Amidst a run of 15 games in 50 matches, Liverpool fielded their youngest ever team in the League Cup quarter-finals against Aston Villa. However, Villa didn’t miss the golden chance to enter their first semifinal in five seasons. In fact, they ran riot with a 5-0 win over the European champions.
Liverpool went out with not only a stand-in team but also a stand-in manager in U-23s manager Neil Critchley. The Reds started out brightly, but it only took 14 minutes for Villa to breach their young defence. As Conor Hourihane scored a brilliant free-kick to give Villa the lead. Hourihane’s goal was succeeded by an unlucky own goal by Morgan Boyes. With Jonathan Kodjia and Wesley, Aston Villa’s two strikers, scoring two and one goals respectively to finish off an impressive performance.
What it meant for Liverpool:
Nothing much, as they are already competing on various fronts including the Champions League and Premier League. The first teams are currently in Qatar for their Club World Cup semi-final fixture. Liverpool was represented by a team with an average of 19 years and 182 days.
Though this match turned out to be a great opportunity for their youngsters to showcase their talent. And so they did. Especially one of them, in Harvey Elliott, took his chance with both hands. The young Englishman was praised by the likes of Jamie Redknapp as the Liverpool legend was quoted saying, “Harvey Elliott – we were watching him and he’s 16 years of age. From minute one he was trying to get on the ball. He looked the real deal.”
What it meant for Aston Villa:
A berth in the League Cup semi-finals. Pretty much that, as their chances to go on to win the competition is bleak. With tougher opponents to face in the upcoming rounds. Though it was a decent performance by the Villains which was uplifted by their gestures towards the young Liverpool side. After half time they decided to let loose on the youngsters, not to make it embarrassing for them. While their head coach, Dean Smith and assistant coach, John Terry were also generous. As they made their way towards the Liverpool dressing room to congratulate the youngsters.