Aston Villa’s Under 18 side were valiant in defeat against a strong Liverpool side littered with Champions League winners.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Villa Park hosted Liverpool for the second time this season, this time in the F.A Cup third round. Aston Villa’s side was much different to how it usually would look – with many of the first team squad stuck at home either isolating or recovering from COVID-19.
Mark Delaney’s Under 23 side would face Liverpool, with a few notable omissions due to their training with the senior squad, which were replaced by members of the Under 18 side.
Within three minutes, Liverpool had taken the lead as Mohammed Salah fired a cross into a central position that Sadio Mane rose the highest, squeezing between Mungo Bridge and Dominic Revan and to head past Onodi in the Villa net.
In the ninth a ball fell to Georginio Wijnaldum at the back post, unmarked, but the Netherlands international fired the ball over Onodi’s bar and out for a goal kick.
Wijnaldum would try his luck in the 20th minute too, firing an effort from outside the box – but Dominic Revan was wise to it and put in a block to ensure the ball was nowhere near Onodi’s net.
Onodi made a fantastic save to deny Fabinho, diving down towards his left – before Sadio Mane fired the rebound towards goal, with Onodi wise to it and somehow keeping it out at the near post. Shortly after, Louie Barry utilised his pace well and fired a ball into the box that forced Liverpool into conceding their first corner of the evening.
The game turned a little, with Aston Villa enjoying a little more joy (but not too much). Mo Salah forced Onodi into another strong save down to his left in the 34th minute, forcing a corner which eventually came to nothing.
Five minutes before half time and Aston Villa were back in the game. Louie Barry beat Liverpool’s offside trap, before riding the challenge from Williams and firing past Kelleher to level the score. Louie Barry is now Aston Villa’s youngest ever goalscorer, beating Andre Green by two years.
Onodi produced another fine save before the end of the half to ensure the two sides went in level at the break.
Liverpool would make the first change of the evening, replacing captain Jordan Henderson with summer signing Thiago.
Mohammed Salah thought he’d put the visitors ahead again as Onodi made a fine save deny him, before getting two hands on the spilled ball before Salah poked it into the net. It looked as if Salah was offside regardless.
Around the hour mark Liverpool upped the tempo and Aston Villa stopped their press, and it resulted in a goal. Minamino found Wijnaldum in space on the edge of the box, before the Dutchman sidefooted the ball into the bottom right, narrowly past Onodi.
Ben Chrisene was replaced by Brad Young just after the 60 minute mark – before Liverpool put the game further out of reach for Mark Delaney’s tiring side. Shaqiri, fresh off the bench, lofted a ball towards the back post – where Sadio Mande produced a looping header that caught Onodi off guard before nestling in the bottom corner.
A minute later, and Salah made it four, firing into the bottom right corner past Onodi. Shortly after, and Harrison Sohna replaced Raikhy, whilst Lindley replaced Lamare Bogarde.
The 74th minute mark saw young Dutchman Sil Swinkels, who was signed for the academy in the summer, replacing Jake Walker – who was recalled from his loan at Alvechurch just last night – and who had a spectacular performance up to this point. Teddy Rowe replaced Callum Rowe. Liverpool also made two changes, replacing Mane and Salah with Origi and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The game dropped into a lull for a while Liverpool continued to attack but couldn’t get efforts on goal.
A brilliant display from such young talents against a relatively strong Liverpool side full of Champions League winners.