By Scott Taylor
Ryan Kent scored but Liverpool U21s began their post-season tour of the USA with a narrow 2-1 defeat against Sacramento Republic on Sunday morning.
Agustin Cazarez gave the USL third division side the lead in the 30th minute, before Kent levelled proceedings in the 75th minute at Bonney Field.
However, with just five minutes left, James Kiffe’s individual effort sealed a memorable victory for Sacramento FC, who gave a debut to former Liverpool midfielder Daniel Trickett-Smith.
After a lacklustre start to the game, Sacramento opened the scoring on the half-hour mark. Danny Barrera’s attempted shot was deflected off Madger Gomes and knocked down by Harry Williams for Cazarez to poke into the top corner for his first goal of the 2016 season.
Carlos Rodriguez almost ambitiously chipped Lawrence Vigouroux in the 44th minute, but the Chilean goalkeeper, who was playing his first 90 minutes since March, recovered on the goal line.
Liverpool responded brightly in the second half, with Madger Gomes forcing a smart save off Dominik Jakubek eight minutes after the interval.
Despite this, the home side recovered with Vigouroux making two more good saves to keep the scores level as the game passed the hour mark in California.
These saves proved to be crucial as Michael Beale’s fresh side equalised with 15 minutes to go. The Liverpool U21 Head Coach made six changes in the 65th minute with Cameron Brannagan and Herbie Kane coming on.
Kane then made an instant impact as he was part of a one-two with Kent, who slotted the ball under Jakubek for a deserved equaliser.
In the 78th minute, Liverpool’s American forward Brooks Lennon dragged his shot wide before Trickett-Smith was denied by a superb one-handed save by Vigouroux as the end-to-end nature of the game continued.
However, in the 86th minute, Kiffe won it for Sacramento Republic, blasting a low effort beyond Vigouroux and into the far corner to seal a memorable victory for the USL side.
Liverpool will play their next game of their post-season tour with a re-match against Sacramento Republic on 25 May.
Liverpool XI: Vigouroux; Whelan (Randall 65′), Brewitt (Maguire 65′), Jones, Hart; Virtue (Stewart 65′), Phillips (Kane 65′); Canos (T. Gomes 65′), M. Gomes (Brannagan 65′), Lenoon (Brimmer 79′), Kent.
Sacramento Republic XI: Jakubek; Rodriguez (Rivas 45′), Christian, Foran, Kiffe; Koval (Stewart 45′), Cazarez, Barrera (Motagalvan 45′), Guzman; Williams (Trickett-Smith 45′), Iwasa (Alvarez 64′).