AcademyU18s match report: Figueroa hits hat-trick as Reds beat Wolves
A first-half hat-trick from Keyrol Figueroa helped Liverpool U18s to a 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Academy.
The 16-year-old striker had three goals on the board within the opening 30 minutes on Saturday as the Reds started the U18 Premier League North tie in impressive fashion.
Wolves were reduced to 10 men for a straight red card early in the second half and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s side will perhaps be disappointed they did not embellish the scoreline further in Kirkby.
Figueroa caught the eye as early as the 10th minute, firing a superb volley in on Stan Amos from a narrow angle that the goalkeeper tipped over for a corner.
Amos was called into action again five minutes later; Josh Davidson did well on the right and crossed for Michael Laffey to win a good tackle before firing in a strong effort that was pushed away once more.
Liverpool took a deserved lead in the 17th minute, though, as a pass from Jayden Danns allowed Figueroa to bear down on goal and blast a finish past Amos for his first.
Lewis Koumas looked sharp as he continued his return from injury and he almost had a second for the young Reds a few minutes later.
Koumas latched on to a good pass out of defence from Lucas Pitt in the channel and took it around the advancing goalkeeper, but that left him at a narrow angle and Amos was able to recover in time.
Liverpool nevertheless stretched their lead at the midpoint of the half, this time making the most of a set-piece. Laffey delivered a fine corner and Figueroa leapt highest to send a looping header over the ’keeper.
Figueroa completed his treble just shy of the half-hour mark, when Amos’ attempted pass out came straight to the forward, who was left to convert into an empty net.
Wolves hit the post twice before the break, however. First, Fraser Harper struck the upright after meeting a cutback from the right, then substitute Owen Farmer beat the offside trap but also sent his effort against the post.
The visitors’ momentum was checked within two minutes of the second half beginning, with Testimony Igbinoghene receiving a straight red card for a high challenge on Laffey in midfield.
Both teams were disjointed in the aftermath of that dismissal, Wolves battling hard with 10 players and the Reds seeming caught in the familiar ‘stick or twist’ scenario against their reduced opponents.
Koumas put a header wide from a good position at the back post from an Afolami Onanuga cross, while Onanuga himself blasted over following a Figueroa pass.
Centre-back Luca Furnell-Gill headed off target from another Laffey corner and Danns curled an effort wide of the post, but in general Liverpool were content to keep the ball and control of the game, seeing it out comfortably for a welcome three points.
With the last kick of the encounter, Fabian Mrozek needed to be quickly off his line to clear as Wolves threatened a late consolation but the Polish goalkeeper kept his clean sheet intact.
Liverpool U18s: Mrozek, Davidson (Roberts, 87), Scanlon, Furnell-Gill, Pitt, Laffey, Figueroa (Gift, 75), Onanuga, Koumas, Kelly (Osborne, 70), Danns.
Unused subs: Hewitson, Hayes-Green.