Liverpool?s youngsters continued their NextGen Series campaign with a 1-1 draw against Wolfsburg at Anfield on Wednesday.
After an impressive 4-0 destruction of Molde in the previous match, reserve team boss Rodolfo Borrell named the same starting 11 but the Reds were unable to carry over any momentum against their German counterparts.
The Reds underachieved in a first-half display in which they came out sluggish and were outplayed for most of the 45-minute period. Surprisingly, the midfield, boasting talents such as Suso, Conor Coady, Raheem Sterling, and Craig Roddan, was unable to stamp its authority on the game and Wolfsburg dictated the tempo.
Despite not controlling proceedings, the Reds barely missed out on a two-goal lead, with Toni Silva?s attempt cleared off the line by Wolfsburg captain Jonas Sonnenberg and a deep free kick blast from Suso nicking the frame of the goal only to go wide.
The Reds almost made it level into the half, however the Wolves were able to snatch a set-piece goal in stoppage time to head into the break up a goal.
Following a foul right just outside Liverpool?s area, Wolfsburg midfielder Maximilian Arnold looped a ball to the back post for Hendrik Hansen to knock past Liverpool keeper Tyrell Belford, an appropriate reward for an impressive first-half performance.
Borrell made one change during the break, bringing striker Krisztian Adorjan on in place of the attacking midfielder Suso. Whether it was through the substitution or from Borrell?s half-time instructions, the young Reds came out and played a markedly better second period, limiting Wolfsburg?s attacking menace and, in some segments, taking the game to the visitors.
Liverpool ratcheted up the pressure as the half wore on, but Wolfsburg defiantly attempted to hold out for the full three points — a result which would have moved them ahead of the Reds in group two.
The breakthrough finally came in the 87th minute as a bit of magic from the substitute Adorjan finally got the Reds their long-sought goal.
Adorjan kept his defender Robin Knoche on his back as he received Sterling?s ball to feet just inside the area. After briefly opening up towards goal, Adorjan niftily knocked the ball through his legs towards the by-line, beating his marker in the process. Having earned himself some space in the area, Adorjan drove a low ball towards goal where Wolfsburg?s Marvin Kleihs became an unwilling goal scorer, diverting the ball into his own net.
Having secured a late equalizer, and the momentum surge that accompanies it, the Reds almost went on to grab a very late win, but chances from substitute Adam Morgan and Coady could not provide an additional breakthrough.
Although there were some positives in Liverpool?s improved second-half display, Borrell was less than enthused when speaking post-match to LFC.tv, “We are grateful to get a draw but overall I was disappointed with our performance.
“We were below par. I thought we were sloppy, especially in the first half. We improved in the second half but we need to work hard every day to keep on improving.
“The only positive for me from the night was we didn’t lose the game and we need to be much better when we travel to Wolfsburg next week.”
After three matches, Liverpool sit second in group two on four points, currently ahead of both Molde and last place Wolfsburg, but trail Sporting Lisbon who have earned the full nine points from their matches.