Liverpool U21 2-0 Villa U21 report: Young guns edged by Reds
Villa slipped to a fourth defeat of the Barclays U21 Premier League campaign despite a valiant second-half display.
Gordon Cowans' team once again paid the price for a poor start as Liverpool took a two-goal lead through Samed Yesil and Michael Ngoo.
After the break, though, the away side created a host of chances but were unable to salvage anything.
Cowans led his side into this clash at Langtree Park demanding a reaction after last week's League Cup defeat to Fulham.
There were five changes to the claret and blues' starting XI - Brad Watkins, Liam Bateman, Brad Lewis, Andras Stieber and Michael Drennan coming in for Benjamin Siegrist, Chris Herd, Jordan Graham, Nicklas Helenius and Jordan Bowery.
In stark contrast to the cagey affair against the Cottagers at Villa Park six days ago, this encounter got off to a frantic start.
Both goalkeepers were tested in the early stages as the two teams looked to make an early stamp on the contest.
Firstly, Ngoo fired an effort straight at Brad Watkins in the Villa goal.
Within a minute, Reds keeper Danny Ward was forced into an acrobatic stop to keep out Andras Stieber's spectacular 25-yard drive.
Stieber also showed great vision to pick out Callum Robinson, who cut in from the left and curled a right-foot effort inches wide.
Sadly for Villa, that was as good as it got in a frustrating opening period.
Liverpool - who have already taken the scalps of both Manchester clubs this term - took the lead on 25 minutes when influential playmaker Joao Carlos Teixeira threaded in Yesil with a precise through ball.
Yesil aimed for the far corner but his effort found its way into the net via a deflection off Brad Lewis.
Ten minutes later, Brad Smith got the better of Liam Bateman on the left hand side and crossed for Ngoo to convert a free header.
Cowans made changes in formation and personnel at the break - and the switches had the desired effect.
Riccardo Calder's introduction on the left-hand side made a big difference.
He skipped away from full-back Connor Randall and crossed to Robinson who hooked a volley over the bar.
Janoi Donacien headed over Drennan's corner, while keeper Ward made a string of saves from Drennan and Robinson.
The pick of the bunch from the young Liverpool custodian came 14 minutes from time when he dived to his left to push away Robinson's stinging right-foot effort to safety.
In the final minute, Liverpool could have nicked a third on the counter-attack but Jordan Rossiter somehow steered a header off target from inside the six-yard box.
LIVERPOOL: Ward, Randall, Smith, Sama, Jones, Rossiter, Ngoo, Lussey, Yesil, Brannagan, Teixeira. Subs: Dunn [for Yesil, 70], Mersin, Baio, Maguire.
VILLA: Watkins, Bateman, Kinsella, Webb, Donacien, Lewis, Stieber, Burke, Drennan, Johnson, Robinson. Subs: T Strain, Grant, Abdo, Calder [for Lewis, HT].