Aston Villa beat Liverpool 5-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Football League Cup. The Reds were forced to play with youngsters since the team's senior players are busy with FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
The average age of the Liverpool players during yesterday's match was 19 years and 182 days. Villa has now reached the semi-final of the tournament. They will be aiming to win the title for the sixth time. The last time Villa won the League Cup was in 1996. They would want to repeat the heroics after 23 years.
Villa scored four goals during the first half, and that shattered the confidence of the young guns of Liverpool. Last night's defeat was the Reds' first domestic loss of this season. Football pundits claim that the result was expected, given the circumstances.
Conor Hourihane opened the account for the home team in the 14th minute. Then Morgan Boyes accidentally scored an own goal in the 17th minute. Jonathan Kodija scored a brace, as his first goal came in the 37th minute and the next one came shortly after, in the 45th minute. The second-half's only goal came in the 90+2nd minute, courtesy of Wesley Moraes.
It was an unusual fixture, which meant that the UEFA Champions League title defenders needed to play two separate games in distinct competitions within 24 hours in different continents. As a result, the Reds had to give opportunities to their reserve bench.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and main players such as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Virgil van Dijk chose to play their Club World Cup tie in Qatar, which features the winners of the numerous continental club titles. This meant that the Reds needed to scramble together a patched-up team full of young players to compete against Aston Villa in the League Cup semi-final.
Last night, five young players made their senior team debuts for Liverpool. Forward Tom Hill debuted with the No. 99 jersey. Liverpool's under-23 team coach Neil Critchley replaced Klopp in the dugout. Before kickoff, Klopp spoke to the journalists in Doha and spoke about his intention to watch the game on television alongside his senior footballers.
After the match, Liverpool's stand-in manager Critchley said, "I thought the start to the game was brilliant. I thought we were actually the better team for 12 or 13 minutes. I thought we were magnificent. We were really unfortunate to concede from a free-kick and a cruel deflection and find ourselves 2-0 down. It was an incredible night and no one wanted it to end."