Liverpool reached the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable victory over Aston Villa, beaten by Covids – but it wasn’t until the second half that they beat a home team made up of academy players with no first division experience.

But despite conceding a goal in the fourth minute from Sadio Mane’s header, they remained resolutely defensive for the rest of the half and then surprised the visitors when 17-year-old Louis Barry equalised.

The England U17 striker, who was born just a few miles from Villa Park, signed for more than £800,000 last January after passing through FC Barcelona’s academy. His calm arrival four minutes before the break was as safe as could be expected from Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for Villa, the boys were tired and the Reds put more pressure on them in the second half, scoring three goals in five minutes after the break.

Georginio Wijnaldum put Liverpool ahead in the second half hour before Mane’s header landed in the net and Mohamed Salah scored with a low shot from the edge of the area.

Youth offers the sunny side for Villa

Barry’s escape raises the bar at the Villa…

A penny for the thoughts of the Villa youngsters when they heard they would be up against Salah, Mane and Jordan Henderson.

Club director Christian Perslow explained that on Thursday the club’s staff had to find enough players under 23 and under 18 to form a line-up for the match.

The players then had to undergo Covid 19 testing – fortunately for Villa, all results came back negative on Friday morning. According to Perslow, many of the players were so young that their mothers and fathers dropped them off at Villa Park.

The first 11 players were 17 years old, with midfielder Benjamin Krisen the youngest at 16.

Understudy Mark Delaney looked as scared as those who read the team roster when he gave his pre-game interview. He knew his motley crew of young players had little chance of beating their opponents, even in extra time, but they put in a better performance than some expected and a goal from Barry would cheer the club on.

The confidence the teenager showed when he popped up in front of defender Reece Williams and slipped the ball past Kaoimin Kelleher was superb, as was Callum Rowe’s deep pass.

His teammates were just as remarkable. Goalkeeper Akos Onodi (19) made some brilliant saves against Curtis Jones and Salah. The defence in front of him prevented the Hungarian from having an even tighter evening, with both captain Dominic Revan and Bridge Mungo performing well.

Villa’s realistic hopes for progress were dashed before they even started, but the young people made a positive contribution.

Lines

Aston Villa

Training 4-5-1

51Onodi

46Walker42Revan37Bridge47Rowe

62Pagans67Raihi69Diala Silla70Bogard57Hrizen

61Barry

  • 51Onodi
  • 46WalkerReplacement for Rowat 75’minutes
  • 42Revan
  • 37Bridge
  • 47RoweRplace forShopsat 75’minutes
  • 62Heyden
  • 67RaikhySubstitution of Sohnaat 65’minutes
  • 69Diala Silla
  • 70BogardSubstitution of Lindliat 66’min
  • 57KrizenReplaced by Yongata in the 61st minute.
  • 61Barry

Replaces

  • 45 Hold the horses
  • 50Sun
  • 68Youth side
  • 71Lindley
  • 72Angels
  • 73Rove
  • 74Iling
  • 75Zycz.
  • 76Jay Hart

Liverpool

Formation of a 4-3-3

62Kelleher

76N Williams46R Williams3Fabinho7Milner

17Jones14Henderson5Wijnaldum

11Salah10Mane18Minamino

  • 62Kelleher
  • 76H Williams
  • 46R Williams
  • 3Fabiño
  • 7Miller
  • 17JonesBay in the 44th. Minute substitution from Firmino at the 61st minute.
  • 14HendersonSubstitution of Thiago Alcantarabei 45’minutes
  • 5Bijnaldum
  • 11Salah Replaced by Oxlada-Chamberlane 74 minutes
  • 10ManéReplaced byOrigiat 74’minutes
  • 18 MinaminoReplaced for Shakirat 61 minutes

Replaces

  • 1Alisson
  • 6Tiago Alcantara
  • 9Firmino
  • 15Oxlada-Chamberlain
  • 23Shakiri
  • 26Robertson.
  • 27Origi
  • 47Phillips
  • 66Alexander-Arnold

Real-time text

  1. End of the game, Aston Villa 1, Liverpool 4.
  2. End of second half, Aston Villa 1, Liverpool 4.
  3. The attempt has failed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) right footed shot from a tight angle on the right is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Roberto Firmino.
  4. Corner, Liverpool. Founded by Sil Swinkels.
  5. Corner, Liverpool. Presented by Kane Hayden.
  6. Corner, Liverpool. Presented by Kane Hayden.
  7. Thiago (Liverpool) rattles the bar and the ball goes out of the penalty area with his right foot. Sponsored by Divock Origi.
  8. The attempt has failed. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the bottom right corner. Prepared by Xherdan Shaqiri with a cross.
  9. The attempt has failed. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) fires a shot outside the box with his right foot and misses with a left footed drive. Sponsored by James Milner.
  10. Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) is penalised after committing a foul.
  11. Mamadou Dialla Sylla (Aston Villa) hits a free kick in the opponent’s half.
  12. Attempting rescue. Divock Origi (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Thiago.
  13. Replacement : Aston Villa. Edward Rowe replaces Jake Walker.
  14. Replacement : Aston Villa. Seal Swinkels replaces Callum Rowe.
  15. Replacement : Liverpool. Divock Origi replaces Sadio Mane.
  16. Replacement : Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Mohamed Salah.
  17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) is penalised after committing a foul.
  18. Dominic Revan (Aston Villa) is awarded a free kick in the opposite half.
  19. Offside, Liverpool. James Milner plays a forward pass, but Sadio Mane is caught offside by the referee.
  20. Corner, Liverpool. Introduced by Dominic Revan.

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