Liverpool U19s came from two goals behind to secure a 3-2 win at Salzburg, an all-important result which secures their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League.
Salzburg U19s 2-3 Liverpool U19s
UEFA Youth League, Untersberg Arena
December 10, 2019
Goals: Sucic 11′, Anselm 24′; Elliott 67′, Hill 79′, Bearne 90+3′
Liverpool’s U19s arrived at a picturesque Untersberg Arena with a play-off place for the competition already secured having cemented their position in the top two of their group.
However, much like the first team, avoid defeat and Barry Lewtas’ side would finish first in Group E and head straight to the round of 16.
In the absence of Curtis Jones, who remained with the senior side as they prepared for their game on Tuesday evening, Neco Williams donned the captain’s armband and led out an experienced side boasting the likes of Ki-Jana Hoever, Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg.
And a bright start for the young Reds saw Elliott and Tom Hill both test Salzburg’s ‘keeper after some impressive interplay in and around the area.
But Liverpool’s vulnerability from balls over the top of their defensive line proved costly as the hosts capitalised on the Reds’ forward movement with a long ball over the top of Van den Berg and James Norris – with Luka Sucic finishing from close range at the first time of asking.
And the deficit was soon doubled as Salzburg again capitalised on Liverpool’s high-line with a curling through ball, and while Ben Winterbottom would save the initial strike he could do little to deny Tobias Anselm on the rebound in the 24th minute.
Liverpool’s build-up play throughout the first half showed there were clear avenues to goal, with the likes of Leighton Clarkson, Williams and Elliott all finding success against a side who had kept just one clean sheet in their previous five games in the competition.
But Lewstas’ side were left to lament their defensive display and their final ball, missing the impetus Jones provides – it ensured they needed to replicate their comeback in the reverse fixture in the second 45 to avoid the last 32 play-offs.
And Elliott, who moments prior had a penalty shout of his own turned down, would peg one back with a well-taken spot-kick after Elijah Dixon-Bonner had been taken out by the ‘keeper.
It left a little over half an hour for Liverpool to clinch at least a point, and while the hosts had then found the bar and continued to test Winterbottom, the Reds were next on the scoresheet.
Clarkson’s perfectly weighted cross into the area found Hill who looped his header over the goalkeeper to see the scoreboard read 2-2 with a little over ten minutes of regulation time remaining.
A flurry of chances would come the way of either side, but the young Reds were the ones to complete the comeback through Jack Bearne to collect all three points which sees them safely qualify for the last 16.
TIA Man of the Match: Leighton Clarkson
Liverpool U18s: Winterbottom; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Norris (Boyes 89′); Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner (Stewart 74′), Cain (Clayton 89′), Elliott; Longstaff (Bearne 80′), Hill
Subs not used: Davies, Savage, O’Rourke
Next game: Blackburn (H) – U18 Premier League – Saturday, Dec 4, 11am (GMT)