By Scott Taylor
Ryan Kent scored a goal and an assist as Liverpool U21s came from behind to beat Norwich 2-1 in their penultimate game of the season at the Kirkby Academy on Monday afternoon.
Glenn Middleton gave the Canaries the lead in the 18th minute as they had to win to secure their Premier League status, before Kent equalised five minutes later. Kent then turned provider for Lloyd Jones to head home from close-range in the 79th minute to win it for Michael Beale’s side.
The Liverpool U21 Head Coach fielded a mix of youth and experience, with Joao Carlos Teixeira, Jon Flanagan and Adam Bogdan in the starting line-up.
Jerome Sinclair missed out through injury and was replaced by Brooks Lennon, whilst U18 midfielder Ovie Ejaria made his debut, and Matty Virtue returned to the bench.
Norwich started the game on the front foot, and a neat exchange of passes almost gave them an opening, but Joe Maguire’s last-ditch challenge denied Louis McIntosh.
The visitors made their pressure count, and took the lead midway through the first half. Poor defending from the Reds resulted in the ball falling straight to Middleton, and the midfielder blasted a long-range effort past Bogdan and into the bottom corner.
However, Norwich’s lead only last five minutes. In the 23rd minute, Maguire won the ball with another crunching tackle before finding Teixeira.
The Portguese playmaker then fed it to Ejaria on the by-line, and he cut inside the full-back and played it across goal for Kent to fire his left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
Teixeira went close to completing a turnaround when his shot was deflected onto the crossbar by Norwich goalkeeper Aston Oxborough as the half ended all square.
Liverpool were much the better side in the second half. Former Arsenal youngster Ejaria put an inviting ball into the box but Oxborough palmed it away just as Brooks Lennon was looking to pounce.
Substitute Cameron Brannagan had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee after he collided with Norwich midfielder Ebou Adams inside the penalty area.
The Reds’ pressure eventually told when Kent chased down an overhit Teixeira corner, and won the ball off the Norwich defending trying to shield it out of play. The winger then whipped in an inviting cross for captain Jones to power home his second in as many games for Liverpool.
Liverpool finished their final home game of the season on a positive note, and finish the season away at Manchester City with the date yet to be confirmed.
Liverpool XI: Bogdan; Flanagan (McLaughlin 45′), Ilori (Hart 53′), Jones, Maguire; Chirivella (Brannagan 45′), Gomes; Kent, Ejaria, Texeira; Lennon.