Liverpool's youngest-ever side were dealt a harsh lesson against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday, falling 5-0 at Villa Park. Despite starting well and playing the neater football of the two teams, the Reds were picked off by a clinical Villa side.
Conor Hourihane broke the deadlock when his speculative free kick sneaked past Caoimhin Kelleher at the 21-year-old's far post inside the opening 10 minutes. Kelleher was unlucky once more when he saw Ahmed Elmohamady's cross deflect off the leg of Morgan Boyes to loop over his head as Villa doubled their advantage. The clinical Jonathan Kodjia then added two more Villa goals before the break to put the game beyond doubt.
Liverpool didn't give up and continued to impress in the second half, but ultimately they were made to pay for their lack of experience at this level. Substitute Wesley rounded off a fine night for the home side with his first goal in 10 games.
Liverpool looked superb in the opening exchanges and manager Neil Critchley can be proud of the way his side played overall. They looked dangerous going forward and regrouped well after going two goals down. With five players making their debuts and the team including just 16 first-team appearances between them, this will serve as excellent experience. Herbie Kane and Harvey Elliott both impressed in particular.
The Reds were porous in defence. The first two goals were as sloppy as they were unfortunate, while the defence was carved open far too easily for the third and fourth goals.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Fielding a side with an average age of 19, there was no pressure on Critchley. He can be proud of his side's efforts and footballing performance, and he'll no doubt be keen to see them learn from the experience.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Caoimhin Kelleher, 6 -- The youngster will feel hard done by. He'll be disappointed not to have got his hands to the first, a speculative cross-shot, though Kodjia's outstretched boot undoubtedly distracted him. The second was even more unfortunate, a deflected cross from Elmohamady that looped into his far corner. And though he was always quick off his line when required, he could do little about the third and fourth goals. He did however save well from Khodjia to deny the Villa striker on the hour mark, and again from Trezeguet on 70 minutes.
DF Ki-Jana Hoever, 5 -- The Dutch youth international started the game with a nervy under-hit backpass that put Kelleher under unnecessary pressure, but he grew into the game and showed great awareness to clean up loose balls. Soldiered on despite suffering from cramp towards the end.
DF Sepp van den Berg, 5 -- Looked solid in parts but wasteful in possession in others. The central partnership of Van den Berg and Hoever was given a challenging evening from the clinical Kodjia.
DF Morgan Boyes, 5 -- Comfortable in possession and was unfortunate to see Elmohamady's cross deflect off his leg and into his own goal. The Welshman is clearly promising on the ball but will need to work on his awareness and positioning.
DF Tony Gallacher, 5 -- The Scot liked to advance with the ball, and he showed good confidence with it at his feet in his own half. However, like his fellow defenders, he was punished when it mattered. Sometimes lost his man following balls played into the channels.
MF Isaac Christie Davies, 5 -- Showed some neat touches on the ball and was extremely busy getting forward to support the front three while also getting back to protect the back four. The youngster was booked for what was the first heavy challenge of the game, and he later came off injured.
MF Pedro Chirivella, 4 -- The Spaniard was probably the least effective of the Liverpool midfielders, though it wasn't for the lack of effort and guile.
MF Herbie Kane, 7 -- The pick of the bunch, Kane was central to everything and had a number of goal-scoring opportunities. In the first half he was twice thwarted by Orjan Nyland and again in the second, once from point-blank range. He conceded the free kick that led to the opening goal.
MF Harvey Elliott, 6 -- A lively presence, Elliott forced the first save of the evening. He broke into the Villa box and shot with his left foot as the defence dropped away from him, but his fierce effort was well saved. Displayed a range of neat touches and flicks.
MF Thomas Hill, 5 -- The box-to-box midfielder was busy and worked hard without really getting hold of the ball or making an impact on the game.
FW Luis Longstaff, 5 -- The front three worked tirelessly to put the Villa defence under pressure, and Longstaff led by example. He kept himself busy and linked well with his teammates, though he cut a lonely figure in attack at times. Was taken off in the second half.
MF Jack Bearne, 4 -- The 18-year-old is in his third season at Liverpool and will no doubt get more opportunities, but he found it hard to make an impact after coming on with 35 minutes left on the clock.
MF Leighton Clarkson, N/R -- Came on for the injured Christie Davies and had a header saved in the last 10 minutes.
DF James Norris, N/R -- Came on to replace the injured Hoever.