Liverpool’s under-23s suffered defeat to German side Wolfsburg, conceding from a corner in stoppage time.
Liverpool U23s 1-2 VfL Wolfsburg U23s
Premier League International Cup, Prenton Park, September 28, 2016
Goals: Lennon (80); Brekalo (51), Hansen (90+1).
There was a surprise start for Mamadou Sakho in defence, while there was no Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria or Danny Ings in the squad due to the trio training with the first-team instead on Wednesday.
Cameron Brannagan returned to the lineup having been on the bench for the 3-0 win over Sunderland on Sunday.
Sakho’s inclusion meant fans finally got to see the partnership alongside Tiago Ilori – three years after the pair were signed for over £20 million and talked up as the future of the club’s defence.
There was a healthy crowd at Prenton Park, with Sakho’s early touches cheered.
It was a slow start to proceedings, with neither side creating a clear cut chance. Brannagan had a half chance for the home side but Wolfsburg began to take control of possession as the first half progressed.
Liverpool though enjoyed their best spell in the 10 minutes before the break and had a superb chance to take the lead but Branngan somehow transpired to put the ball into the side netting from five yards.
The Reds’ midfielder almost made up for that miss with a good strike from the edge of the box just before the break, but saw his effort palmed wide for a corner.
The visitors took the lead in 51st minute when Josip Brekalo finished after a good save from Liverpool ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher rebounded nicely for the visitors who had broken away four vs. one.
Captain Harry Wilson went close to levelling shortly after, with a powerful left-footed effort from the edge of the box that just went wide of the far post.
Liverpool pushed to find a way back into the game, bringing on Brooks Lennon and Adam Phillips to provide more attacking impetus.
And it was Lennon who levelled with 10 minutes to go, slotting in with a good finish when put through by Ben Woodburn. It was a clinical finish from the American teenager, and a deserved equaliser for Michael Beale’s side.
The young Reds showed good resilience to get back into the game against a strong opponent, and could have won it late on when Connor Randall forced a good save from the ‘keeper and a penalty shout was denied.
There was almost a winner for Sakho when the defender’s header glanced the post in the 87th minute. The Frenchman played the 90 minutes, producing some trademark blocks and putting his body on the line. His rustiness did show though on occasion.
But there was a sting in the tale when Wolfsburg’s Hendrik Hansen headed home a corner at the back post in stoppage time. A problem for Liverpool at all levels, it seems.
A draw would have been a fair result, but Liverpool will have learnt plenty from this match.
Beale’s side looked much better with Lennon up front and the American is one to keep an eye on.
Liverpool: (4-2-3-1) Kelleher; Randall, Ilori, Sakho, Maguire; Chirivella, Virtue (Phillips 70); Wilson, Brannagan, Woodburn; T Gomes (Lennon 62)
Subs not used: Firth, Brewitt, Juanma, Lewis, Whelan.
Referee: Anthony Blackhouse
Next U23s’ Match: Ipswich Town (A) Sunday 2 October, 1pm; Premier League Cup