With an average age of less than 20 amongst the starting line-up, this was never going to be a normal game for the Reds. All that mattered was the youngsters played with passion and pride — the ‘Liverpool way’.
And that they did. A positive start was marked with a good chance for Herbie Kane, but he was denied by Aston Villa’s reserve ‘keeper Ørjan Nyland.
Shortly after that, however, a few fortunate goals for the home side saw Liverpool’s makeshift side go three goals down, albeit against the run of play.
The young Reds — inspired by Harvey Elliott — continued to create chances, but a badly-defended fourth before half-time killed off the tie as a contest.
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The second-half was a tighter affair, but after striker Wesley entered the game as a substitute he was able to slot home a fifth.
Anyway, as this team and game was so unique, I’m using an adapted ratings system tonight:
1 — Currently a very long way off the level required for the first team
2 — Not yet near first-team standard
3 — Could push for a first-team opportunity in the coming years
4 — Could offer a rotation option for the first team
5 — Will make first-team appearances sooner rather than later
Here we go, then:
Kelleher 1 — Arguably let himself down for three of the five goals. A long way to go, despite his penalty heroics last time out.
Hoever 4 — Already has the top level athleticism required.
Van den Berg 2 — Does not look quite the prospect we thought we were picking up in the summer. Slow on the turn and some sketchy positioning.
Boyes 1 — Unlucky with the own goal, but the kid looked out of his depth.
Gallacher 3 — Considering our lack of left-back depth, the Scot could conceivably fill-in in the first team, at some point. Good effort from distance late-on.
Christie-Davies 3 — Composed on the ball and full-blooded in the challenge. Impressive.
Chirivella 2 — While you could sense the Spaniard’s greater experience, a few misplaced passes could have caused problems on the counter-attack.
Kane 2 — Unlucky not to score on multiple occasions. Could see him getting a chance if he were 19, but at 21, Kane was one of the Reds’ oldest players today.
Elliott 5 — Would cause problems in the Premier League right now. Looked the best player on the pitch at times and is still only 16 years old. Special.
Longstaff 1 — Did precious little and seemed to press inefficiently, although we are used to a freak in Roberto Firmino.
Hill 2 — Couple of bursts of pace from the 17-year-old, but lacks physicality.
Bearne 1 — Hardly impacted the game.
Clarkson 1 — Could have done better with a couple of opportunities.
Norris N/A — ‘Chucked’ on for Hoever. I’m here all week.