28/09/2021 | 14:30 | Centro de Treinos e Formacao Desportiva
Liverpool U19s battled to secure a hard-earnt point in Portugal after falling behind to Diogo Abreu’s long-range driven effort. Tyler Morton the architect with Melkamu Frauendorf applying the finishing touches; a 50-yard lofted pass inside the Liverpool half from the Wirral-born skipper would only need a side-footed finish from the second-half substitute.
Liverpool remained unchanged from The Reds’ opening victory against AC Milan with the core of the line-up being that of the side that reached the FA Youth Cup Final in 2020.
A technically proficient Porto ensured that Liverpool would not put on the vintage performance Marc Bridge-Wilkinson would have liked when controlling large chunks of play but The Young Reds’ managed to forge enough chances and sequences to be good value for a goal, if not more, without conceding chances at a whim.
Mateusz Musialowski was not only the hub of Liverpool’s attacking play but bustled his way through the match putting in defensive groundwork. Tyler Morton would be another significant performer for Liverpool, particularly asserting himself in the second-half when a leader was to be called upon.
AS IT HAPPENED
With the golden stands embellished in sunshine and home to a vociferous Portuguese crowd, an apt backdrop was provided for a high energy opening.
With both sides set to exchange blows, it would take just 2 minutes for Porto to signal their intentions. Marauding left-back Rodrigo Pinhero dashed into space on the left before switching low to Boaitey inside the box, who’s effort was surely goal-bound but for a vital block from Owen Beck.
Porto’s Umaro Cande near post effort was easily saved by Davies after showing a clean pair of heels to Bradley on the left before Sousa fired wide after an intelligent third-man-run into the box.
Liverpool had chances littered in reply. Gordon clipped a smart pass into Musialowski from deep, who’s shot was blocked, before some neat interchange in midfield slid Balagizi inside the box. A subsequent shot trickled past the opposite post.
An energetic start.
Porto had varying degrees of success playing out of Liverpool’s press. At times, brave, incisive passing would see Liverpool’s first line of defence bypassed while some moments saw the likes of Max Woltman and Kaide Gordon capitalise on a loose ball.
The natural lull after a frantic opening saw Porto circulate the ball impressively, outnumbering their counterparts in a number of areas across the pitch. Stephenson and Morton were left stretched against an organised and technically gifted midfield but did well enough to ensure the majority of holes were plugged. Porto wingers, Cande and Boaitey will come away with the respect of Bradley and Beck respectively, with neither battle a foregone conclusion in a highly entertaining clash on each wing. Although, it would be further to the Merseyside fullback’s detriment that Porto’s equivalent were equally as happy to aid their winger with an equally aggressive approach.
Musialowski, perhaps buoyed by his weekend double, played an important role defensively for The Reds. Energetic in the press and tackle, but also in his quest to pull Liverpool from a tight spot when they saw little of the ball. Several times saw pressure alleviated after Musialowski won free-kicks in his own-half allowing time to breathe, regroup and forge attacks of Liverpool’s own.
A 25-yard Musialowski effort stung the palms of Cardoso, while at the other end Cande sliced over after fortunately finding himself in space after Bradley has misjudged the flight of the ball.
Evenly poised at half-time.
Melkamu Frauendorf, replaced Kaide Gordon before the second-half proceeded, but action stayed largely uneventful.
Porto passed and probed with Sousa and Abreu looking to create opening interchanging with wing-players but any space created was eventually thwarted; at times last ditch and not pretty as Liverpool were made to work hard.
Life breathed into the game, as Liverpool had once more thwarted the Portuguese interchanges to set away with Woltman and Beck combining on the left. As play arched towards the centre, Melkamu Frauendorf perhaps thought he had more time than in-reality, failing to pull the trigger and Porto to intervene last minute.
It would perhaps be an early warning sign when Sousa’s mishit from 10 yards bounced out wide, as not long after Porto finally made their methodical possession count. Doigo Abreu picked up a loose ball 25 yeards out, hammering hard and low into Harvey Davies’ net. Advantage Porto.
And as Porto continued to toss the ball around the pitch and the crowd grew livelier, it became difficult to see that Liverpool could react.
In true Liverpool fashion, up steps the captain.
Picking up the ball inside the Liverpool half, a quarter-back-like lofted ball would find the onrushing Frauendorf, who’s side footed finish nestled in the net.
It was not always pretty from Liverpool; it was not such a case of digging deep, but Liverpool could not afford to show any let-up or drop in energy or they would have been punished accordingly against an impressive Porto side.
MATEUSZ MUSIALOWSKI – Took attacking responsibility in the absence of Kaide Gordon in the second half dropping deep. Managed to wriggle out Liverpool of a number of tricky situations with his close-quarter dribbling, whether through skipping past a man or winning a free-kick. Covered ground no-end today.
TYLER MORTON – Produced moment of magic when team needed but an all round game showed moments of technical quality. Was up against it with the organisation of the Porto midfield. Morton and Stephenson did well to hold position against quality outfit. Morton beginning to show his smart pass selection.