By Scott Taylor
Jerome Sinclair scored a brace but it couldn’t prevent Liverpool U21s suffering another defeat as they lost 4-2 to Chelsea at Aldershot Town. The Reds were competing in the International U21 Cup for the first time after featuring in the UEFA Youth League last season instead. Sinclair’s double was cancelled out by a hat-trick from Kasey Palmer as Liverpool are still searching for their first competitive win of the season.
Chelsea drew first blood after six minutes, with John Swift providing the clinical finish past Andy Firth. His long-range strike curled in off the crossbar with Firth having no chance of keeping it out. However, the home side weren’t ahead for long, as in the 18th minute, Sinclair capitalised on a mistake from the Chelsea defence to equalise. A long ball bounced over the head of Ola Aina and Sinclair raced along to finish past James Russell. The striker, who did have contract issues at the start of the season, completed the turnaround in the 35th minute. Jack Dunn picked out Alex O’Hanlon at the far post, before the Irishman found Sinclair with a first-time volley. The former West Brom striker then headed home from close range to make put the Reds ahead.
Michael Beale’s side were then forced to make a change when Dunn pulled up with a hamstring injury, and was replaced by U18s midfielder Matthew Virtue. The Reds looked to have missed the absence of Dunn’s attacking flair after he went off, but Liverpool held on to a 2-1 lead until half-time.
However, in the 50th minute, Chelsea equalised with a fine individual effort from Kasey Palmer, who produced a skillful run and finish to grab his first goal of the night. He then put his side ahead for the second time in the match in the 62nd minute, as he rose highest from a Swift cross to head beyong the reach of Firth.
Three minutes later, it was 4-2. Palmer rounded off a 15-minute hat-trick with a free-kick that deflected in off Pedro Chirivella. Liverpool almost set-up a nervy finish in the closing stages of the game, but Virtue’s effort smashed off the crossbar and was cleared by the Chelsea defence.
Liverpool U21s will still be looking to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament, as they are still to face Celtic and Benfica in Group A. They will also be looking to taste victory for the first time in a competitive match this season when they face Norwich City at Carrow Road on Monday night.
Liverpool U21s: Firth; Randall, Cleary, Brewitt, Whelan; Chirivella (Marsh 82′), O’Hanlon; Madger Gomes, Brannagan, Dunn (Virtue 44′); Sinclair.
Chelsea U21s: Russell; Dabo, Aina, Conroy, Wright; Ali, Mitchell, Swift, Kiwomya (Abraham 67′); Palmer (Quintero 82′), Musonda.
By Scott Taylor