Match reportU19s beat Porto 4-0 to move top of Youth League group
Liverpool U19s strengthened their hopes of reaching the UEFA Youth League last 16 by beating closest rivals FC Porto 4-0 on Wednesday.
Clinical first-half strikes by Dominic Corness and Stefan Bajcetic put the contest in the Reds’ control and they sealed a big three points at the Academy through Max Woltman and James Norris after the interval.
The result lifted Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s side above Porto in the Group B table by virtue of their head-to-head record, with both teams on 10 points ahead of the final fixtures next month.
Watched by a graduate of this competition in recent years, Curtis Jones, the hosts made a confident start and their early domination was rewarded on five minutes.
Corness began the flowing team move that was quickened when Kaide Gordon’s reverse pass into the right channel invited Norris to drive forward.
Norris picked his head up and guided a low cross into the middle for the arriving Corness, who deftly tucked a side-footed finish into the bottom right corner for 1-0.
Liverpool were close to a second soon after but, following good approach work by Owen Beck down the left, Norris’ shot from inside the box was deflected wide.
Having weathered the Reds’ assaults with just one concession, Porto began to warm to the task and created several clear chances to get themselves level.
First, Jorge Meireles snuck into a pocket of space in the area to meet Jose Macedo’s delivery from the right flank. The crucial touch did not equal the movement, though, as his header drifted well wide.
The forward went much closer in the 27th minute, forcing Fabian Mrozek into a dive at his near post by carrying the ball from halfway and firing in a low swerver from 20 yards.
Liverpool resumed control as half-time neared. Woltman shot straight at Ivan Cardoso after another excellent move involving Norris and Melkamu Frauendorf, before Gordon had penalty appeals dismissed when appearing to be clipped by Rodrigo Pinheiro.
They did get their two-goal lead in the final minute of three added on, however.
As the Porto penalty area filled to await a Corness free-kick on the left-hand side, he cutely rolled it back to Bajcetic in the ‘D’ for an assured low hit that found the net, perhaps with a slight deflection.
The Reds continued their ascendancy in the second half and Gordon was inches away from a wonder goal with 54 on the clock.
Beck’s dribble forward created space and Corness’ disguised pass moved the ball out to Gordon on the right edge of the box. His first-time curler had Cardoso scrambling to get a vital touch over the crossbar.
Bajcetic sent a header too close to the Porto goalkeeper as Beck clipped in another inviting delivery from the short corner routine that followed.
The visitors remained in the game and had sighters of a goal that might spark a comeback – but instead it was Liverpool who added to the scoresheet further.
Corness was a central figure once more, his dribble through the middle seeing the ball come to Gordon, whose strike was deflected at close range.
It ran favourably into the box for the waiting Woltman – judged onside by the tiniest margin – and the No.9 coolly dinked his effort over Cardoso to effectively confirm a classy, and important, victory that was added to by a Norris finish in the 90th minute.
A win at AC Milan next month would now guarantee the Reds progress to the last 16.
Liverpool U19s: Mrozek, Bradley, Beck (Chambers, 85), Quansah, Koumetio, Bajcetic, Gordon, Corness, Woltman, Norris, Frauendorf (Musialowski, 70).
Unused substitutes: Davies, Cannonier, Mabaya, Clark, Miles.