Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn smashes Michael Owen record to become club's youngest goalscorer

Liverpool 2 Leeds Utd 0

By Simon Hughes

In those early long days as a youth team player, Ben Woodburn would travel down the A59 to Tarporley from Liverpool's academy in Kirkby and fall asleep in the back of the car.

Such was the player's ability and so much did Liverpool want him, they agreed to the request of his mum, Alison, that he should live at home rather than with house parents near Rainhill School, where he was educated.

Liverpool hired a driver because Alison wanted her son to lead as normal a life as possible. How much longer that will last is difficult to predict because Woodburn - aged 17 - became the youngest goalscorer in the club's history, taking over from Michael Owen by three clear months, when he scored the second in the EFL Cup quarter-final win against Leeds last night.

Woodburn thrashed his goal into the net in front of the Kop. The moment secured Liverpool's victory because only a few minutes earlier, another teenager in Trent Alexander-Arnold had supplied Liverpool's first, whipping a glorious cross for Divock Origi (right) to meet at the near post.

Ahead of kick-off, the television cameras returned to 2009, screening imagery of Alexander-Arnold as a 10-year-old mascot being led out by Jamie Carragher at Elland Road when these clubs last met.

It would be an understatement to say these are times laden with opportunity for Liverpool's young players under Jurgen Klopp.

The evening began with bad news for Liverpool, Klopp confirming Philippe Coutinho will be unavailable for up to five weeks after a scan revealed the extent of the Brazilian's ankle ligament damage.

That his absence might extend into the New Year, meaning he would miss a minimum of six league fixtures, potentially including one with Manchester City, represents a test of Klopp's management, considering too that he is presently dealing with a squad where four other creative players, who in normal circumstances would be expected to step up to the plate in Coutinho's absence, all have different fitness concerns.

Klopp was always going to rest players here regardless and 10 changes were made to the team that started and defeated Sunderland on Saturday. Garry Monk tinkered too and of the side that travelled to Rotherham and won - Leeds' third victory on the road in succession - four were rested.

Amongst them was 12-goal leading scorer Chris Wood and though he was introduced on the hour mark, his resting from the start offered the clearest insight into Monk's way of thinking. His priorities lie in the Championship this year.

At half-time, Leeds nevertheless had matched Liverpool to the point where they almost became too comfortable. From a Charlie Taylor throw-in, Kalvin Phillips undercooked his backpass. Emre Can pounced on the opportunity and really should have scored.

It is possible that Taylor, the powerfully built 23-year-old left-back, will be a Liverpool player next season. Currently, James Milner usually plays there because of Alberto Moreno's consistent inability to understand where he is supposed to position himself defensively.

Leeds became the latest opponent to target the area when Stuart Dallas sent a pass racing into the space left behind by Moreno. Like Can after him, Hadi Sacko was unable to enforce the punishment, though Simon Mignolet had a lot to do with that.

In a now sepia tinted era, fists, elbows, jaws and broken bones would feature when Liverpool met Leeds. When substitute Phillips, Leeds born, decided to chop into successive tackles, the supporters in the away end loved it. In truth, it was never that sort of game.

Early in the second half, Kemar Roofe, the visitors' chief threat, saw his curling shot rebound off the post after beating Mignolet, who then denied the Leeds attacker's angled shot.

Another chance went begging when Kyle Bartley headed wide at a corner and there was a growing sense that Leeds would pay for missing so many chances against one of the highest-scoring sides in the Premier League.

Georginio Wijnaldum crashed a shot against the post before Origi, who had been guilty of wasting too many chances in the penalty area, finally decided to keep it simple and slid in to convert Alexander-Arnold's cross.

But the biggest roar of the night came nine minutes from time when substitute Woodburn joyously blasted into the roof of the net in front of the Kop to cap a memorable few days for the teenager.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Lucas, Klavan, Moreno, Ejaria (Milner 82), Stewart (Woodburn 67), Can, Mané, Origi (Grujic 90), Wijnaldum. Goals: Origi 76 Woodburn 81

Subs not used: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Henderson

LEEDS: Silvestri, Berardi, Bartley, Cooper (Ayling 45), Taylor, Vieira, O'Kane (Phillips 28), Sacko, Roofe, Dallas (Wood 62), Doukara.

Subs not used: Green, Antonsson, Grimes, Mowatt.

Man of the match: Alexander-Arnold

Match rating: 7/10 Ref: Andre Marriner

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph