By Scott Taylor
Nathan Phillips scored the decisive penalty as Liverpool U23s qualified for the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup on Sunday with a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Hull City, after the inital tie finished 2-2.
Ben Hinchliffe put the hosts ahead in the 19th minute before stand-in captain Matty Virtue levelled for Liverpool in the 48th minute, and the game went to extra-time.
Toni Gomes fired the young Reds back in front in the 96th minute, but Luke Lofts equalised six minutes later to send the game to penalties, which Liverpool edged out.
Head Coach Mike Garrity made four changes from the side that beat Chelsea on Monday evening, with Corey Whelan, Phillips and Toni Gomes given rare starts.
There was also a start for Yan Dhanda, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Wilson with the first-team and Rhian Brewster away on international duty with England U17s.
Liverpool started brighter as Connor Randall saw his shot deflect wide before Sheyi Ojo smashed the post from the resulting corner before firing behind moments later.
However, it was Hull who took the lead in the 19th minute with their first chance of the game.
Jarrod Bowen’s shot was only parried by Caoimhin Kelleher and the ball invitingly for Hinchliffe to fire in the rebound.
This proved to be a turning point in the game at Bishop Burton, as Hinchliffe was inches away from a second and Kelleher had to be alert to deny Greg Olley’s free-kick.
The visitors composed themselves at the break, and were back in the tie three minutes into the second, with Dhanda curling a cross into the danger area, and Virtue timed his run perfectly to poke home.
Both sides had chances in the pouring rain, with Gomes initially going close before Ojo was denied by Charlie Andrew in the Hull City goal.
The goalkeeper was then called into action moments later, with a good save to deny Marko Grujic before a goal-line scramble was cleared by the Tigers.
The hosts responded with Johan Ter Horst shooting directly at Kelleher before Olley’s effort from the last kick of the game was heroicly blocked by the Liverpool defence.
Liverpool drew first blood in extra-time with Ojo crossing for Gomes to clinically put his side ahead six minutes into the first half.
However, the Reds weren’t ahead for long when Olley played in substitute Lofts, who run beyond the defence and converted with ease in the 99th minute.
Liverpool survived a scare late on when Lofts almost had his second but he smashed the outside of the post as the game went to penalties.
Kevin Stewart put Liverpool ahead before Kelleher saved Will Annan’s spot-kick. Madger Gomes, Toni Gomes and Joe Gomez all held their nerve to put Liverpool 4-3 ahead with Hull also scoring three penalties.
Ojo then wasted a chance to win it as he fired over the crossbar but in sudden death, Brad Maslen-Jones also blasted over for Hull to send Liverpool into the quarter-finals.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Whelan, Phillips, Gomez, Randall; Stewart, Virtue; Dhanda (M Gomes 65′), Grujic (Alves 105′), Ojo; T Gomes.