Liverpool under-23s emerged victorious from an eight-goal thriller away to Man United on Friday evening, with two red cards shown in a 5-3 win for Barry Lewtas’ side.
Man United U23s 3-5 Liverpool U23s
Premier League 2, Leigh Sports Village
September 25, 2020
Goals: Elanga 36′, Mejbri 79′, McCann 88′; Clarkson 11′, Woodburn 22′, Bearne 30′, 45+1′, Longstaff 50′
The young Reds looked to get back to winning ways as they arrived in Leigh, on the back of a 2-1 loss to Derby in the league and, in midweek, a 6-1 humbling at Wigan in the EFL Trophy.
Lewtas made three changes to his side from that night against League One opposition, with Ben Winterbottom making his first appearance of the season between the sticks, while Yasser Larouci came in from the cold to start at left-back.
The Algerian is expected to leave the club this summer having rejected the offer of a new contract, but playing the full 90 minutes in an eight-goal thriller suggests Larouci is not close to departing.
Liverpool’s high-intensity approach, much like the first team, saw them dominate from kickoff, and soon they were a goal up as Leighton Clarkson combined with Jack Bearne with a fine one-two before sliding home to open the scoring.
More fine pressing work from Jake Cain crafted the second not long after, and it was the captain, Ben Woodburn, who benefited, beating Ondrej Mastny with a deflected effort for 2-0.
Bearne struck twice either side of an Anthony Elanga goal for United, with the 19-year-old forward stamping his mark on the game, the first a composed finish after a series of rebounds in the box and the second a tap-in after Luis Longstaff’s fine cross.
HT: Man United U23s 1-4 Liverpool U23s
Given their commanding lead, Liverpool will have hoped for even more in the second half, and they got off to the perfect start as Longstaff made it 5-1 with a deserved goal of his own, latching onto a poor clearance from Mastny and curling home.
The young Reds should have coasted to victory from there, but the intensity of the derby saw Clarkson shown a straight red card for an awful challenge on Di’Shon Bernard, with Shola Shoretire given his marching orders for shoving the midfielder in the aftermath.
Winterbottom had already made a brilliant save to deny Elanga a second, but the impressive Hannibal Mejbri clawed one back for United with 11 minutes to play, and then late on Charlie McCann reduced the deficit even further.
Thankfully, Liverpool were too far gone by that point, and though a sending off marred the occasion, it was another memorable derby win for the young Reds.
Next week brings another clash with senior opposition, with a short trip to Tranmere to come in the EFL Trophy, and Lewtas will be looking for his youthful side to keep the momentum and steal a result against the League Two outfit.
TIA Man of the Match: Luis Longstaff
Liverpool U23s: Winterbottom; Bradley (Beck 89′), Savage, Clayton, Larouci; Clarkson; Bearne (Dixon-Bonner 72′), Woodburn, Cain, Millar; Longstaff (O’Rourke 81′)
Subs not used: Davies, Sharif
Next Match: Tranmere (A) – EFL Trophy – Tuesday, September 29, 7pm (BST)