Jerome Sinclair ensured Liverpool's U18s kicked off their calendar year with a victory, scoring twice as the young Reds downed Middlesbrough 3-0 on Saturday.

The 17-year-old found the target either side of half-time to provide the highlights of a hugely impressive performance by Neil Critchley's side in their maiden outing of 2014.

After joining the action from the bench in the second half, Daniel Cleary added a third goal during the closing seconds of the clash to round off a handsome result.

When Sheyi Ojo was felled at full pace just outside the Middlesbrough area on 11 minutes, Daniel Trickett-Smith stepped up to shape an attempt from the set-piece, but the strike was blocked by the wall.

Critchley's charges suffered a blow shortly before the quarter-hour when defensive midfielder Pedro Chirivella was forced to leave the field with an injury following an earlier heavy challenge.

Midway through the opening period, home goalkeeper Ryan Crump was required to make a reaction stop to deny Thomas McAloon, before the hosts were left baffled by a refereeing decision.

Trickett-Smith fed Sinclair with an accurate through ball into the left channel, with space to take advantage of - only for Matthew Wyke to clearly trip the striker without punishment from the officials.

Harry Wilson curled home a sublime free-kick in the reverse fixture during the first half of the season and the Welsh youngster was inches away from repeating the trick when he sent a set-piece from 20 yards onto the crossbar after 37 minutes.

A lead was secured two minutes later, though, as Wilson whipped an outstanding cross into the Middlesbrough six-yard box for Sinclair to meet at the near post with a header down into the bottom corner.

Watch the video here »

Liverpool started the second half intent on extending their advantage and Trickett-Smith brought a strong save out of Joseph Fryer with a driven effort from a central position two minutes after the restart.

The woodwork was rattling again when the creative midfielder spotted an opportunity to smash a dropping ball on the volley from around 40 yards and almost perfectly executed his attempt.

Nevertheless, it was 2-0 to the young Reds on the hour as Sinclair and Wilson combined for a second time - the former latched onto an assist in behind and coolly converted into the back of the net with a side-footer.

Watch the video here »

Wilson then collected possession and immediately launched a long dribble towards goal, slaloming in and around challenges by the away team, but his concluding curler was too close to Fryer between the posts.

A layer of icing was added to the cake in the final minute of the encounter, when a well-worked corner presented substitute Cleary with a chance to bury a finish from inside the box.

Critchley and his players can now switch their focus to the continuation of their FA Youth Cup challenge next week - with a home clash against Aston Villa next on their agenda.

U18s team: Crump, Randall (Cleary), Maguire, Williams, Brewitt, Chirivella (Marsh), Wilson, O'Hanlon, Sinclair (Kent), Trickett-Smith, Ojo.