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Liverpool Academy Update: New Year Edition

An action packed couple of weeks for the youth sides saw Liverpool clinch a berth in the last 16 in the UEFA Youth League in dramatic fashion.

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Results & Fixtures: Under-21s
Date Competition Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
12/17 Barclays U21 Premier League Norwich City U21 D 1-1 Dunn
12/22 Friendly Sheffield Wednesday U21 W 4-1 Dunn (2), Stewart, Sinclair

Because telling you that the U21 setup suffers from a dearth of competitive matches would make me sound like a broken record, I won't tell you that.  Instead, I will describe Marc Pelosi's first full 90 minute match since suffering a gruesome leg fracture last season against Norwich City at Carrow Road. It was Michael Beale and the U21s' first league match since Halloween, and Jamar Loza gave the hosts the lead with a fine solo effort.

However, Jack Dunn, himself returning from injury, equalized as the visitors piled on the pressure towards the end. Other notable inclusions were Kevin Stewart, playing an unfamiliar midfield role, and U18 stalwarts Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Kent.

The U21s rounded out the past two weeks with a friendly triumph over Sheffield Wednesday. Dunn has seemingly picked up where he left off pre-injury, and will look to push on and perhaps earn a loan in January. The U21s do not have a league match until mid-January, but with the relative youth of the side most of the important lads will have opportunities to feature in the UEFA Youth League match and FA Youth Cup.

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Results & Fixtures: Under-18s
Date Competition Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
12/9 UEFA Youth League FC Basel U19 W 3-0 Kent, Cleary, Sinclair
12/10 Friendly Sheffield Wednesday U18 W 3-1 Nicholas (2), OG
12/15 FA Youth Cup Bradford City U18 W 2-0 Canos, Sinclair
12/20 Barclay's U18 PL Middlesborough U18 W 4-1 Canos, Wilson (2), Ojo,

The U19s got the congested slate of fixtures off to a dramatic start in the final matchday of the UEFA Youth League group stages, mirroring the senior side's match by hosting FC Basel needing a victory to advance. In this case, the youth squad needed to win by 2 or more in order to secure a place in the last 16. Ryan Kent's superb solo effort gave the hosts the 1-0 lead which lasted deep into the second half.

As tensions rose and the hosts clearly holding the upper hand pushing for the critical 2nd goal, Ryan Fulton saved a point blank effort that would have all but ended Liverpool's hopes of advancing. A few minutes later, defender Dan Cleary rounded off a phenomenal cross by Adam Phillips in the 94th minute to secure the required scoreline. Jerome Sinclair then added a nice insurance goal before the final whistle. The youth side has drawn Benfica in the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League, a match that will be played on February 24th.

From there the U18s have really kicked on and have been playing some phenomenal football of late. Against Bradford City in the first FA Youth Cup match of the season, two very early goals by Sergi Canos, who has become a goal scoring machine, and Jerome Sinclair, who always has been one, gave Liverpool a comfortable 2-0 victory.

In the most recent league match, Liverpool faced a strong Middlesborough side that had been 6 points clear at the top of the table. Though playing well and winning matches, the U18s hadn't faced a truly tough test in a while, and by all means this was it. But that pressure did not impact the lads at all, and they breezed past the league leaders with a comprehensive 4-1 victory.

Sergi Canos opened the scoring with a calm finish off an Ojo assist for his 10th league goal of the campaign. Later, Harry Wilson scored his 7th and 8th goals of the season, one off a direct free-kick and the second from another lovely assist by Ojo. Ojo also missed a penalty and scored a quite absurd goal, beating two defenders and curling past the keeper. Two assists and a goal for Ojo, who is fast becoming one of the Liverpool's brightest shining stars.

The attacking talent is plentiful, but Ojo's physical abilities are at another level to Ryan Kent's and Harry Wilson's. These three, along with Canos and Sinclair, round out a very exciting quintet of attacking talent. Jordan Rossiter also hit the post in this match, and the end result is quite stunning considering how proficient Middlesborough have been.

The U18s are back in action on January 10th when they host Newcastle.

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