Aston Villa 5-0 Liverpool
‣ 1-0: Conor Hourihane (14′)
‣ 2-0: Morgan Boyes OG (17′)
‣ 3-0: Jonathan Kodjia (37′)
‣ 4-0: Jonathan Kodjia (45′)
‣ 5-0: Wesley (90′)
With Jurgen Klopp and the senior squad in Qatar for the Club World Cup this week, a Reds side with an average age of just 19-and-a-half years was led by Neil Critchley at Villa Park.
The young Reds started brightly and looked by far the more accomplished side as they confidently dominated the ball in the opening exchanges.
They could have gone ahead twice in the early minutes, first through Harvey Elliott and then Herbie Kane, however, Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland produced two brilliant saves to deny the duo.
Despite an unconvincing start, the home side struck against the run of play and took the lead as Conor Hourihane’s wide free-kick eluded everyone in the box and sailed past Caoimhin Kelleher in goal.
The Reds found themselves further behind just four minutes later as Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross took a wicked deflection off Morgan Boyes and looped over the head of Kelleher to make it 2-0 to Dean Smith’s side.
Neil Critchley’s side could’ve counted themselves unlucky to be two behind after such a promising start but they responded well and continued to look for openings in the Villa defence.
However, Liverpool’s resilience didn’t last too long. The home side took complete charge of the tie with Jonathan Kodjia, who ran through on goal and slotted home past Kelleher with the outside of his right boot.
The scoreline worsened even further as Elmohamady’s squared ball was turned home by Kodjia, who confidently strode ahead of Sepp van den Berg to make it 4-0 to Villa.
Kane came close for Liverpool after the interval as he got on the end of Boyes’ drilled cross, only for Nyland to make another brilliant save from close-range.
The Reds held their own for much of the second half despite struggling to match the home side’s physicality. However, they failed to create any clear-cut chances for themselves and they didn’t look like getting back into the game at any stage.
Jack Bearne, Leighton Clarkson and James Norris all came on towards the latter stages to make it a total of eight youngsters in the squad to make their first-team debuts for the Reds.
Villa put the icing on the cake and made it five in added time as Wesley slotted home powerfully to hand the Reds a convincing defeat.
The gulf in quality and experience was clear for all to see, but the travelling Kop kept their enthusiasm right until the final whistle as they applauded the youngsters off the pitch.
All eyes now turn to Qatar as the first-team squad take on Mexican side Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening.
Liverpool: Kelleher, Hoever, Boyes, Van den Berg, Gallagher, Kane, Chirivella, Christie-Davies, Elliott, Hill, Longstaff.
Highlights & Goals
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