By Scott Taylor

Phillipe Coutinho and Emre Can played their first game of the 2015/16 season, but Liverpool U21s suffered a 2-0 defeat against Porto ‘B’ in the Park Steel Cup at Corby Town on Sunday afternoon.

Coutinho was involved in the Copa America with Brazil whilst Can was away with the Germany U21 side in the European Championships as both missed the first team tour of Australia and the Far East.

The midfield duo played 45 minutes for the Reds to improve their match fitness, but couldn’t prevent the young starlets losing to an organised Porto side.

After drawing 3-3 with the overall Champions PSV Eindhoven, Michael Beale’s side were looking to get back to winning ways against the Portuguese side. The game got off to bad start as Ndubisi Agu gave Porto the lead after reacting quickest from a corner.

Ivo Rodrigues then doubled the visitors lead after Corey Whelan handled the ball in the penalty box and the Porto man made no mistake from 12 yards, slotting it past Vigouroux.

The young Reds ended the tournament with a point after a Samed Yesil double and a Jack Dunn goal helped their side earn a point against PSV the day before.

After the game, Liverpool manager Beale was full of praise for the first-team players in his squad. He told liverpoolfc.com: “It was fantastic to have Coutinho and Can with us and they did really well in the planned 45 minute outing. Their attitude was absolutely fantastic and they were brilliant in the dressing room as well with our young lads. It was exciting for the supporters at Corby Town to see players of the calibre of Coutinho and Can in action, and I’ve been lucky to work with them in training this week.”

Liverpool XI: Vigouroux; McLaughlin (Virtue 65’), Paez (Polgar 65’), Whelan (Brewitt 45’), Hart; Can (Randall 45’), Brannagan (O’Hanlon 65’), Coutinho (Phillips 45’); Dunn (Madger Gomes 65’), Yesil (Sinclair 45’), Canos (Marsh 65’).

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