The young Blues headed into tonight’s game 17 points behind Neil Critchley’s Liverpool U23s who sit atop the Premier League 2 table. Simon Davies’ side was looking to bounce back from a miserable December losing 3-2 and 0-1 to Chelsea and Arsenal respectively in the Premier League 2 as well as being dumped out of the FA Youth Cup at the hands of Plymouth Argyle, a crushing 6-5 defeat on penalties.
Manchester City: Anderson, Oliver, Latibeaudiere, Francis, Davenport (c), Smith, Matondo, T. Dele-Bashiru, Gonzalez, Dilrosun, Garre
Subs: Garcia, Sokol, Wood, F. Nmecha, Touaizi
Liverpool: Grabara, Parker, Juanma, Masterson, Johnston, Kane, Wilson, Alves, Brewster, Dhanda, Adekanye
Subs: Kelleher, T. Gomes, Millar, Jones
It would begin at a very leisurely pace for what would soon become an enthralling display of football. The first ten minutes produced nothing of note, Liverpool’s high press kept the Blues penned in for much of this period and managing to isolate wingers Rabbi Matondo and Javairo Dilrosun expertly. 13 minutes gone and Liverpool opened the scoring through a Harry Wilson penalty, Joel Latibeaudiere’s last-ditch tackle was poorly timed and left referee Peter Gibbons with no choice but to point to the spot.
It would only take five minutes for City to reply, an incisive pass from Tom Dele-Bashiru split the Liverpool backline and put Lorenzo Gonzalez one on one with Kamil Grabara, leaving Gonzalez to slot home with ease.
The joy of the equaliser was short lived after Benjamin Garre was forced off after an accidental collision with Yan Dhanda, Garre appearing to twist his knee as he went down who immediately signalled for medical attention and had to be removed via stretcher, Felix Nmecha his replacement with 28 minutes gone.
Rabbi Matondo would fire the Blues into the lead as the board for eight minutes added time was raised, the Welshman burst down the left flank, evading right back Mich’el Parker with a stepover, then eyed up Grabara’s far post and drilled home, Parker would be replaced seconds afterwards by Curtis Jones after picking up an ankle injury as a result of Matondo’s trickery.
Rhian Brewster very nearly grabbed the equaliser for the Reds, his shot, however, striking the base of Anderson’s post. Liverpool were then forced into a second change after Brewster landed very awkwardly following a jump and a second stretcher was required to assist the England U17 star, Liam Millar replacing him. Following 15 minutes of extra time, an electric first half drew to a close.
City found themselves on the back foot for much of the opening of the second half with Liverpool reinstating the high press that had worked for them so well in the opening minutes of the first half. The Blues, however, managing to limit most of Liverpool’s efforts to shots from long range.
Nabil Touaizi entered the fray at the expense of Lorenzo Gonzalez who provided City’s equaliser and enjoyed a productive 70 minutes as City’s lone striker.
Despite Liverpool’s dominance, it would be City who would find the next goal. A rare breakout following a good spell of Liverpool pressure saw Dilrosun’s cross met by Felix Nmecha, striking it on the half volley it flew past Grabara leaving the game beyond doubt. Liverpool’s third and final substitution saw Toni Gomes replace Yan Dhanda with ten minutes to go.
As the game neared its conclusion Toni Gomes would have his say in the goals department as the board for additional time was raised. Millar’s cross would find Gomes at the back post who rifled his shot into the roof of Anderson’s net. Rabbi Matondo would make way for City’s final substitution as Marcus Wood took his place. Despite Liverpool’s ferocity, the Blues stood firm to see the game out and secure all three points.
Despite this encounter being punctuated by serious injuries, tonight’s victory will provide a massive boost as the Blues will look to give a better account of themselves following a disappointing end to 2017.