Aston Villa become deserved FA Youth Cup 2021 winners after beating Liverpool 2-1, flexing their qualities in the process.
Two impressive campaigns would meet in a climatic showdown; The free-scoring, swooning Aston Villa who recorded multiple heavy victories including a 9-0 win at Burton, up against the resilient Liverpool who dug deep to see off Manchester United, demolishing Arsenal and Leicester in the process.
A double salvio in the opening 10 minutes left Liverpool fearing the worst after Chrisene’s precise darted effort found the bottom corner from outside the box before Brad Young’s confident hop-skip-jump penalty swiftly doubled The Villains lead.
Melkamu Frauendorf, for the second time in as many rounds, came off the bench to grab a goal when his volleyed effort was skewed back towards goal to give Liverpool a slither of hope for the final 15 minutes. Villa held tight and kept Liverpool at bay, running out deserved winners.
The opening exchanges did provide encouragement for The Young Reds. Balagizi found space twice on the right while Woltman found himself deep in the box unable to get his shot away. Both times, failing to capitalise.
Villa quickly began to show why the talk heading into the game centred around their impressive firepower as they threatened to pull the trigger.
And it quickly bellowed.
The ever present Arjan Raikhy’s intelligent run in behind in the left channel presented the opportunity to cutback to Chrisene who found himself at the edge of the box. He made no mistake and promptly finished, low and hard into the bottom with Villa’s first real chance of the game.
Advantage Aston Villa.
A small hill to hurdle became a mountain when Billy Koumetio clipped Brad Young in the penalty box giving the referee no choice but to award Villa the chance to double their lead.
A Jorginho-esque penalty set Villa well on their way after only 10 minutes.
Villa smelled blood with the dancing Carney Chukwuemeka, fresh from a 20 minute Premier League appearance only last night, waltzing through the midfield and probing away. But it was Arjan Raikhy who really caught the eye, setting the tempo in midfield as Villa moved the ball around with intent and purpose.
Even Liverpool’s most promising chances in the first-half were of their own doing, nearly shooting themselves in the foot as Balagizi won the ball high up the pitch to set up Mateusz Musialowski who fired over a half-open net.
Villa’s dominance quickly resumed as Liverpool lacked a composure on the ball, opting for the second ball approach of the first-team. Ambitious passed were lofted upfield aiming to win the errant ball but too many times passes were wayward.
Chukwuemeka’s burst in to the box goaded a tackle out of the defence of Liverpool with Chrisene hitting the resulting bobbling loose ball onto the post. Just after, Brad Young had shown quick feet to beat Norris on the by-line, advancing on goal to fire wide from a tight angle.
Liverpool needed to regroup at half-time, although, they had created openings, just sparingly. The Villa defence could have been challenged more. A learning curve.
Quansah was forced into a block as Chukwuemeke cut across the box firing back towards goal just before the whistle blew.
At times, Villa were playing champagne football, neatly sewing up their campaign as a whole, looking like they were paying homage to the drubbings prior. Liverpool were just about coping, forced into a number of last ditch blocks and tackles.
Melkamu Frauendorf made an immediate impact after being substituted on for Dom Corness, finding Max Woltman in the centre of the box with a lovely weighted pass who dragged wide.
With more vigour in the press and intensity on the ball, Liverpool became instantly more recognisable.
But Villa’s threat was maintained. Barry stung the palms of Davies before the Scouse shot-stopper did well to not get caught out by Brad Young’s near post effort from the left hand-side of the box
Liverpool’s fullbacks were given their own personal mountains to climbs as they were regularly isolated against players like Louie Barry; relentless in his attempts to run in behind, while also capable enough to drop deep.
It would be that man again, super-sub Melkamu Frauendorf, who provided Liverpool with much needed impetus.
As the ball was lifted in to the box, Frauendorf almost curled his leg round a Villa defender to volley home from inside the box with unorthodox technique. It was probably an own goal. I’m giving it to Frauendorf.
Had the goal came 10 minutes earlier, Liverpool would have equalised. Although, after a few tentative knocks on the door Jarell Quansah nearly knocked it down as his close range header lacked the power to trouble the Villa goalkeeper. It was a big chance from the edge of the six yard box.
Villa edged closer to lifting the trophy, nearly doing so with emphasis, taking a goal saving block from Luca Stephenson to deny Raikhy from capping off a man-of-the-match performance with a goal.
And the full-time whistle blew.
Villa were deserved FA Youth Cup Winners
Congratulations to everyone involved.
A memorable journey capped off by a final. It was not the result the players had wanted but they performed admirably surrounded by friends whom they have fought for all season. The FA Youth Cup is the most prestigious youth competition in English football. Thus it is indicative of their talent that they have made it thus far in the most difficult of circumstances. Even at 16, 17 and 18 all of these players have made sacrifices already in their young lives no matter what their profession is. It will be difficult to not be upset but in context, all of the players involved today have achieved a lot in a very short space of time. They should be proud.