Liverpool under-21s comfortably beat Everton in last night’s mini-derby at Goodison Park. Two stunning goals from Ryan Kent and a converted penalty from Sheyi Ojo gave Michael Beale’s side an important win.
The game had started well for the hosts as they kept Reds’ goalkeeper Ryan Fulton busy in the early stage of the game. Their pressure paid off in 24th minute when they took the lead.
Ryan Ledson ran off the left touchline to produce a fine diagonal cross which found Harry Charsley who had no problems to tap the ball in the Reds net with no pressure from Liverpool defenders.
But Beale’s side responded quickly and within three minutes had the equaliser. Kent ran forward and, not closed down, decided to shoot. His curled shot went straight into the bottom of Everton goal and left Griffiths with no chance to produce a save.
A couple of minutes later the young Reds should have been in front as Samed Yesil was free in the box, but his shot went slightly wide of the near post.
The first 45 minutes saw a great tempo by both teams and Everton went close to leading again as David Hennen cut from the wing and had an effort just too high over the Fulton’s crossbar.
As the first half went into stoppage time, it was Liverpool again who threatened the opposition. Yesil found himself in front of Griffiths and produced a shot from close range, but the Everton goalkeeper made an impressive save to keep the score level.
Just five minutes into the second half Harry Wilson found himself a chance to score a goal, but the finish from the Welshman went wide off target.
But then the tactical mastermind of Beale started to work as Reds boss introduced attackers Jerome Sinclair and Sheyi Ojo, returning from loan at Wigan, for the final half an hour. Both players one-by-one threatened Griffiths’ goal, but it was Kent who put the Reds up front.
The young forward once again decided to shoot from the distance and scored a real stunner. The ball hit the post before it went into Everton’s net and put Liverpool ahead.
As the game went into the final stages, Liverpool produced a rapid counter-attack. Ojo was tripped in the penalty box by Sylvain Distin and referee awarded the penalty for the Reds. Ojo took the responsibility and coolly dispatched the spot kick.
Everton tried to minimise the defeat in the dying minutes, but Fulton stayed focused and prevented the Blues with impressive saves after Doyson and Kenny’s efforts.
The important derby win moved Liverpool just two points off the top of Barclays U21 Premier League and gave the real chance in the title race for the Reds.
Manager Michael Beale spoke to This Is Anfield after the game and praised his team for the great performance.
“We got a very important win tonight. However, Everton played very well in the first part of the game. Tactically they looked good and caused us some problems. But our players responded very well and acted professionally.
“We were a bit disappointed that we did not score the second goal in the first half, but we started to create some more chances later on.
“Ryan Kent’s performance was a vital one, he scored a nice goal.
“But there are many talented players who can do it. Harry Wilson scored a great goal last time, Jerome Sinclair and Sheyi Ojo are also key players for us.”
“I knew that Ojo and Sinclair could change the game, we spoke about that before and it paid off. We are lucky that with their energy and pace we can change the game on our side.
“But let’s not forget that the game could go either way. We were lucky that our goalie made some fantastic saves and we are really pleased that we grabbed three points at Goodison Park.”
Liverpool U21: Fulton, Whelan, Maguire, Randall, Cleary, O’Hanlon, Canos (Sinclair), Brannagan ( C ), Yesil (Ojo), Kent, Wilson (Trickett-Smith)