshipped by the Australian Liverpool fans, a huge roar greeted Suarez sitting among the substitutes when his face was shown on the big screen.
Gerrard made way on the hour, and then Suarez made his way on to the ground among wholesale substitutions in the 72nd minute.
Suarez is a ??40 million ($61 million) transfer target of Arsenal and has made it clear he is keen to move to a team playing Champions League football.
Suarez was playing for the first time for Liverpool since biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. He was suspended for 10 games over the incident and will miss the start of the Premier League season as a result.
Suarez was subdued and did not celebrate his part in Aspas's goal, which will only add to speculation he will leave Liverpool.
It was Liverpool's second win of their Asian pre-season tour after they defeated Indonesia XI 2-0 in Jakarta last weekend. They now head to Bangkok where they will play Thailand on Sunday.
New signing Kolo Toure and Brazilian Philippe Coutinho did not play against Melbourne Victory because of injury.