By Scott Taylor
Tammy Abraham’s injury-time winner condemned Liverpool U21s to a defeat in the first game of the U21 Premier League season at Langtree Park on Sunday afternoon. Both sides have had close encounters in the past, and this fixture was no different. Abraham ensured that continued with a clinical strike in the 92nd minute of the game to win it for the Blues.
Both sides were missing key members of their squads. Chelsea were missing some of their regulars from last season such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dominic Solanke and Lewis Baker whilst Liverpool were without midfielder Jordan Rossiter due to first-team duties.
Liverpool got off to a good start and the hosts almost opened the scoring inside five minutes. The Reds’ captain Cameron Brannagan’s long-range striker crashed off the crossbar before Jerome Sinclair fired over from the re-bound. Shortly after, Sergi Canos had a shot beaten away by Mitchell Beeney before Fikayo Tomori cleared just as Sinclair was looking to pounce.
Despite the early dominance from Liverpool, the visitors grew into the game as the half went on. Casey Palmer created the first opportunity for the Blues, but his shot was easily saved by Ryan Fulton. Alex Kiwomya, who scored in the FA Youth Cup tie at Anfield two years ago, headed wide as the momentum switched towards Chelsea.
Palmer then tried to score from distance, but his 45-yard effort went comfortably over the crossbar as he tried to replicate former Liverpool players Xabi Alonso and Charlie Adam. Both sides continued to have half chances, but the opening 45 minutes ended goalless.
Tomori was given a huge let off early in the second-half, as he headed Sergi Canos’ cross towards his own goal, but had his goalkeeper Beeney to thank as he clawed it away out for a corner. Charley Musonda went close shortly after a both sides exchanged chances but neither threatened an opener. Sinclair went close moments after with the best chance of the game. With less than 20 minutes to go, the striker out-muscled Tomori before firing a close-range shot wide when it looked like he was going to score. He then had another chance but just as he was about to pull the trigger, the Chelsea defence cleared it.
Connor Randall had a good chance in injury-time, but he squandered it and was punished by Chelsea, who went straight up the other end and scored the only goal of the game through Abraham. Michael Beale’s side next face Denmark U20s in a friendly on Thursday 13 August.
Liverpool XI: Fulton; Randall, Cleary, Brewitt, Maguire; Chirivella (Kent 68’), O’Hanlon; Canos (Dunn 73’), Brannagan, Wilson; Sinclair (Yesil 83’)
Chelsea XI: Beeney; Dabo, Clarke-Salter, Dasilva, Tomori; Scott (Wright 63’), Kiwomya (Conroy 87’); Musonda, Abraham, Palmer (Muheim 83’); Mitchell.