Liverpool fielded their youngest-ever team on Tuesday, losing 5-0 to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals but ultimately doing themselves proud.
Aston Villa 5-0 Liverpool
League Cup Quarter-Final, Villa Park
December 17, 2019
Goals: Hourihane 15′, Boyes OG 17′, Kodjia 37′, 45′, Wesley 90′
Caoimhin Kelleher (out of 10) – 7
Liverpool’s penalty shootout hero from the last round started between the sticks.
No doubt a perfectionist like most goalkeepers, the Irishman will be frustrated with his role in Villa’s opening two goals.
He didn’t look out of place overall, though, showcasing the kind of poise on the ball that Alisson would be proud of and making three good second-half saves.
Ki-Jana Hoever – 7
One of the most highly rated youngsters at Liverpool, this was a big chance for Hoever to shine and he did exactly that.
As is the case with every Reds player on the night, the scoreline should be ignored, and the right-back looked a class act.
Whether it be his quality in possession, physical prowess or defensive work, Hoever is a player who will surely be a regular in the first-team squad before long.
Van den Berg has taken time to settle at his new club and this was his biggest test to date.
The Dutchman didn’t do enough for the third goal, throwing in a limp tackle, but it must be stressed that he was up against older, more physical individuals.
He will only learn from this experience and will be pleased with one clearance off the line after the break.
Morgan Boyes – 6
Boyes was one of five players given his full Liverpool debut at Villa Park and he fared well in general.
He was desperately unfortunate to score a freak own goal, but responded admirably, sticking to his duties and not shirking away from the challenge of thwarting Jonathan Kodjia.
Tony Gallacher – 6
Gallacher started in place of Yasser Larouci, who missed out through injury.
He was one of Liverpool’s less noticeable players, but he defended doggedly up against Ahmed Elmohamady and Jota down Villa’s right flank.
Pedro Chirivella – 7
On a proud night, 22-year-old Chirivella captained the Reds’ senior side for the first time, becoming the 104th person to be given the honour and the third-youngest.
After being loose in possession twice early on, he became increasingly composed at the base of the midfield, showing his experience.
This may end up being Chirivella’s last Liverpool appearance—he went out on a high, despite the result.
Herbie Kane – 7
Kane has more experience than many of his team-mates, following a productive time on loan at Doncaster Rovers last season.
That showed, and after firing over after a nice touch in the first half, he was twice denied by Orjan Nyland when it looked like he had scored.
This was an authoritative showing and one that highlighted the benefits of his loan spell—one eye-catching piece of skill summed up his confidence.
Isaac Christie-Davies – 7
Christie-Davies was the quietest of Liverpool’s midfield trio, but considering it was his debut he passed with flying colours.
An industrious presence who did little wrong, experiences such as these will be invaluable to him moving forward.
Harvey Elliott – 8 (Man of the Match)
Elliott looks a potential superstar of the future, with many supporters more excited to see him in action than anyone else.
It was no surprise that he was comfortably the Reds’ brightest player and he forced Nyland into a good save with a stinging shot.
The 16-year-old looked dangerous every time he got the ball, with one superb pass to Herbie Kane seeing the midfielder hit the target.
Tom Hill – 6
Hill was a surprise addition, but he has shone at Liverpool’s academy this season, scoring six goals and registering five assists in 20 outings.
In truth, the teenager struggled to get into the match, but there was little to fault about him—he simply came up against more seasoned opponents.
To have even made it into the starting lineup is something to celebrate.
Luis Longstaff – 6
Longstaff led the line in the absence of the injured Rhian Brewster and he was lively without having a major impact.
He attempted a few imaginative turns and battled hard up against Villa’s centre-backs, and worked his socks off all evening.
Jack Bearne (on for Longstaff, 64′) – 6
Another debut and he put in a shift when he came on.
Leighton Clarkson (on for Christie-Davies, 77′) – 6
Clarkson enjoyed a late cameo, proving to be solid more than anything.
James Norris (on for Hoever, 82′) – 6
Sixteen years old, Scouser and officially a Liverpool senior player—not too shabby.
Subs not used: Winterbottom, Clayton, Dixon-Bonner, Stewart
Neil Critchley – 7
On an evening centred around a young Liverpool outfit, this was also a memorable occasion for Critchley.
While history will suggest the Reds took a League Cup thumping, that wasn’t the case at all and they played the better football at times.
Critchley deserves huge credit for that, instilling a fearlessness in his players and filling the void left by Jurgen Klopp.