In came the real stars, and out went the monotony.
In Sunday’s International Champions Cup soccer match at Bank of America Stadium, there wasn’t much to write home about in the first half between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund. A uncontested header midway through the half gave the Reds a 1-0 lead at the break, but other than that lone moment of excitement? The backups who started the game mostly played like backups.
And then came in Christian Pulisic, the U.S. star and Dortmund spark plug. And the summer’s big-name acquisition. And then, then there finally was something worth watching.
Pulisic forced a penalty with his deft dribbling for the second match in a row, and this time converted it to tie the game. And then, in the next-to-last minute, another moment of brilliance for Pulisic. He received a pass near the top of the box, and falling down, was still able to slot it into the bottom-right corner of the goal for the game-winner. (A goal in the 90th minute, making the final score 3-1, only re-affirmed the inevitable.)
And let the chants — U-S-A! — ring out.
First half: Liverpool keeper Loris Karius got caught out of net less than five minutes into the game, but Dortmund’s shot from midfield drifted right of the goal. It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk scored the game’s opening goal on an uncontested header. A Dortmund breakaway five minutes before the half presented an equalizing chance, but Karius was able to fall on a weaker shot and send Liverpool to the break with a 1-0 lead.
Second half: Liverpool had a chance to double its lead about 18 minutes into the second half, but the shot on the breakaway attack bounced off Dortmund’s keeper and then the crossbar. A minute later, U.S. star Christian Pulisic earned a penalty when he was fouled in the box and converted it to level the score. In the 89th minute, Pulisic tied the score with a goal to the bottom right corner, giving the Germans the victory in Charlotte.
Three who mattered
Virgil van Dijk: One of the world’s most expensive defenders, van Dijk proved his worth Sunday on the offensive end, scoring the game’s opening goal on an uncontested header.
Christian Pulisic: He entered in the second half to much fanfare, quickly earned a penalty, and then converted it to tie the game. And then the game-winner with time nearly up? Not bad for a 19-year-old.
Marwin Hitz: He was far from perfect, even almost scoring an own goal when the ball took an awkward touch off his foot, but the Dortmund goalkeeper deserves ample credit for keeping his side in the game.
▪ Official attendance was 55,447. While not as crowded as Bank of America Stadium is for a typical Carolina Panthers home game, almost the entire lower bowl was filled with a mix of red and yellow jerseys. Slight advantage to the Liverpool fans.
▪ Mo Salah, Liverpool’s star attacker and a contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or (FIFA Player of the Year award), did not play Sunday as he continues to rehab his injured shoulder.
▪ Pulisic, the United States national team star, normally starts for Borussia Dortmund, but during these summer games, teams like to swap most of their lineups at halftime to keep players fresh.