Liverpool U18s' hopes of topping FA Premier Academy League Group C suffered a blow as they went down to a 4-0 defeat at leaders Everton on Tuesday afternoon.
Goals from Eric Dier, Hallam Hope and John Lundstram put the hosts into a commanding interval lead before Anton Forrester sealed the points with a close range finish late on.
It means the Reds are now six points adrift of the Toffees who have just one game remaining.
However, with two games in hand and a superior goal difference Rodolfo Borrell's side will still harbour hopes of landing the title, albeit with an under strength side due to the forthcoming U17 European Championships.
On a rain-soaked pitch at Finch Farm, the visitors made a sluggish start and looked a shadow of the side that had notched up 84 goals in 28 matches this season.
The inclusion of Tom Ince and Suso did little to deter a determined Everton team and after Jake Bidwell had headed a good chance over the top they took the lead on seven minutes.
A right-wing corner was swerved right into the danger area where Dier rose unmarked to bullet a header beyond Jamie Stephens.
It was a bitter blow for the away side and they were left reeling again just three minutes later when a lightning break down the left ended with Hope arriving late to steer a stunning shot into the far corner.
It was all the more frustrating for Liverpool as Joe Rafferty appeared to have been fouled in the lead up to the goal.
The Reds were struggling to gain a foothold in the game and despite half chances for Toni Silva and Suso they rarely looked like troubling Connor Roberts in the Everton goal.
Instead, all of the action of note was taking place at the other end and Anton Forrester came close to embarrassing Stephens with an audacious 30 yard curler that dipped just over the crossbar before Lundstram guided his volley straight at the Reds stopper.
It seemed like being a huge let off for Liverpool just prior to the interval but they did not heed the warning and three minutes later the home team added their third of the afternoon.
Some determined play by Jordan Barrow on the left side of the Liverpool penalty area saw the midfielder clip a cross to the far post for Lundstram to loop a fine header back across goal and into the top corner.
It had undoubtedly been the worst 45 minutes of the season for the U18s and despite dominating possession following the interval they struggled to breakthrough a well marshalled Everton rearguard.
Both Silva and Conor Coady fired way over from distance before Suso finally tested Roberts with a smart turn and shot.
Not even the double introduction of Krisztian Adorjan and Michael Ngoo could add to Liverpool's fire power and when the latter guided a free header inches wide on 75 minutes it was clear it wasn't going to be their day.
The Blues had rarely broken beyond the halfway line in the second period but with less than six minutes on the clock they caught the visitors cold when Hope crossed for Forrester to seal the points from close range.
Liverpool U18s: Stephens, Rafferty, Smith, Sama, McGiveron, Coady, Silva, Roddan (Adorjan 65), Morgan, Suso, Ince (Ngoo 60). Unused subs: Regan, Belford, Mukendi.