Cameron Brannagan scored his third goal in three games as Liverpool Under-21s ended their 2014/15 season with a 4-4 draw against ten-man Norwich at Anfield. Goals from Jordan Williams, Ryan Kent and the Reds captain Brannagan put the hosts 3-0 up at half-time. However, two goals from Josh Murphy and another from Carlton Morris saw the Canaries come back to level the game as Liverpool squandered their dominant position in the match. Sheyi Ojo then put Michael Beale’s side 4-3 up with a late penalty, but the drama didn’t end there. Murphy fired home from a tight angle to complete his hat-trick and equalise for the visitors.
Liverpool were positive from the outset. Harry Wilson’s free-kick went straight at the wall before Samed Yesil was inches away from getting on the end of an Ojo through-ball. However, Norwich responded moments later and should have gone ahead. Danny Ward, who was back in the side in place of Ryan Fulton, parried an effort straight to Morris, but the Norwich man somehow put his effort over the crossbar with an open goal gaping.
They would’ve rued the missed chance when Williams gave Liverpool the lead shortly after. Kent’s corner was met by Dan Cleary, who flicked it onto an unmarked Williams at the back post, and the former Notts County loanee made no mistake from close-range.
In the 25th minute, Liverpool doubled their lead in a well worked move. Wilson picked the ball up in the Norwich half and found Kent with a precise through ball. From there the England Under-18 winger smashed the ball home off the far post as Beale’s side started to take control of the match.
Ten minutes later, things went from bad to worse for Norwich, as Brannagan produced a moment of individual brilliance with a fine strike from 25 yards to put his side 3-0 up. The Liverpool captain has now scored in three consecutive games, and his chances of getting into the first team look set to improve.
Liverpool showed no sign of holding onto their lead after half-time. Wilson almost made it 4-0 when his effort took a deflection off a Norwich defender and went just wide. Despite the Liverpool pressure, it was Norwich who pulled a goal back in the 60th minute.
Murphy linking up well with his twin brother Jacob, and then after receiving a lofted pass over the Reds defence, the winger fired past Ward in emphatic fashion to give his side hope. The game got even more interesting when a deflection fell straight to Morris, who rolled the ball in from a few yards to set up a nervy last 25 minutes for the Reds.
The Norwich comeback was complete shortly after. Jacob Murphy saw his one-on-one effort saved by Ward, only for the ball to fall to Josh Murphy, who showed his sibling how it was done with a neat finish.
Incredibly, the action didn’t end there. Norwich had their tails up and looked most likely to go ahead, but Liverpool counter-attacked and won a penalty. Ojo rounded the Norwich ‘keeper and fired towards goal, only to be denied by the hand of Reece Hall-Johnson, who was shown a straight red card.
Ojo stepped up from 12 yards and got the goal he was wrongly denied as he fired home in front of the Kop to put Liverpool ahead. The goals still kept coming. Josh Murphy rounded off a fine individual performance when he slotted it past Ward from a tight angle to seal a point for the visiting Canaries.
The result means Liverpool remain in second in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, but with Chelsea and Manchester United still to play their remaining games, their final position is yet to be undecided.
Liverpool XI: Ward; Randall, Williams, Cleary, Maguire; Stewart, Brannagan; Wilson (O’Hanlon), Ojo, Kent; Yesil (Canos).
Norwich XI: Matthews; Hall-Johnson, Efete, Grant (King), McFadden; Crowe, Norman, McGrandles, Morris; Jacob Murphy, Josh Murphy.