Liverpool U19s, just like the first team, had to beat Basel to progress to the latter stages of the UEFA Youth League. However the U19s had to win by two clear goals. Unlike the first team the U19s managed to do what was required. PJ Vaughan reports on the match.
Liverpool U19 3-0 Basel U19
UEFA Youth League
Tuesday, 9th December 2014
Match Report by PJ Vaughan Follow @talkingpj
The first half was a cautious affair. Neither team dominated the play. Liverpool were almost the architects of their own misfortune on a number of occasions. Daniel Cleary, the Liverpool centre back, needlessly gave away possession deep in the Liverpool half on two occasions in the first half. On one of these occasions Albian Ajeti, the main danger man for Basel was clear through on goal, but he shot just wide. Ryan Fulton, the Liverpool goalkeeper, also made a fantastic save from Ajeti just after the half hour mark to keep the task easier for Liverpool.
Liverpool’s centre midfield pairing were struggling to get control of the game. It seemed both sides were happy to play counter attack football. Liverpool’s main danger man Sheyi Ojo was booked for a dive early on in the game, he tried to not let that affect his game. It was obvious that Basel had identified Ojo as was persistently fouled for the rest of the half, with a number of Basel players picking up bookings.
Jerome Sinclair also seemed to struggle with the physical side of the game early on. It was not until he switched with Ojo that he started to get more into the game. It was Sinclair’s run that created Liverpool’s best chance when he found Pedro Chirivella free in the Basel box. Chirivella probably took one touch too many and he his shot was cleared off the line. There is no goal line technology or extra officials at this level to determine if the ball had crossed the line.
A moment of brilliance
The first half was looking to be heading for stalemate until Ryan Kent picked the ball up in the left channel, dribbled past the Basel defence and powered a shot low into the Basel net. It was exactly what Liverpool needed before the half time break.
Slow start to the second half
Liverpool struggled to make any clear cut chances in the second half. The Reds’ best chances seemed to becoming from set pieces. Cleary headed over and the referee was giving soft free kicks to Basel for the smallest infringements in the box. Ojo had one curled effort early in the half but the Basel keeper saved comfortable. As the half wore on it seemed Basel were the most likeliest to score. Nicolas Hunziker broke away from the Liverpool defence and he fired just over when it seemed easier to score.
The Liverpool defence were often caught out of position and were not getting the protection required from their midfield. Team shape seems to be a problem at all levels of the club. On occasions there was no midfielder sitting to stop a counter and neither had the legs to get back. Liverpool’s centre backs were being getting dragged to the flanks and leaving huge gaps in the middle. The fullbacks were not tucking in to stop Basel attackers cutting inside.
Anyone that watches the academy teams in the last couple of seasons will be well used to seeing defenders and goalkeepers giving away needless possession deep in the Liverpool half, that often leads to on one chances. There are serious questions that need to be asked how Liverpool defends both individually and as a team.
Super Adam Philips
As the game wore on it seemed less and less likely that Liverpool would get the second goal they required. They did not have a firm enough grip on the game and there were no clear cut chances being created. Basel were also dangerous on the break. A nasty injury to Sam Hart meant that there would be 13 minutes added time. Hart’s injury also meant the introduction of Tom Brewitt, who helped solve some of the defence problems.
However it was not until the introduction of Adam Philips that the game changed. Chirvella had tried hard all day but was not having one of his better games. Philips’ impact was instant. He picked the ball up on the right and delivered what could only be described as a Steven Gerrard-like cross. It was deadly accurate with a lot of pace and Dan Cleary only had to get his head on it to make it 2-0. Exactly the scoreline Liverpool needed to progress.
Two becomes three
Charles Pickel was promptly sent off for Basel on what looked a very soft second booking. Liverpool added a third soon after when Canos’ cross was headed home by Sinclair. Sinclair is a very natural instinctive finisher. I feel a loan move to a League One or League Two team would be great for Sinclair, as he needs to adjust to the physical side of football.
So I’m not quite sure how Liverpool managed to get the result but they did. It was far from a vintage display and Basel were not worthy of a 2-0 never mind a 3-0. But as they say, we will take it. It’s a shame the first team did not enjoy similar levels of fortune on Tuesday night.
Liverpool U18 take on Bradford City in the FA Youth Cup on Monday. The FA Youth Cup is a fantastic competition and hopefully Liverpool can get to the latter stages of it. It would be nice to see the club win more FA Youth Cups.
Fulton 7, Whelan 6.5, Hart 6 (Brewitt), Cleary 6, Maguire 6.5, Rossiter 7 (Alexander), Canos 6.5, Chirivella 6.5 (Phillips), Sinclair 7, Kent 7.5, Ojo 6.5.
Unused substitutes: Firth, O’Hanlon, Ejaria, Marsh.
Man of the Match
Ryan Kent shaded it from Fulton, Rossiter and Sinclair. Kent has being a very consistent performer all season and just needs some more physical attributes to make the step up to the next level.