LFC 4 (Ibe 11’, Morgan 17, Borini 19’, 80’) – 2 (Cole 7’, Lingard 35’) Manchester UtdA brace from Fabio Borini and goals from Jordon Ibe and Adam Morgan ensured Liverpool Under 21s secured their first win and picked up their first points of the season. Following last week’s defeat at the hands off Southampton, Liverpool Under 21s manager Alex Inglethorpe wanted to bounce back against arch rivals Manchester United. Because of this, Inglethorpe made 6 changes to the opening day starting line-up. Firstly young players Jordan Lussey, Villyan Bijev and Jakub Sokolik made way for first team regulars Martin Kelly, Jordon Ibe and Fabio Borini, after they were not used in the first team’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Saturday. The last time these sides met was when a Larnell Cole hat-trick separated the sides in a 3-0 win in the Under 21 Elite League Semi-Final.
It was the home side Manchester United who started the game brightly creating chances and putting pressure on Danny Ward and his defence. The pressure finally paid off for the Red Devils as in the 7th minute, Larnell Cole gave United the lead after the second attempt. The forward continued his fine goalscoring form against the Reds last year to give Man United a deserved lead.
The opening goal was just what Liverpool needed as they recovered in the best possible way. Fabio Borini, who will be looking for goals to increase confidence found himself in a perfect position and forced a fantastic save of off Ben Amos to prevent and equaliser by tipping it over the crossbar. The Reds then equalised just 4 minutes later when Jordon Ibe collected it on the left hand side and cut inside before placing it past the helpless Ben Amos to give the Reds an equaliser that was truly deserved.
From this stage, Alex Inglethorpe’s side were completing dominating and after good play between the front 3, Jack Dunn picked it up and smashed his effort onto the crossbar past Amos. In the 17th minute, the comeback was complete as Adam Morgan, from a similar position as Jordon Ibe, capitalised from an error by the Michael Keane and fired past Amos to give Liverpool the lead.
Liverpool’s goals did not stop there. Just 2 minutes after Morgan’s goal, a superb run from Jack Dunn resulted in a free-kick for the visitors. From the free-kick, first team striker Fabio Borini picked the ball up and from 25 yards, struck a swerving free-kick that absolutely confused Amos as he could only see the ball fly into the centre of the goal to give Liverpool a 2 goal lead. Each of the goalscorers for the Reds just scored their first goal for the season and judging by Liverpool’s form in front of goal this season, it definitely won’t be their last.
The only negative news for the Reds in the first half was that Manchester born left-back Joe Maguire was booked following good skill by Man Utd’s number 10, Januzaj. On the 35th minute, United got back into the game as a nice one-two from Larnell Cole and Jesse Lingard resulted in the latter retrieving the ball and slotting past Danny Ward in the Liverpool goal. The action-packed first half came to a close with the score 3-2 to the away side, with Fabio Borini having the last chance of the half as his hot was saved by Amos, but if he went down it could have been a penalty.
Knowing that they needed goals in the second half, the home side made a change as Ekangamene made way for Tyler Blackett. Man United then won a dangerous free-kick on the 49th minute as Martin Kelly was adjudged to foul Januzaj, but then David Petrucci could not do anything effective from the set piece. As the hour mark approached, Man United started to assert pressure on Alex Inglethorpe’s young defence. Man United’s best player Januzaj tore inroads into the Reds defence and created chances from nothing.
Man United then made another substitute as Tom Lawrence replaced Angelo Henriguez. Many of you may have remembered Henriguez as he spent last season on-loan at Wigan. However, the forward didn’t make a significant impact on the game due to the dominance of Martin Kelly and Lloyd Jones and also he was out shone by opposite number 9, Fabio Borini. Liverpool again dealt with the pressure well and started to attack. An intelligent through ball from Liverpool’s midfield fell to Borini, and he calmly slotted it past Ben Amos, only for his effort to be ruled out offside.
After a fairly event lacking second half, Man United were creating more of the chances, and the threat was from Belgian winger Januzaj, causing all sorts of problems from set pieces. Because of this, Liverpool had to adjust their game plans and as a result, brought on Jordan Lussey for goalscorer Adam Morgan, to add more defensive support. The Reds definitely needed support as the Red Devils came close with 15 minutes left on the clock. Another decent run from Januzaj left Maguire for dead, and his cross found Tom Lawrence who could only flick it wide from 6 yards out.
As the game entered the closing stages, the home side were dominating possession and creating chances, but Liverpool always had fight in them and after a horrendous backpass from Man United defender Varela fell to Fabio Borini and the Italy Under 21 international rounded Ben Amos and slotted it home from the tightest of angles to double his tally for the night and for the season.
With 5 minutes to go, Liverpool brought on Cameron Brannagan for Jack Dunn, to add fresh legs and a new burst of energy to Alex Inglethorpe’s side. Chances were few and far between in the last 5 minutes as the Reds cruised to a 4-2 over their arch-rivals. A special mention goes to Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly and 16 year old Jordan Rossiter, who were among the stand out performers for the Reds. The Reds’ next game will be next Monday where they face Bolton Wanderers at Kirkby, a 2pm Kick Off.
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Until next time Reds…
LFC XI: Ward; McLaughlin, Maguire, Jones, Kelly (c); Rossiter, Morgan, Roddan, Borini, Dunn, Ibe.
MUFC XI: Amos; Varela, Vermijl, Thorpe, Keane; Ekangamene, Petrucci, Cole, Januzaj, Lingard, Henriguez.