By Scott Taylor
Brooks Lennon scored his fourth goal of the season, but Liverpool U23s began their Premier League International Cup campaign with a 2-1 defeat at home to Wolfsburg on Wednesday evening. Josip Brekalo pounced on a loose ball to give the visitors the lead before Lennon equalised with nine minutes left on the clock as the Reds searched for their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions. However, moments after Mamadou Sakho headed wide, Hendrik Hansen headed the right side of the net to give his side the victory at the death.
Liverpool Head Coach Michael Beale made six changes from the side that convincingly beat Sunderland 3-0, with Sakho the notable star on the team sheet as he steps up his recovery.
After a cautious opening 20 minutes where the sides were sparring, the first punch was landed by the visitors, but Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral’s shot was easily saved by Caoimhin Kelleher.
However, the Reds responded well with Cameron Brannagan and Matty Virtue, two of the changes from the last game, both went close but to no avail.
Pedro Chirivella was inches away from making a breakthrough, but his free-kick went skimmed the top of the crossbar before Sebastien Wimmer tested Kelleher from a dead ball situation moments later.
Beale’s side created numerous opportunities in the half, with Harry Wilson, Toni Gomes causing problems before Brannagan somehow fired wide much to his disbelief.
Liverpool were left to rue there missed chances as Wolfsburg took the lead in the 51st minute. Kelleher could only palm away Donkor’s shot, but Brekalo was the first player to pounce on the loose ball to put his side ahead.
Real Madrid loanee Mayoral then went close as the Bundesliga side started to assert their dominance, so Beale brought on both Lennon and Adam Phillips.
Those substitutions proved to be a turning point in the game, as the American caused problems from the moment he came on, creating a chance before having a goal ruled out for offside.
It was third time lucky for the substitute as he latched onto Woodburn’s through ball and drilled a low shot underneath the Wolfsburg ‘keeper to level the tie after he was subbed on for the eighth time this season.
Sakho, who was the 40th different player to be used by Michael Beale this season, then went inches away from a goal on his comeback from injury, but the ball sailed wide.
For the second time in the game, Liverpool were left to rue their missed chance as a short corner was played into Hansen, who rise highest to head home a dramatic late winner.
Beale’s side now turn their attentions to the Premier League Cup when they travel to Ipswich on Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher, Randall, Maguire, Ilori, Sakho, Virtue (Phillips), Wilson, Chirivella, T Gomes (Lennon), Brannagan, Woodburn.