Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 4 – Liverpool breeze past Under-23 Aston Villa side

Liverpool Fans

 2020-21 FA Cup 3rd round report: Aston Villa vs. Liverpool

Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 4 – Villa Park

Sadio Mane scored a brace as Liverpool managed to overwhelm a young Aston Villa side to progress to the 4th round of the 2020-21 FA Cup. Following a Covid outbreak in their first-team squad, Villa’s realistic hopes of progressing were dashed before kick-off when stand-in manager Mark Delaney was compelled to pick 7 players from his Under-23 squad and four from the Under-18s.

Starting with a team with an average age of just over 18, the hosts were, quite unsurprisingly, down by a goal in as early as the 4th minute when Mane headed in from a Curtis Jones cross from the right.

The visiting Reds had quite a few opportunities to extend their lead as Georginio Wijnaldum wasted a glorious chance when he couldn’t capitalize on a perfect cross from Jones.

Villa goalkeeeper Akos Onodi then denied Fabinho from 12 yards and followed that up by keeping out a low effort from Mohammed Salah. Liverpool were left to rue their missed chances in the first half as the hosts stunned them in the 41st minute with an equalizer.

Seventeen-year old Louie Barry raced onto Callum Rowe’s pass, waltzed past defender Rhys Williams and executed a cool finish past Liverpool custodian Caoimhin Kelleher to draw level for his side.

Villa were resolute in their defense but could not keep up to the sustained pressure of Liverpool attackers in the second-half as they let in a flurry of goals in a five-minute spell.

The stalemate was broken in the 60th minute when Takumi Minamino set up Wijnaldum for the latter to finish low to keeper Onodi’s left from the edge of the box.

Mane doubled his tally for the night when he eluded Villa right-back Jake Walker to receive Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross and loop a header over Onodi to make it 1-3 for the visitors in the 63rd.

Barely two minutes later Salah, having afforded sufficient space by Villa center-back Mungo Bridge, took another Shaqiri pass, turned and fired in for the Reds’ fourth in the 65th.

Liverpool almost added to their lead when Roberto Firmino dragged his shot wide and Thiago Alacantra saw his long-distance effort thudding the crossbar. Liverpool have good memories of Villa Park, having won four FA Cup semi-finals at the venue and then going on to win the Cup.

As for Villa, few were expecting this under-age side to do much against the Premier League champions but they however performed better than some would have thought and the goal from Barry will be a talking point for some time to come.

Aston Villa starting XI: Onodi (goal), Bridge, Revan, Walker, Rowe, Chrisene, Barry, Kesler, Sylla, Raikhy, Bogarde.

Subs: Sohna, Rowe, Young, Swinkels, Lindley.

Liverpool starting XI: Kelleher (goal), N Williams, R Williams, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Jones, Mane, Minamino, Salah.

Subs: Thiago, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Origi, Shaqiri.

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