Liverpool U21s turned in a capable display to ease past Aston Villa with a 2-0 victory at Langtree Park on Monday night.
Samed Yesil and Michael Ngoo weighed in with the goals as Alex Inglethorpe's side impressed in their first league encounter for over a month.
There was a balance to this young Reds side, especially during the first half - and it allowed them to dominate the game and strike twice before the interval.
Ngoo and Yesil threatened up front while behind them, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Cameron Brannagan schemed in possession, prying apart the Villa defence with precise passing.
Jordan Rossiter and Jordan Lussey pulled the strings and provided protection in front of the back-four as Brad Smith and Connor Randall flew down either flank.
Rossiter's wonderfully incisive pass created the first chance of the game after minutes of play, releasing Yesil into space. He crossed for Ngoo, but the striker's header was straight at Bradley Watkins.
At the other end, Andras Stieber's emphatic drive sent Danny Ward sprawling away to his right to palm over the bar.
The sides then traded blows to no effect. Teixeira stepped away from a rash challenge and hammered high and wide, before Callum Robinson curled off target from the edge of the box.
However, Liverpool took the lead on 25 minutes. Teixeira was the creator, slaloming forward with his fine close-control, before spotting Yesil in space and sliding the ball to his feet. The German U21 international drew Watkins before clipping it past him and into the net via a Villa defender.
The Reds almost doubled their advantage minutes later, but Ngoo was unable to turn home Yesil's cross after free-flowing approach play from Teixeira and Brannagan.
The tall forward made amends when Smith executed a stunning turn to guide the ball away from his man and cross into the middle for Ngoo, who rose well to power a header home.
While the Reds looked assured throughout the first half, Villa flew out of the blocks after the restart and should have equalised when Robinson rose acrobatically to hook the ball over from inside the six-yard box.
Michael Drennan's swerving shot almost wrong-footed Ward moments later, but the 'keeper recovered to beat the ball away before Stieber sent a dipping right-footed strike inches wide of his left post.
Inglethorpe's side managed to stem the flow of the Villa attack and retain their earlier composure on the ball heading into the final half hour of the game.
Cameron Brannagan in action
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They almost clinched a third when Teixeira looped a delicate pass into the path of Smith, who raced clear through the middle; however, Janoi Donacien was there with a superb last-ditch tackle to deny him.
Rossiter might have netted in the 89th minute after more dynamic play from Smith, but the young Scouser nodded over from close range and the game ended 2-0.