By Scott Taylor
Liverpool U18s Premier League title hopes are all but over after they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in their last league fixture at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday afternoon. Manuel Garcia opened the scoring for the hosts in the 36th minute before Lukas Nmecha doubled the visitors’ advantage twenty minutes later.
The defeat leaves Neil Critchley’s side six points behind the leaders City with two games remaining, and with the visitors having three more games remaining, it is unlikely that Premier League success will be heading to Kirkby.
Liverpool Head Coach Critchley made two changes from the 5-1 win at Fulham in their previous encounter, with Kris Owens and Brooks Lennon coming in for Herbie Kane and Ovie Ejaria.
Manchester City started the game on the front foot, but both teams struggled to create opportunities. Given that there has been 117 goals between the two sides prior to kick-off, it was surprising that neither side went close in the opening exchanges.
However, the inevitable goal came for the visitors nine minutes before half-time. Reds goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher cleared the ball straight to Man City winger Brahim Diaz, who played in Garcia and the Spaniard cooly converted.
The league leaders had two great chances created by Nmecha to double their lead before half-time, but first a resilient Liverpool defence and then the post denied him.
Critchley brought on the in-form Kane and switched captain Trent Alexander-Arnold to his more natural right-back position at half-time. Despite this, the hosts continued to struggle to gain a foothold in the game, with Aaron Nemane going close.
Nmecha did get a deserved goal to put his side 2-0 just 11 minutes after the interval, when he finished beyond Kelleher with Diaz earning his second assist of the match.
When Liverpool did create opportunities through American Brooks Lennon, his team-mates did not support as many balls went into the box without reward. The defeat sees
Liverpool stay in fourth in the play-offs, and travel to bottom side West Ham, who have drawn three of their opening four games.
Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Lewis, Parker, Whelan, Owens (Kane 45′); Coyle, Phillips; Alexander-Arnold, Woodburn, Lennon; Gomes.