Liverpool Under 17s have just finished competing in the 2014 Aegon Future Cup, Scott Taylor (@ScottTaylorUK) reviews the tournament from a Liverpool perspective and explains how the young Reds performed in the tournament.
Aegon Future Cup 2014 Review
This prestigious youth tournament was originally set up by Dutch giants Ajax and the sponsors of the tournament Aegon to promote young talent from all over the world. The format of the tournament is that there are eight teams competing across two Pools, with the top two from each qualifying for the next stage.
The eight teams involved were: Ajax (Holland), Liverpool FC (England), SC Corinthians (Brazil), Celtic FC (Scotland), AC Milan (Italy), SL Benfica (Portugal), Fenerbahce (Turkey), RSC Anderlecht (Belgium). In the tournament there’s only one team from each country and traditionally it’s very tough to win.
First Game: Liverpool U17s 4 (Wilson 3’, 28’, Watts 23’, Ojo 45’) – 0 Corinthians U17s
Liverpool Under 17s started their tournament on Saturday, 19th April, when they faced a stern Corinthians outfit which looked to be a tough test for Des Meyer’s side in their opening game.
The Reds were not concerned with the threat of the Brazilian side though and easily dispatched them winning the game 4-0. The English outfit started the game very brightly as they often do and took the lead in the third minute when Jordan Rossiter’s long ball was perfectly placed over the Corinthians defence to find Harry Wilson, and the Wales international continued his fine form to score his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
Another long ball was the cause for Liverpool’s second, but this time it was Pedro Chirivella with the lofted clearance that was charged down by Sheyi Ojo. The 16 year old then had his shot saved but the rebound fell to Jack Watts, who tapped it into an empty net.
It was 3-0 five minutes later when Sheyi Ojo bursted down the left hand side and got to the by-line before crossing for an unmarked Wilson, and the winger had no problem finding the net from 12 yards out. The Brazilian side went close just after Liverpool’s third but Fernandinho beat Owen Wheeler but not the goalframe as his right footed strike smashed the post.
Former MK Dons player Ojo rounded off a very good performance when he deservedly got on the score sheet to wrap the game up when a Corinthians corner was cleared to Ojo on the edge of his own penalty area and the Englishman burst all the way from his penalty area to Corinthians penalty box before cutting in from the left wing and finishing nicely with his right foot on the stroke of half time as Liverpool Under 17s got off to a winning start in the Aegon Futures Cup, easily beating Corinthians 4-0.
Second Game: Liverpool U17s 0 – 1 (Thompson 54’) Celtic U17s
Just three hours later, Des Meyer’s side kicked off against fellow Brits Celtic in their second game of the tournament. After beating the Brazilian outfit 4-0, the Reds’ confidence was high and they faced a Celtic side who themselves lost 1-0 to Ajax in the opening game of this tournament.
However, form didn’t matter in this fixture between these two historic clubs as it was the Bhoys who beat the Reds 1-0 thanks to a winner from midfielder Joe Thompson. That means the Reds were second in Pool A, behind hosts Ajax who have won their opening two games of the tournament and above opponents Celtic only on goal difference.
Third Game: Liverpool U17s 2 (Ojo, Wilson) – 0 Ajax U17s
Liverpool Under 17s ended the group stages in a top of the table clash against unbeaten Ajax. After having a mixed day on Saturday, the Under 17s were hoping for a win in their only game on Sunday.
The young Reds, that included Under 21 players Jordan Rossiter, Pedro Chirivella and Sheyi Ojo as well as Under 18 regulars Harry Wilson, Tom Brewitt and Sergi Canos, proved too strong for the Dutch outfit. Liverpool inflicted the damage as Ajax lost their first game of the tournament.
Sheyi Ojo got his second goal of the tournament when he capitalised on a mistake between the Ajax goalkeeper and defender to give the Reds a well deserved lead. Harry Wilson then scored his third goal in three games when he received a pass from Liverpool trialist Ejaria and neatly chipped it over the on rushing Ajax goalkeeper as Liverpool picked up a comfortable win over the hosts. Despite the defeat, Ajax did qualify as did Liverpool and it was the Reds who would come up against Italian giants AC Milan in the semi-final of the tournament.
Semi-Final: Liverpool U17s 3 (Wilson 10’, Watts 24’, Ojo 36’) – 1 AC Milan (Casiraghi 11’)
After victory over Ajax hours before, Liverpool Under 17s were back in action when they faced AC Milan in the semi-final. The Reds again started brightly and took the lead when Harry Wilson’s run down the run resulted in the Welshman cutting in from the flank and firing a low drive into the far corner of the net to give the Reds the lead. Moments later, AC Milan were level thanks to a fantastic low drive by Milan midfielder Casiraghi, which was too strong for Liverpool goalkeeper Shamal George.
Wilson was again involved in the second Liverpool goal when his run and pass found Sheyi Ojo, who’s effort hit the post and the rebound fell to Jack Watts, who slotted it into an empty net.
In the 36th minute it was 3-1 after Ojo got his goal he deserved. An individual brilliance of skill from Sheyi Ojo resulted in the playmaker running between two players and being taken down by the third, a clear penalty to Liverpool. Ojo then picked himself up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way as he made it 3-1 to Liverpool in the 36th minute as they faced Ajax again in the final.
Final: Liverpool U17s 1 (Ojo 6’)– 2 (El Idrissi 46’, Virtue-Thick OG 57’) Ajax U17s
Following a huge victory over Milan in the semi-final, it was a sense of de ja vu when they faced Ajax in the final, a team they beat in the last game of the group stages. In front of Dutch legend Edwin Van Der Sar, Liverpool took the lead when a ball was not cleared in the box and it flew all the way to Ojo at the back post to poke home at the back post in the 6th minute to give the Reds a lead.
After that though, it was all Ajax and following a heroic block of the line by Tom Brewitt, Ajax levelled through El Idrissi when the ball was squad to him and all he has to do was hit it into an empty net and he did just that as the Dutch side equalised in the 46th minute.
A bit of luck followed for Ajax when Liverpool midfielder Matthew Virtue-Thick’s clearance hit the outside of his foot and spiralled over Reds goalkeeper Owen Wheeler to give Ajax the lead and that was eventually the winner as Ajax beat Liverpool to win the 2014 Aegon Futures Cup.
So a disappointing end to a very good tournament for the young Reds as they miss out on the cup by losing in the final to hosts Ajax. The positives were that Liverpool players Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson shone in the tournament as well as trialist Ejaria. For more Academy updates on all things Liverpool FC, follow me on Twitter: @ScottTaylorUK.