By Scott Taylor
Dan Cleary and Jerome Sinclair’s injury time goals helped Liverpool Under 19s beat ten-men Basle 3-0 at Langtree Park. The Reds had to win the tie by two or more goals to progress into the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League. Ryan Kent gave Neil Critchley’s side the lead shortly before half-time, but Cleary and Sinclair smashed home to ensure Liverpool progressed.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the young Reds however, as the Swiss side did pile on the pressure when the score was goalless, but both Charles Pickel and Albian Ajeti couldn’t keep their shots on target. Ajeti then had another chance soon after, but the impressive Ryan Fulton denied him.
Sheyi Ojo thought he had won his side a penalty after 11 minutes, but instead the referee thought that the attacking midfielder dived and was therefore booked for simulation.
With Basle asserting some pressure on Liverpool, Pedro Chirivella thought he had given his side the lead, but his shot was heroically cleared off the line by the Swiss defence as both sides squandered opportunities to open the scoring.
That opportunity wasn’t missed in the 38th minute though, as in-form Ryan Kent raced clear of the Basle defence to strike a low shot into the bottom corner and give Critchley’s men the edge going into half-time, so far so good for the Reds.
Needing another goal to seal their progression, Liverpool started creating frequent chances. Firstly, Ojo tried to curl one into the top corner, but only curled it straight into Andres Zimmerman’s arms in the Basle goal. Then, defender Cleary rose highest from a corner but couldn’t keep his effort down.
With all the offensive play shown by Liverpool, a goal was looking likely, but Basle forward Ajeti could’ve slimmed the chances of the Reds winning by two goals when he raced through on goal. There was only Fulton to beat but the Scotsman did brilliantly to make himself big and produce a save that was to be very important.
Winger Nicolas Hunziker then had another chance for the visitors, but his effort flew over Fulton’s goalframe, as the Swiss side continued to waste their opportunities.
With 13 minutes of stoppage shown becuase of a head injury to left-back Sam Hart, the Reds pushed on for that all important second goal. They were rewarded moments later, as substitute Adam Phillips’ ball into the box was perfectly weighted for Cleary and the Irishman powered his header past the Basle shot-stopper to double Liverpool’s lead.
There was further frustration for Liverpool’s opponents, as Pickel was sent off after picking up his second yellow of the afternoon, meaning Basle’s hopes of qualifying were becoming slimmer and slimmer.
Those chances were reduced to nothing when Sergi Canos’ cross into the box found striker Jerome Sinclair and he added a third late on as Liverpool quality and Basle, who topped the group prior to kick-off, crashed out.
Liverpool U19s: Fulton; Whelan, Cleary, Maguire, Hart (Brewitt 85′); Rossiter (Arnold 90+14′), Canos, Chirivella (Phillips 84′), Sinclair, Kent, Ojo.
Unused Substitutes: Firth, O’Hanlon, Ejaria, Marsh.
Basle U19s: Zimmermann; Mumenthaler, Ad Ajeti, Pacheco, Fischer; Pickel, Huser; Hunziker (Itten 61′), Weber (c) (Kamber 90+6′), Cani (Manzambi 90+2′); Ajeti.
Unused Substitutes: Lindenthal, Roth, Mbarga, Petretta.
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