By Scott Taylor
Ben Woodburn scored his first goals at U23 level as Liverpool earned their first points of the season with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Woodburn put Michael Beale’s side ahead in the 13th minute, tapping home from back from captain Harry Wilson before netting his and Liverpool’s second shortly before the interval. Chuba Akpom reduced the deficit in the 67th minute, but striker Toni Gomes restored the Reds’ two-goal lead with his maiden U23s goal and rounded off a memorable night at the Emirates.
Liverpool named a strong side with Lucas Leiva and Andre Wisom named in the starting line-up alongside first-team fringe players Trent Alexander-Arnold and Cameron Brannagan.
Beale’s side started the better of the two sides in North London, with Wilson and Alexander-Arnold both having early efforts but neither were threatening.
It was the experienced Lucas who was heavily involved in the Reds opener. The Brazilian’s through-ball was dummied by Gomes and Wilson ran onto it before squaring for Woodburn to open his account for the U23s.
Arsenal responded courtesy of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Krystian Bielik, but Irish goalkeeper Kelleher did well to keep his clean sheet intact.
The Reds had more chances to extend their lead with Brannagan testing Matt Macey before Wilson went inches away from scoring his sixth goal of the season.
In previous games where Liverpool were left to rue their chances, they made sure that would not happen as Gomes set up his strike partner Woodburn, and he curled a 20-yard effort into the top corner.
Arsenal grew back into the game and their persistence was eventually rewarded by Akpom, with the striker firing home off the crossbar with Kelleher beaten.
Liverpool made sure that there were no late nerves with a third goal four minutes later. Brannagan’s corner was headed into the danger area by Joe Maguire and Arsenal ‘keeper Macey failed to claim the ball and the ball fell to Gomes who turned the ball into an empty net to restore their dominance.
Liverpool move up to ninth in the Premier League 2 table, and will look to claim back-to-back wins when they host 11th placed Leicester, who have failed to win a game all season.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Wisdom, Lucas (Maguire 46’), Randall; Williams, Brannagan; Wilson, Ejaria (Lennon 90’), Woodburn; Gomes (Phillips 86’).
Arsenal U23s: Macey; Maitland-Niles (Dasilva 75’), Bielik, Pileas, Da Graca; Bennacer (Johnson 67’), Reine-Adelaide (Mavididi 67’); Sheaf, Willock, Dragomir; Akpom.