LFC U21s 5 (Dunn 43’, Alberto 50’, 70’, 81(p), Sterling 52’) – 2 (Rodriguez 30’, Karlsson 40’) Sunderland U21s

Luis Alberto marked his debut for the Liverpool Under 21s with a hat-trick as they beat Sunderland at Anfield. Following Liverpool Under 21s recent victory over arch rivals Manchester United a couple of weeks ago, Alex Inglethorpe’s side were looking to build on that victory when they faced 2nd placed Liverpool. The Reds have had an inconsistent start to the season, picking up 4 points from 3 games, in which they have won one, drew one and lost one. Liverpool made 6 changes from the side that drew with Leicester City last time out. Firstly, defenders Ryan McLaughlin and Stephen Sama were replaced by Jon Flanagan and debutant Tiago Ilori, whilst Martin Kelly moves over to right back. Also, Cameron Brannagan made his first start of the season as he replaced Jordan Lussey, while the two first team wingers Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling came in for Kris Peterson and Adam Morgan. The final change saw Liverpool new boy Luis Alberto replace Joao Teixeira, who was recently loaned out to League One side Brentford.

The game started in a slow fashion, with each team attempting to find their rhythm whilst creating minimal chances, but Sunderland showed attacking intent in the opening stages, but the Liverpool defence looked comfortable dealing with the Black Cats. The first real chance of the game came in the 18th minute, as Jordon Ibe cut in from the wing, produced a step-over, but his execution of the shot did not match his build up play.

Sunderland responded two minutes later, but Scott Harrison could not keep his header down from a corner as the game searched for the first major opportunity. The first real opportunity produced a goal for the away side as McNamee’s wayward shot fell to Watmore, whose cross was cleared by Lloyd Jones only to Rodriguez, and the Spaniard converted to give the Black Cats the advantage, and continue their fine start to the season.

It took Liverpool 7 minutes to try and respond as a good passing moves sees it fall to Luis Alberto whose attempted shot fell to Jon Flanagan, and his fierce shot was deflected for a corner. After all the pressure asserted by Liverpool, Sunderland responded with another goal. Winger Watmore picked it up from inside his own half and ran easily past Jon Flanagan before his diagonal pass found Karlsson and the Sweden Under 19 striker took it past Danny Ward and finished from the tightest of angles to double Sunderland’s lead.

This time however, Liverpool responded immediately after Cameron Brannagan found Martin Kelly on the right wing following a good run, and the Englishman’s low cross found Jack Dunn who helped it past Joel Dixon, who could do nothing to stop the shot, to bring a mediocre first half to a close.

The Reds started the second half brightly, and were rewarded with an equaliser from new boy Luis Alberto. The Spaniard started the move and after a good run from Alberto, he layed it off to Sterling, who returned it to Alberto, and he blasted a shot past a sea of yellow to bring the scores level. The comeback was complete two minutes through Raheem Sterling. Jordon Ibe’s run caused havoc down the right, then he took it inside, and past Joel Dixon before cutting back to Sterling, whose touch eventually crawled over the line to give Liverpool a well deserved lead in the game.

The Reds did not stop there as Jack Dunn went close with a left foot drive just a minute after Sterling’s goal.

Unfortunately bad news followed for Liverpool as Lloyd Jones was sent off for violent conduct on Mandron after the Sunderland player brutally forced Lloyd Jones down to the ground by his neck. Remarkably, the Sunderland player only got a yellow. The setback did not affect the Reds as Raheem Sterling made another chaotic run before striking it with his left foot, only to see his strike bounce off the post, the 4th time the Under 21s have hit the woodwork this season. Raheem Sterling then produced his second assist of the night as his long ball from right back found Luis Alberto who took it round Dixon in the Sunderland goal, before his shot was cleared off the line.

Fortunately for Alberto, the ball spiralled up into the air, to leave a simple tap in with his head for the Spaniard. Liverpool were awarded a penalty with 8 minutes to go, after Raheem Sterling’s took it past ‘keeper Joel Dixon only to be taken down by the Sunderland shot stopper. Sterling wanted to take it, but then gave it to Luis Alberto, who completed his hat-trick in a rather unconvincing fashion to give Liverpool a 5-2 lead and give Alberto a hat-trick in front of the famous Kop to bring a close to a phenomenal second half for Alex Inglethorpe’s side.

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LFC XI: Ward; Kelly, Jones, Ilori, Flanagan; Rossiter, Brannagan, Alberto; Ibe, Dunn, Sterling.

Sunderland XI: Dixon, Marrs, Ferguson, Cabral, Harrison, McNamee, Watmore, Rodriguez-Gorrin, Mandron, Honeyman, Karlsson.