NextGen Report: Inter 3-2 Liverpool

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Inter Milan U19 3-1 Liverpool U19
NextGen Series 2012/13, Group 5

Two goals from Krisztian Adorjan were not enough to salvage a point as Liverpool U19s were beaten 3-2 in Milan on Wednesday as their NextGen campaign got off to a disappointing start.

Liverpool knew they were in for a tough match against the reigning champions and so it proved as Inter came racing out the blocks in the first few minutes, pressing Liverpool high up the pitch and forcing centre back pairing Stephen Sama and Lloyd Jones into several long balls, conceding possession cheaply. It was Jones’ debut in the NextGen tournament and he was nervy from the off, usually a composed defender, he was caught either trying to overplay or panicking and clearing the ball when under little pressure. He could have done with a little more cover from his more experienced college Sama but he too was having a difficult start to the match and couldn’t really lend any additional help to the young Welshman.

It was no surprise when, or how, the Inter Milan goal arrived. One of the Inter midfielders looped a bass post pass into the box and the inexperienced Jones got caught underneath the flight of the ball – unable to make a firm contact with his header he simply knocked it into the path of Forte and the Inter striker had time to pick his spot and score. It really was a poor goal to concede from Liverpool’s point of view but you have to feel for the sixteen year old centre back; if he had been able to get a good challenge in in the opening five minutes it may have settled him but alas he never got that chance and it was his resultant hesitancy that cost Liverpool.

To be fair to Jones he steadily grew into the game and made a last ditch interception in the closing minutes which stopped a certain goal – at just sixteen years old he is a huge talent and days like today are a good indicator of how a player will respond when he is playing poorly. His second half performance showed strength of character and that will have pleased Borrell.

Minutes after the opening goal Inter were nearly gifted another as goalkeeper Belford, reluctant to kick it long, tried to play a shirt ball to Craig Roddan. The young Scouser lost possession leaving Inter 2v1 in their favour but thankfully the referee adjudged Roddan – correctly – to have been fouled.

It wasn’t just the young Reds who were making defensive mistakes, Liverpool countered quickly on Inter after a corner and there was very nearly a mix up between the goalkeeper and centre back which would have left Liverpool’s fifteen year old striker Jerome Sinclair with a tap in but Inter got away with it.

Soon after though Inter were punished for sloppy defending, what should have been a routine clearance was dallied on and Sinclair challenged for the ball in the penalty area leading the referee to point to the spot for a Liverpool penalty. It looked a tough call on Inter as it appeared Sinclair was actually the one who committed the foul but from the resultant spot kick Krisztian Adorjan – who has been in sparkling form this season – converted his third goal of the season to give Liverpool an unlikely equaliser.

Inter responded well to the blow of losing a goal though and it wasn’t long before they went back in front. Stephen Sama slipped on a throw in which allowed Forte to turn him and cross to Belluci who side footed home from three yards.

The half time whistle went and Liverpool trudged off the pitch having been completely outplayed; only Ryan McLaughlin, Yalany Baio and Jordan Ibe could really be happy with their first half performance.

After the break Liverpool looked much brighter. Adorjan, on the periphery of the game in the first half, started to drift from flank to flank picking up possession in dangerous parts of the pitch. As a result Liverpool started to cause problems for the home side with Ibe and Sinclair both getting good sights of goal – Sinclair in particular forcing a quality save.

During the first half Inter pressed Liverpool high up the pitch to good effect but now they dropped off and allowed the backline to hold possession which settled Sama and Jones but Inter were still dangerous on the break and should have got a shot away following a Liverpool corner however they tried to walk it in and Sama recovered twice to stop the danger.

One of the stand out players, Ryan McLaughlin, was substituted halfway through the second half. It was the Northern Irishman’s first game of the season following an injury and he appeared to exacerbate it when he slid into a mesh fence just off the pitch. Kristoffer Peterson replaced him, moving American Marc Pelosi into his favoured central midfield position and Yalany Baio went to right back. Soon after Jerome Sinclair also came off, replaced by Sam Gainford who experimentally played upfront.

The changes did not have the desired affect however and Liverpool conceded again. A nice passing move in midfield led to the Inter Milan striker getting free on the left hand side of the penalty area and he fired in from a tight angle to essentially finish the tie off.

Once again Inter dropped off and allowed Liverpool to dominate possession, clearly happy with the 3-1 scoreline. They were nearly made to pay for this however as a powerful run from 16 year old Jordan Ibe led to him being fouled and Adorjan stepped up to score his fourth goal of the season – already his second free kick, doubling his goal haul from the last campaign.

In the end though the Italian team were clear and deserved winners, but Liverpool’s second half performance left room for optimism. A lot depends on the form and fitness of Adorjan for potential success in the competition as he is the key player for this side.

Liverpool: Belford: 6, McLaughlin: 7 (Peterson: 6), Sama: 5, Jones: 5, Smith: 6, Roddan: 5, Baio: 6, Ibe: 7, Adorjan: 7, Pelosi: 6, Sinclair: 6 (Gainford: N/A)

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