Steven Gerrard spoke of his pride after watching his Liverpool U18s side earn a 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday morning, despite playing a large portion of the game with 10 men.
D’Mani Mellor had fired United into an early lead at a snowy Cliff and, after young Reds captain Adam Lewis was sent off for two bookable offences, a real test of character was on the cards for Gerrard's team.
But Liam Millar fired his 13th goal of the season to level and the Canada youth international then set up Glen McAuley to make it 2-1 on the hour.
In a frantic finale, Liverpool had some glorious chances to finish the game off only for United substitute Arnau Puigmal to pounce in the fourth minute of stoppage time to grab a share of the spoils.
The young Reds remain undefeated this season, though, and post-match Gerrard told Liverpoolfc.com: “I’m very proud. Obviously to go a goal down against Manchester United and have 10 men it’s a very difficult task, it’s a mountain to climb, but to be fair to my players they gave their best and tried to climb it - and in the end they did.
“Unfortunately we just couldn’t see the day out but I thought it was a terrific game of football played in the right way by two good teams, but from the 20th minute onwards I can’t be more proud of the players.”
Gerrard made a tactical switch in the first half when he brought on striker McAuley in place of Rafael Camacho.
Explaining the reason for the change, he added: “I wasn’t happy with the team in general and we were second best. Manchester United were getting to the first and second balls first and they were taking control.
“I needed to do something to give the team a reaction and give the team a wake-up call and I thought Glen did that for us.
“He ran himself into the ground and he can be proud of himself and so can all of the team, but from the start of the game through to 20 minutes we were nowhere near good enough and Manchester United were the better team.
“It’s not easy when you lose your captain and go down to 10 players against a good team but every single one of them rolled their sleeves up and fought for every ball. We came alive and we turned up after 20 minutes and felt like we deserved our 2-1 lead.
LFCTV GO: Watch highlights from the 2-2 draw
“Obviously we had to defend and be compact and play a little bit on the counter-attack but I don’t think anyone on their side can have any complaints about us going 2-1 up.
“We had chances at 2-1 to put the game to bed but Manchester United, to be fair, put us under a lot of pressure in the second half.
“In general, over the whole course of the game it’s probably a fair result, but it is the first time I’ve seen United celebrate a draw so I’m really pleased with that.”