Liverpool’s U18s and U19s secured glory in their respective cup competitions, whilst the U23s suffered consecutive defeats in a disappointing week for them.
Curtis Jones scored and claimed an assist as Liverpool U19s rounded off a superb UEFA Youth League group stage campaign with a 2-0 victory over Spartak Moscow at Prenton Park.
Jones put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute before the midfielder’s corner was volleyed in by George Johnston at the far post, as the young Reds secured their fifth win in six games.
The win was slightly overshadowed by alleged racism, with Rhian Brewster said to have been abused by a Spartak Moscow player, less than three months after Bobby Adekanye received the same treatment from the Russian club’s fans. Liverpool have reported the incident to UEFA.
Despite this, Spartak’s punishment for the Adekanye incident was incredibly lenient, with the Russian outfit having to close part of their Academy Stadium by leaving 500 seats empty.
Liverpool U19s: Grabara; Camacho, Masterson, Johnston, Lewis; Clayton, Kane (Tagseth), Jones (Millar); Woodburn, Adekanye (Dixon-Bonner), Brewster.
After earning the praise of Gerrard, Adam Lewis came off the bench to net two goals for the U18s as they qualified for the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup with a 3-2 win over Sunderland.
Lee Connelly put the Black Cats ahead at the Kirkby Academy, but Lewis and Rafael Camacho completed the turnaround before Connelly equalised with his and Sunderland’s second.
Lewis then sealed the victory with a penalty in a thrilling game whilst Niall Brookwell made his debut after the Reds were missing a whole host of key personnel.
Liverpool U18s: Jaros; Sharif, Clayton, Glennon, Boyes (Lewis 45’); Dixon-Bonner, Tagseth, Jones; Longstaff (Brookwell 65’), Larouci, Camacho.
Gerrard has revealed that he gave his side a half-time rollicking in the game, and has said he wants his side to be competing in every competition in the New Year so his side must keep performing.
Elsewhere, Danny Ings scored twice but Liverpool U23s suffered their first Premier League Cup defeat of the season, after being edged out to Stoke City in a seven-goal thriller.
Julien Ngoy put Stoke ahead before Lloyd Jones equalised in a frantic opening ten minutes, but Tyrese Campbell and Oliver Shenton netted first-half goals to put the Potters in control.
Ings pulled a goal back minutes into the second half, but Dan Jarvis restored Stoke’s two-goal cushion. Despite Ings’ injury-time penalty, Neil Critchley’s side suffered back-to-back defeats in a disappointing week at Kirkby.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Whelan, Masterson (Juanma), Jones, Johnston (Dhanda); Kane, Brannagan, Ejaria (Alves); Wilson, Brewster, Ings.
After his recent performances, Ings is almost certain to be made available to go out on loan, with West Bromwich Albion interested in his signature, but he wants to get back into the first-team.
Ings: “Integrating back with the lads is what I’m striving for. I have had a tough patch but you can’t change that and hopefully I’m putting what I’ve developed into my game for the future.”
Harry Wilson missed a penalty and had several chances cleared off the line, but Liverpool are likely to decide his future in the next few weeks as the January transfer window approaches.
Neil Critchley: “Clubs have got to want him first and foremost, before he decides or we decide if it’s right for him to go out on loan. Then there’s the circumstances around the first-team and the manager has to have his say in that as well.”