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Pascal Struijk scores as Leeds inflict humbling defeat on Liverpool U23s

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Suspended for the first team after his red-card challenge on Harvey Elliott, Pascal Struijk instead started and scored as the Leeds under-23s humbled Liverpool.

Liverpool U23s 0-4 Leeds U23s

Premier League 2, Kirkby
September 19, 2021

Goals: Gelhardt 12′ 62′, Miller 45+1′, Struijk 59′


It was a disappointing afternoon for Barry Lewtas’ U23s as they slumped to a 4-0 home defeat to last season’s Premier League 2 champions Leeds, thanks to a fantastic solo performance for Joe Gelhardt.

Having been victorious in just one of their opening four league fixtures so far this season, the young Reds will be thoroughly disheartened with their showing on Sunday afternoon.

As the academy opened their doors to plenty of fans for the first time in just over 15 months, many arrived hoping to catch a glimpse of the Reds’ newest hotshot, Kaide Gordon.

However, Gordon wasn’t involved in Sunday afternoon’s fixture as he seems certain to make his senior Liverpool debut in Tuesday evening’s League Cup tie against Norwich at Carrow Road.

Gordon has more than made his mark at youth level this season, as he has fired in two goals in four league games, one of which came in the mini-Merseyside derby last month.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 29, 2021: Liverpool's Jack Bearne during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Manchester United FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his absence, Mateusz Musialowski, Max Woltman and Jack Bearne were tasked with troubling a Leeds side that had already taken maximum points on the road in Premier League 2 this season.

Lewtas’ side struggled from the first whistle as most of the opening 10 minutes were played inside their half, with the hosts forced to compactly guard their box.

It seemed that Liverpool had survived Leeds’ early onslaught as they began to string some passes of their own together in the hope of working their way up to Kristoffer Klaesson between the Whites’ sticks.

James Norris had the home side’s first effort on target as he fancied his chances from 25 yards out, but the effort was all too comfortable for Klaesson.

The Reds then fell behind when they sloppily gave the ball away in the middle of the park as they attempted to form an attack.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 29, 2021: Leeds United's Joseph Gelhardt celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Manchester United FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And it looked like it would be a fairly routine defensive reset for Lewtas’ side, but that was until Joe Gelhardt, who was lurking just inside the Liverpool half, picked his head up and audaciously chipped Marcelo Pitaluga from 45 yards out.

Liverpool reacted fairly well to going behind early, as they looked to push the Whites back in the hope of letting the game unfold in their half.

Just like Jurgen Klopp’s senior side, it looked like the young Reds’ strength would come from set-pieces as they boast the 6’4″ Billy Koumetio.

However, this time the defender made his presence felt with the ball on the ground as he threaded a perfectly weighted line-breaking ball to onrushing midfielder Tyler Morton, who nearly caught Klaesson out with a delightful lob of his own.

However, Liverpool failed to make their brief dominance count as Amari Miller doubled the away side’s lead just before the interval after a pinpoint drag-back from Gelhardt.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 29, 2021: Liverpool's James Norris during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Manchester United FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Morgan Boyes and Elijah Dixon-Bonner were introduced during the interval as Tyler Morton and Dominic Corness made way.

However, Lewtas’ changes didn’t yield the desired effects as senior defender Struijk rose highest to power a header past Pitaluga early into the second half to all but settle the game.

Having said that, the away side didn’t stop there as Gelhardt grabbed his second and Leeds’ fourth just minutes later with another unbelievable finish – this time picking the ball up from 35 yards out and curling it into the top corner, leaving Pitaluga helpless in his scramble to tip it behind.

The young Reds’ disastrous afternoon was perfectly encapsulated when Musialowski found himself on the end of a penalty-box scramble with the ball breaking kindly to him, and with just the ‘keeper to beat, the Polish forward somehow poked his effort wide.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 29, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga looks dejected as Leeds United score the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Manchester United FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite the scoreline, Pitaluga made some excellent stops to keep the margin at four. No more notably than his penalty save 10 minutes from time to deny the fantastic Gelhardt from claiming the match ball.

After being brought down by Boyes, the striker dusted himself down to take the spot-kick. However, Liverpool’s Brazilian was equal to it as he dived to his left to palm it away.


Liverpool U23s: Pitaluga; Gallacher, Clayton, Koumetio, Beck; Norris, Corness (Boyes 46′), Morton (Dixon-Bonner 46′); Musialowski, Bearne, Woltman

Subs not used: Hughes, Wilson

Next match: Chelsea (A) – Premier League 2 – Friday, September 24, 7pm (BST)

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