By Scott Taylor
Harry Wilson scored his tenth goal of the season as Liverpool U23s moved up to third in the Premier League 2 table with a 2-0 victory over Merseyside neighbours Everton. Brooks Lennon headed home his sixth goal in seven starts moments into the second half before Wilson continued his fine form in front of goal with a stinging half-volley from the edge of the area. Michael Beale’s side are now two points behind the league leaders Everton after the victory over their fierce rivals in the mini-Merseyside derby.
Beale made five changes from the 1-1 draw at Manchester United as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin Stewart, Danny Ings, Marko Grujic and Ovie Ejaria were all used in the first-team’s EFL Cup Round of 16 tie against Spurs.
Joe Maguire, Matthew Virtue, Cameron Brannagan, Ben Woodburn and Lennon returned to the starting line-up, and it was Lennon and Woodburn who were involved in the opening chance.
The pair linked up before captain Wilson curled a testing effort over the crossbar. The Welshman then forced Mateusz Hewelt into a save after a one-two with Brannagan.
Everton did have their chances in the first half as Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed wide before Gethin Jones should have tested Kamil Grabara in the 21st minute.
However, moments after the interval, it was the hosts Liverpool who took the lead as Maguire, returning to the line-up curled a cross in for Lennon to head past Hewelt as he continued to impress.
Everton responded in resurgent fashion, when Jonjo Kenny forced a good reaction save from Grabara as the Polish goalkeeper kept his side’s lead intact.
This save proved to be a turning point in the tie as Wilson doubled Liverpool’s lead midway through the second period. Pedro Chirivella’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with and the loose ball fell to Wilson, who slammed in his 10th goal in 15 starts as this phenomenal season carried on.
Brannagan was back in the starting line-up and looking to make his mark, and he did that on the Everton crossbar, as his stinging drive left it rattling as Liverpool pushed for a third.
Beale’s side kept just their fourth clean sheet of the season with the victory, and rise to third in the Premier League 2 table. They could leapfrog Everton on Friday if they beat second-placed Manchester City, who could also go top with a win of their own.
Liverpool XI: Grabara; Randall, Ilori, Sakho, Maguire; Virtue, Chirivella; Wilson, Brannagan, Woodburn; Lennon.