Liverpool’s youngest-ever side fought valiantly but lacked cutting edge as they fell to a 5-0 loss to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals.
Aston Villa 5-0 Liverpool
League Cup Quarter-Final, Villa Park
December 17, 2019
Goals: Hourihane 14′, Boyes OG 17′, Kodjia 37′, 45′, Wesley 90′
Under severe restriction due to the Club World Cup, Neil Critchley named the Reds’ youngest-ever lineup at Villa Park, with five first-team debutants and six teenagers including first-year scholar Tom Hill.
Despite this, Liverpool started as the more confident side, with both Harvey Elliott and Herbie Kane testing Orjan Nyland in a breathless start to the quarter-final.
Fortune and experience paid as Villa grabbed a two-goal lead before the 20-minute mark, though, as first a Conor Hourihane free-kick eluded Caoimhin Kelleher, and then Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross looped over the ‘keeper via Morgan Boyes.
However, that didn’t deter the young Reds and they kept pushing at the other end, with everything good going through the effervescent Elliott, despite being the youngest player on the pitch.
But a mistake in the middle proved Liverpool’s undoing late in the half, with Jonathan Kodjia benefiting as he surged through and slotted past Kelleher, before adding to his tally with a near-post run and finish just before the break.
HT: Aston Villa 4-0 Liverpool
Liverpool showed spirit after the break, keeping to their tactical remit both on and off the ball, and were almost rewarded in freak circumstances but Nyland made a strong point-blank save to keep Kane’s improvised effort out.
Villa still tested Kelleher, with the Irishman making a good stop to thwart Kodjia while Sepp van den Berg was there to bail him out after Trezeguet beat him to the ball in the box.
Critchley shuffled his pack to bring off the out-of-position Luis Longstaff and send on Jack Bearne, whose introduction highlighted how even this academy side was short on numbers—the 18-year-old only recently back from a long-term injury.
The intensity took its toll late on as Hoever required lengthy treatment for cramp, eventually to be replaced by Scouse full-back James Norris, while the tone of the game shone through as both sets of fans indulged in a chorus of olés.
Tony Gallacher and substitute Leighton Clarkson both drew saves from Nyland in the closing stages, but Liverpool were unable to grab the consolation goal their battling display deserved and to make it worse, Wesley made it 5-0 in the final minute.
TIA Man of the Match: Harvey Elliott
Referee: Lee Mason
Aston Villa: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester (Hause 77′), Konsa, Taylor; Douglas Luiz, Lansbury, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Jota, Kodjia (Wesley 73′)
Subs not used: Kalinic, Guilbert, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi
Liverpool: Kelleher; Hoever (Norris 82′), Van den Berg, Boyes, Gallacher; Chirivella, Kane, Christie-Davies (Clarkson 77′); Elliott, Hill, Longstaff (Bearne 65′)
Subs not used: Winterbottom, Clayton, Dixon-Bonner, Stewart
Next Match: Monterrey (N) – Club World Cup – Wednesday, Dec 18, 5.30pm (GMT)