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Liverpool U23s finish season in style with thrashing of Chelsea

Liverpool U23s cruised to a 5-1 win over Chelsea U23s at Anfield on Tuesday night, securing runners-up spot in Premier League 2 in the process.

Liverpool U23s 5-1 Chelsea U23s

Premier League 2, Anfield
May 8, 2018

Goals: Johnston 21′ & 62′, Adekanye 41′, Dhanda pen 51′, Juanma 90′; Taylor-Crossdale 58′

The title has evaded the Reds this season, after Arsenal‘s recent victory over West Ham earned glory for the north Londoners.

Neil Critchley‘s side still had second in the table to play for, however, as Chelsea‘s youngsters made the trip north to Anfield. A win would see them leapfrog second-place Leicester City, who had already finished their season.

Critchley made six changes to the side that beat Everton 3-1 in the ‘mini-derby’ last month, on a lovely Merseyside evening.

Kamil Grabara, Tony Gallacher, Liam Coyle, Bobby Adekanye, Liam Millar and Yan Dhanda came in for Danny Ward, Conor Masterson, Ben Woodburn, Curtis Jones, Rafa Camacho and Dominic Solanke.

Coyle made his first appearance since September, following long-term back issues.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 8, 2018: Liverpool's George Johnston (right) celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mate Yan Dhanda during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Critchley makes six changes after ‘mini-derby’ win last month
  • Coyle starts after being injured since September
  • Johnston opens the scoring with a first-half header
  • Excellent Adekanye doubles the Reds’ lead before half-time
  • Dhanda’s inch-perfect penalty makes it 3-0
  • Chelsea pull one back but Johnston and Juanma put the game to bed
  • Liverpool confirmed as Premier League 2 runners-up

The game got off to an entertaining start, with Adekanye’s pace and power causing Chelsea some early trouble down the right flank.

George Johnston’s deflected header flew narrowly wide from Dhanda’s precise corner, and from the resulting set-piece, Herbie Kane missed the target.

Nat Phillips made a crucial interception at the other end, as a rather sparse Anfield crowd was treated to an entertaining start.

Johnston opened the scoring for the Reds with 21 minutes on the clock, powering home from Adam Lewis’ delivery. It was no more than the Reds deserved.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had a wonderful chance to equalise almost straight away, but he shanked his effort wide in front of the Kop.

Kane showed some nice footwork before curling a fierce shot over the bar, and Juan Castillo volleyed wide at the back post for the visitors.

Liverpool’s lead was doubled shortly before half-time, as the impressive Adekanye cut back onto his weaker right foot and found the top corner.

Charlie Brown should have made it 2-1 immediately, but his shot went inches wide, as Critchley’s youngsters went in 2-0 up at the break.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 8, 2018: Liverpool's Yan Dhanda celebrates scoring the third goal, from a penalty kick, during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A penalty was awarded to Liverpool early in the second half, even though Johnston scored before the referee’s whistle blew. It didn’t matter, though, as Dhanda produced a perfect spot-kick to make it 3-0.

Chelsea did pull a goal back before the hour mark, as Brown teed-up Martell Taylor-Crossdale to tap home and reduce the arrears.

Johnston, who could easily have scored a stoppage-time his aforementioned ‘goal’ had been awarded, headed into the net to register a well-deserved brace, ending the game as a contest.

Substitute Juanma’s superb stoppage time curler was the icing on the cake, rounding off an excellent team performance.

It has been a very good season on the whole, especially with key figures such as Harry Wilson and Ovie Ejaria out on loan, and Woodburn often not involved.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 8, 2018: Liverpool's Bobby Adekanye celebrates scoring the second goal during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

TIA Man of the Match: Bobby Adekanye

Liverpool: Grabara; Whelan, Phillips, Johnston, Gallacher (Juanma 88′); Coyle (Whyte 80′), Kane, Lewis; Adekanye, Dhanda, Millar (Gomes 84′)

Subs not used: George, McAuley

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