By Scott Taylor
Jerome Sinclair scored his 22nd goal of the season as Liverpool Under-21s beat title rivals Chelsea 2-0 at Chester’s Deva Stadium. Harry Wilson put Michael Beale’s side ahead in the 9th minute. Liverpool’s youngest ever player Sinclair then scored a brilliant solo effort nine minutes into the second half as the Reds moved up to fifth in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
Chelsea started brightly and almost went ahead in the opening stages. Isaiah Brown had an opportunity to volley the bouncing ball home, but it went just over Lawrence Vigouroux’s crossbar.
Liverpool immediately hit back. Captain Cameron Brannagan played through the in-form Sergi Canos, but the former La Masia starlet dragged his shot wide. In the 9th minute, Liverpool did get their reward though. A ball lofted over the top fell to Sinclair, who outpaced Fikayo Tomori before the defender brought Sinclair down for a penalty.
Wales international Wilson then stepped up from 12 yards and sent Jamal Blackman to give Beale’s side the lead on a cold Monday night in the north. Goalscorer Wilson then had another chance of his own. A long ball forward from Dan Cleary was controlled by the winger, but he couldn’t keep his shot on target. Nevertheless, Liverpool went into the half-time break a goal to the good.
A carbon copy second half soon followed. Again, Brown had Chelsea’s best chance in the opening minutes. His trickery fooled Cleary but the Ireland Under-19 defender recovered well to block his goalbound shot.
Canos went up the other end of the pitch moments later and was denied by a strong save from the on-rushing Blackman. After seeing his shot saved, the versatile forward played in Sinclair on the left wing. Again Sinclair outpaced Tomori on the flank as he cut in from the by-line to fire a shot into the roof of the net from an extremely tight angle to double the Reds’ lead.
Tomori and Blackman were two of the three Chelsea changes from their 2-1 defeat at league leaders Manchester United three weeks ago, but neither of them could stop Sinclair.
Chelsea brought on first-year scholar Tammy Abraham on in search of goals, but after receiving a pass from Charley Musonda, the youngster fired wide. England youth international Dominic Solanke then had a header in the closing stages, but that again failed to hit the target as Liverpool move above their Merseyside rivals Everton with all three points.
In fact, Liverpool next face Everton on Monday 9 March, again at Chester’s Deva Stadium.
Liverpool XI: Vigouroux; Randall, Cleary, Jones, Maguire; Stewart, O’Hanlon (Lussey 69′); Wilson (Smith 83′), Brannagan (c), Canos (Trickett-Smith 87′); Sinclair.
Chelsea XI: Blackman; Dabo, Christensen, Tomori (Kiwomya 73′), Aina; Colkett, Houghton (c); Brown, Palmer (Abraham 59′), Musonda; Solanke.