Liverpool U23s kept their hopes of claiming the Premier League 2 title alive with a 3-1 win over rivals Everton in Southport on Monday evening.

Dominic Solanke opened the scoring from the spot for the Reds, who doubled their advantage shortly after when Lewis Gibson inadvertently put through his own net.

Nathaniel Phillips then effectively confirmed a hard-fought victory in the second half as he turned the ball home from close range following a scramble at a corner, though there was still time for Bassala Sambou to net a consolation on the break.

Neil Critchley's team must now beat Chelsea at home in their final league fixture of the season and hope that Arsenal falter against West Ham United in order to clinch the crown.

The U23s were boosted by the presence of three first-team squad regulars in Solanke, Danny Ward and Ben Woodburn, all of whom started as part of a strong-looking spine.

But, with revenge for a 4-0 derby defeat earlier in the season on offer, Everton came out of the blocks quickly, and were close to opening the scoring after just three minutes.

Josh Bowler's left-footed effort from distance appeared to lack pace but it was just inches out in terms of accuracy, with Ward relieved to see it come back off the post after evading his despairing dive.

Nathan Broadhead threatened with a deflected free-kick soon after and, when Fraser Hornby headed a corner straight at Ward, it seemed just a matter of time until the hosts took the lead.

However, immediately after almost scoring, Hornby was involved in another aerial challenge at the opposite end of the pitch that handed Liverpool the chance to go ahead.

The striker clearly impeded Conor Masterson from Adam Lewis' free-kick delivery and, after the referee pointed to the spot, Solanke did the honours with the minimum of fuss.

Highlights: The best of the action from the mini-derby

Then, just four minutes later, and despite having played little football on a slow pitch, the Reds were two up.

Lewis' ball in behind gave Rafa Camacho space inside the box before the winger's low cross cannoned in off Gibson, much to the delight of the visiting bench.

The hosts regained their composure to threaten again as the half wore on, but Ward did well to deny Bowler before crowding out David Henen after a ball over the top bounced dangerously.

Bowler and Ward were again involved in the first chance of the second period, with the Everton man driving from deep and drawing a strong save from his Liverpool counterpart.

But after a scrappy passage of play up to the hour mark, the end of which was marked by a melee that saw Solanke and Hornby booked, the Reds began to take control.

Great work from George Johnston in the area almost allowed the visitors to make it three through Solanke, only for the striker's finish to be cleared off the line.

But there was no denying Phillips after Everton failed to clear a corner kick, the centre-back doing well to flick a shot past a mass of defenders on the line.

Solanke went close to making it four with an arrowed effort from distance as time ebbed away, but it would be Everton who struck the final blow, Sambou doing well to take in a ball over the top and poke an effort home.

Liverpool: Ward, Whelan, Johnston, Phillips, Masterson, Kane, Camacho (Millar, 84), Lewis, Solanke, Jones, Woodburn (Adekanye, 72). 

Unused subs: George, Gallacher, N. Williams.