Man United U23s 1-3 Liverpool U23s
Premier League 2, Leigh Sports Village
October 23, 2017
Goals: Ejaria (14′), Grujic (70′), H. Wilson (74′); J. Wilson (61′)
Liverpool’s youngsters suffered their first Premier League 2 defeat of the season last week, with howling winds affecting them and Derby County prevailing 2-0 at St George’s Park.
Grujic also started against the Reds’ bitter rivals, despite a second-half cameo for the first-team against Tottenham on Sunday. The trio to make way were Lloyd Jones, Cameron Brannagan and Yan Dhanda.
Liverpool were ahead in the 14th minute, after Ejaria fired home expertly following some typically quick footwork. The Reds were superb in the opening half an hour.
Alexander-Arnold fired just wide after good work by Danny Ings, as the visitors continued to dominate their rivals, but Demetri Mitchell did just miss the target for Ricky Sbragia’s side.
The lively Ings almost pounced early in the second-half, while the always impressive Kamil Grabara did well to keep out a lopping cross.
Ings, who cannot seem to find the net at the moment, saw his shot blocked on the line after Wilson was initially kept out, as Liverpool pressed for a second goal.
Ejaria nearly bagged a twice with a curled strike, but despite their superiority, the Reds suddenly found themselves level, after United’s Wilson finished well to make it 1-1.
Liverpool were ahead again nine minutes later, however, as Grujic rose highest from a corner to guide a header into the far corner.
Grabara made a big save almost straight away to keep his side in the lead, and Wilson killed the game as a contest with a clinical finish soon after.
It was another imperious performance from Critchley’s talented side, and the three points keep them top of Premier League 2.
Have Grabara & Masterson caught Klopp’s eye?
Jurgen Klopp hasn’t exactly got a plethora of quality options in goal or at centre-back, and Grabara and Conor Masterson will have done their reputations no harm whatsoever against United on Monday.
Grabara, in particular, was influential, making several genuinely eye-catching saves and cutting an extremely confident figure. Could he get a chance in the first-team soon?
Masterson wasn’t called into question as much, but he exuded a level of calm and composure beyond his years, and impresses every time he takes to the pitch.
It would be reckless for Klopp to throw the duo straight into the team any time soon, but on current evidence, they could be better options than Mignolet and Lovren sooner rather than later.
Woodburn & Ejaria run the show
Liverpool always looked too strong for United, and it was two of the more established names who looked a class apart.
Woodburn is maturing all the time, and some of his touches, positional sense and awareness of everything going on around him was a joy to watch.
We can be guilty of over-hyping youngsters at Anfield, but the Welshman is the real deal, and has a very bright future ahead of him.
Ejaria, meanwhile, oozed silkiness and physical prowess in the middle of the park, and his goal was brilliantly taken.
He is such an aesthetically-pleasing footballer when on top of his game, and hopefully he will kick on again after falling down the first-team pecking order. United struggled to contain the 19-year-old all night.
Man of the Match: Ovie Ejaria
Grabara and Woodburn come close, and Wilson and Grujic were very good in the second-half, but for his goal and all-round quality, Ejaria edges it.
Liverpool: Grabara, Alexander-Arnold, Masterson, Whelan, Flanagan, Grujic, Ejaria, Woodburn, Virtue (Brannagan 73′), Wilson (Adekanye 86′), Ings.
Subs: Kelleher, Jones, Juanma.