Theo Squires discusses the key points of the Liverpool Under-19s’ 4-0 win over Porto in UEFA Youth League
Tyler Morton made his Premier League debut on Saturday against Arsenal. On Wednesday, Liverpool’s Porto took on Tyler Morton.
Jurgen Klopp’s senior side against the Portuguese outfit, as the Reds contend with an ongoing injury crisis and pondered how to approach what was effectively a dead-rubber.
Instead, they were held back to assist Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U-19s team with UEFA Youth League duties. The duo could have been excused for feeling disappointed about not being able to get first-team minutes.
Liverpool allowed to name 12 substitutes and call upon five of them in the Champions League, they too would have held out hope of joining Morton in gaining senior continental minutes, and can explain why there was perhaps slight surprise that they were included in the U19s’ starting line-up.
run out 4-0 winners and all but confirm at least a play-off place for the knock-out stages.
Bradley took just five minutes to show the pinpoint accuracy that is the hallmark of any young full back coming through Liverpool’s academy. He played the ball back for Dominic Corness, who was eager to get the Reds moving.
Beck may not have received an assist, but he tried. Beck was the standout player on his side, as he continuously burst down the flank and linked up with James Norris. This caused no end of problems for the Porto defense by beating men after men before delivering crosses to the box.
Although they may not have been in the first team, their senior exposure is clearly helping the young duo. Their displays at this level show why they are just outside the senior set-up.
It is not yet clear if they will play against AC Milan at San Siro or the Italian’s Under-19s team in two week’s time. However, with a busy festive season, as well as League Cup and FA Cup exploits and the Africa Cup of Nations in January there will be more opportunities for senior action.
They can, however, keep up the good work they are doing in the youth ranks so they don’t get left behind when Klopp calls.
Left-back Beck and Bradley continue to play well, Andy Robertson will have more to watch than Kostas Tsimikas. Neco Williams, despite being turned against Porto, might find himself moving closer to the exit door looking for regular starting football with a replacement.
Gordon is sometimes alive
Kaide Gordon, Morton, Bradley, and Beck were also present on the bench against the Gunners. However, unlike the trio, he would have known that Klopp would not consider him for the Champions League match with Porto due to UEFA regulations.
The Reds’ List A squad was not completed by the deadline. Additionally, the Reds’ List A team did not include the winger. He had been out of the club for a while and therefore missed another chance to play senior football.
The former Derby County youthster, who turned 17 last month is likely to be in the Champions League if he can live up to the potential that he has already shown at Liverpool.
However, his performance against Porto U19s was marred by inconsistency as well as rawness. This is what you would expect from a young player still learning his trade.
The youngster started brightly, seeing a lot of ball in the first moments. He cut inside from the right but saw a shot blocked. Later, he was dispossessed just as he was about to pull the trigger.
He saw less of it and drifted in an out as the second half progressed. The Reds chose to exploit the joy Beck, Norris and the left, and he was visibly frustrated when he was denied a spot-kick shortly before the break.
After Beck’s great run, Beck picked him out and was able to score. However, he was denied by Ivan Cardoso who made a fantastic fingertip save after cutting inside and bent an attempt at goal.
As the game progressed, Gordon failed to fully exploit his Porto defense runs and was forced to link up with Bradley more. He was more effective when playing the match to the right-back.
It is clear that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah have the balance right in the first team. This could prove to be more advantageous for him than any single moment of magic. He has at times tried too hard to do too many things on his own. Sometimes less is more.
One outstanding piece of defensive play saw Bradley’s wideman sprint back to cover Bradley and dispose Rodrigo Pinheiro as he tried to sneak in behind the defence.
Gordon would end proceedings with a fortuitous assistance to his name. His deflected shot fell kindly towards Max Woltman inside the box. He scored the Reds’ third goal. However, Gordon might feel disappointed that he was unable to test Cardoso.
Klopp has named a 24-man Champions League squad. The 17-year old could be added to List A depending on Liverpool’s January transfer business. If deemed fit, he could also be turned to for Africa Cup of Nations duty.
However, this evidence shows that he still needs to take a few steps before he can knock on the door of the first-team more prominently after domestic cup duty.
Liverpool’s midfield has been affected by severe injuries in the first and youth teams this season. However, it is not something you could have predicted against Porto.
Morton was about to make his Champions League debut, so Corness, the only natural midfielder, started the match for the Reds against the Portuguese at Kirkby. He opened the scoring immediately with a well-placed goal from the box’s edge.
Norris and Stefan Bajcetic were more impressive than him, especially considering that they weren’t in their preferred positions.
Porto proved to be physically demanding after losing Vasco Sousa to injury and finding themselves behind, so Bajcetic was appointed the holding midfielder. He took on challenges and ensured his team came out victorious in an intense battle in the engine room.
The former Celta Vigo player even made it onto the scoresheet just before the break. He finished well after Corness gave him a free kick.