Stiliyan Petrov and James Milner's guest teams played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in A Match for Cancer on Saturday afternoon.
The special game was organised to raise funds to tackle cancer through three equal-beneficiary charities – the James Milner Foundation, Celtic FC Foundation and Stiliyan Petrov Foundation.
The sides were led by Liverpool managers past and present at Celtic Park, with Brendan Rodgers in charge of the Petrov XI and Jürgen Klopp in the dugout for the Milner XI.
And the match, which featured a host of familiar faces from Celtic, Liverpool and beyond, was played at a pace that both bosses would have been proud of.
Football freestyler Jeremy Lynch opened the scoring on 11 minutes from the penalty spot.
The referee judged there was a handball in the box from Liverpool legend Luis Garcia’s effort and the No.9 stepped up from 12 yards and expertly found the top right corner.
Henrik Larsson went close to an immediate response for the Petrov XI, collecting a threaded diagonal pass from Robbie Keane and sending a shot underneath the oncoming Joe Hart but Joleon Lescott recovered to clear it off the line.
Shay Given then produced an outstanding save to deny Milner, somehow tipping the Reds vice-captain’s header across goal away after he had been picked out by Garcia.
There was no stopping Keane midway through the half, however. A neat combination with Ashley Young released the former Republic of Ireland international to clinically swerve a shot past Hart.
From there, the goals flowed.
Joan Capdevila claimed his first when Dirk Kuyt’s corner was headed towards goal by Micah Richards and he nodded in, only for Young to level again shortly after the half-hour mark by rounding the goalkeeper for a simple tap-in.
But the Spanish full-back restored a lead for the Milner XI before the break. This time, a delivery from the left flank found him unmarked at the far post to turn and slot the ball home for 3-2.
Chris Kirkland thwarted the home team on several occasions in the early stages of the second half as they searched for an equaliser, but the best save came from Stephen Warnock.
The influential Keane sold two defenders a dummy to break free into the box on the hour, drew out Kirkland and squared for the waiting Larsson – but the former Reds left-back superbly blocked his shot on the goalline.
Petrov’s XI finally sliced through the Milner XI defence midway through the half, though.
Keane and Larsson were the architects, switching play quickly to present Gabriel Agbonlahor with a chance to power the ball past Kirkland from yards out.
Both sides pressed for a winner in the time remaining but neither found it and, fittingly, the match ended in a draw on a day when it was the cause, not the result, that mattered.