New striker Joe Hardy shines on Liverpool PL2 debut as youngsters thrash Southampton

Liverpool under-23’s showed impressive form and capability as they swept aside the Saints 5-0 at Kirkby Academy on Monday night, with new signing Joe Hardy notching his first goals in a red shirt.

Neil Critchley fielded a strong side, featuring many who have been handed first-team experience already this season. Intriguingly, Welsh full-back Neco Williams continued his eye-catching start to the season and proving himself at present to be ahead of his Dutch competitor, Ki-Jana Hoever, a player many rate very highly.

Harvey Elliott appeared full of confidence having started in his first Merseyside derby just last week and it was the 16-year-old who opened the scoring for the hosts. The teenager tucked away a ball from Spaniard Pedro Chirivella’s, another player highly thought of by manager Jürgen Klopp.

New recruit Hardy stamped his and Liverpool’s authority firmly on the game in the first half, with the 21-year-old signed from Brentford at the beginning of the month showing promising signs as he notched a couple of goals. The first came through good exchange play to which Hardy added the finishing touch, before he put the gloss on a dominant first half by scoring from Curtis Jones’ pass.

Following a superb first period in which Critchley’s men won the game, the second half proved much quieter, until Jones added a goal to his assist. Named man of the match for his exploits against the Blues in the FA Cup, Jones continued his fine form here by finishing from the edge of the box.

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He now has 15 goals this season across all competitions.

Liam Millar returned to the side and found himself on the scoresheet. Brilliant work from Williams on the right, before finding his man, proved enough for the returning striker to get in on the act and complete what was a comprehensive victory over the lacklustre Saints.

A comfortable outing for the young Reds can only prove a positive for the club, as many already on Klopp’s radar only improved their stake for a place in the first team. Strong performances from players like Yasser Larouci and Sepp van den Berg will be of great comfort to Critchley after many questioned the youngsters’ ability to defend earlier in the season.

Overall, this was a truly stunning performance from an u23 side full of talent, balanced with a solid work ethic.

James Miller

Contributor. Bobby Firmino enthusiast. Miller, not Milner.

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