Game #5607

2020-21

Position:

3rd Round

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FA Cup 3rd Round

Liverpool

Villa Park

Attendance: Behind closed doors (COVID-19)

Friday, 8 January 2021

Villa field their youngest line up in their history as sixteen players make their debuts and impress against a full strength Liverpool side.

Aston Villa

1-4

Liverpool

Scorer(s) | Louie Barry | 41' |

Assist(s) | Callum Rowe | 41' |

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AT A GLANCE

Game #5607

Season | 2020-21 |
Matchday | #19 |
Manager Game | #1 |
Friday, 8 January 2021

MATCH SUMMARY

Manager | Mark Delaney (caretaker) |
Dean Smith & the Villa first team squad in quarantine
KO | 7.45pm |
Referee | Craig Pawson |
HT Score | 1-1 |
FT Result | Lost |
FT Score | 1-4 |
Last 5 Games | WWDLL |

TEAM STATS

Team Cost:
| £0.9m |

Starting XI Average Age:
| 18.80 |

Oldest Player:
LB Callum Rowe | 21.37 |

Youngest Player:
M Ben Chrisene | 16.98 |

TEAM NEWS

Following the placement of Dean Smith and the Villa first team squad into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak at Bodymoor Heath responsibility for leading the team for the FA Cup tie with Liverpool was handed to Mark Delaney using his Under 23 squad and members of Sean Verity’s Under 18 squad.

​In all, 14 Villa staff - including 10 first team players - have tested positive as of Thursday, 7 January 2021 with further testing pending.

UNAVAILABLE

Injury | 3 |
Wesley | Knee, ACL 1 Jan 20 - 1 Jan 21 |
Ross Barkley | Hamstring, 30 Nov 20 - 1 Jan 21 |
Trézéguet | Hamstring, 17 Dec 20 - 1 Jan 21 |

Isolation | 24 |
GK Emiliano Martínez
GK Tom Heaton
GK Lovre Kalinić
GK Jed Steer
CB Björn Engels
CB Tyrone Mings
CB Ezri Konsa
CB Kortney Hause
RB Matty Cash
RB Ahmed Elmohamady
RB Frédéric Guilbert
LB Matt Targett
LB Neil Taylor
M Marvelous Nakamba
M Conor Hourihane
M John McGinn
M Douglas Luiz
M Jack Grealish
M Henri Lansbury
M Jacob Ramsey
W Bertrand Traoré
W Anwar El Ghazi
CF Ollie Watkins
CF Keinan Davis

MATCH STATS

Possession F | 17%
Possession A | 83%
Shots F | 2
Shots A | 29
Shots on Target F | 1
Shots on Target A | 13
Corners F | 2
Corners A | 18
Fouls F | 2
Fouls A | 7

MATCH PROGRAMME

LEAGUE TABLE

STARTING LINE UP

GK Ákos Ónodi |
LB Callum Rowe |
CB Dominic Revan |
CB Mungo Bridge |
CB Lamare Bogarde |
RB Jake Walker |
RB Kaine Kesler |
M Ben Chrisene |
M Mamadou Dialla Sylla |
M Arjan Raikhy |
CF Louie Barry |

SUBSTITUTES

CF Brad Young for M Ben Chrisene | 61' |
M Harrison Sohna for M Arjan Raikhy | 65' |
M Hayden Lindley for CB Lamare Bogarde | 66' |
D Sil Swinkels for LB Callum Rowe | 75' |
M Teddy Rowe for RB Jake Walker | 75' |

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

GK Oliwer Zych (Under 18) | 16 |
M Taylor Jay-Hart (Under 18) | 17 |
M Michael Tait (Under 23) | 19 |
D Frankie Ealing (Under 18) | 16 |

THE OPPOSITION

GK Caoimhin Kelleher, RB Neco Williams, CB Rhys Williams, M Fabinho, M Georginio Wijnaldum (g), M James Milner (ex), M Jordan Henderson (M Thiago), M Curtis Jones (CF Roberto Firminho), W Takumi Minamino (W Xherdan Shaqiri), W Sadio Mané (g) (g) (M Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain), CF Mo Salah (g) (CF Divock Origi).

Manager: Jürgen Klopp.
Team Cost: £269.48m
Homegrown players: 4

ex: Also played for the Villa

g: Scored

s/o: Sent off

s-: Sub off; s+: Sub on

Louie Barry slots in on debut as Villa make history, 8 January 2021

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MATCH TIMELINE

1’ Debut, GK Ákos Ónodi, LB Callum Rowe, CB Dominic Revan, CB Mungo Bridge, CB Lamare Bogarde, RB Jake Walker, RB Kaine Kesler, M Ben Chrisene, M Mamadou Dialla Sylla, M Arjan Raikhy, CF Louie Barry |
4’ Goal, 0-1, (Liverpool)
41’ Goal, 1-1, Louie Barry, Assist by Callum Rowe
HT Aston Villa 1-1 Liverpool
60’ Goal, 1-2, (Liverpool)
61’ Sub off, M Ben Chrisene, Sub on, CF Brad Young DEBUT
63’ Goal, 1-3, (Liverpool)
65’ Goal, 1-4, (Liverpool)
65’ Sub off, M Arjan Raikhy, Sub on, M Harrison Sohna DEBUT FINAL
66’ Sub off, CB Lamare Bogarde, Sub on, M Hayden Lindley DEBUT
75’ Sub off, LB Callum Rowe FINAL, Sub on, D Sil Swinkels DEBUT
75’ Sub off, RB Jake Walker FINAL, Sub on, M Teddy Rowe DEBUT
FT Aston Villa 1-4 Liverpool

ON THIS DAY

Villa handed debuts to 11 players in the starting line up for only the second time in their history with the first having come in their first professional game - also in the FA Cup - on Saturday, 13 December 1879 against Stafford Road.

Villa handed debuts to 16 players in total - their most ever in a professional fixture.

Villa fielded their youngest ever side with the starting line up having an average age of 18.80 years.

​GK Ákos Ónodi, LB Callum Rowe, CB Dominic Revan, CB Mungo Bridge, CB Lamare Bogarde, RB Jake Walker, RB Kaine Kesler, M Ben Chrisene, M Mamadou Dialla Sylla, M Arjan Raikhy, CF Louie Barry, M Harrison Sohna, M Hayden Lindley, D Sil Swinkels and M Teddy Rowe made their debuts for Villa.

GK Oliwer Zych, M Taylor Jay-Hart and D Frankie Ealing made their first squad appearances for Villa.

LB Callum Rowe, RB Jake Walker and M Harrison Sohna made their final appearances for Villa.

M Michael Tait made his only squad appearance for Villa as an unused substitute.

Louie Barry scored his first goal for Villa, on debut, aged 17.

QUOTES

Pre Match
*Villa CEO Christian Purslow*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"We were in the middle of a very, very nasty out-of-control coronavirus outbreak in our club. The Premier League protocols are very simple and have actually been tightened with the turn for the worst across the nation with the more contagious form of the virus and we are being tested twice a week. In the course of two sets of testing this week we went from clear, to nine, to 14 (positive tests) in a six-day period which was obviously very alarming and we will see where we are next time. There will be more tests this weekend."

"I think it is an absolute dream of an opportunity for very young players to play against the Premier League, European and World champions tonight and I am jealous of those young guys. Mark Delaney will be taking charge, obviously nobody within our first team bubble will be anywhere near Liverpool or Villa Park tonight. It's a brilliant opportunity for young players and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup. They will give their all for Villa.

"Our experience of this situation in the past two days has been a frightening scenario because we went from 100% negative on 1 January to 14 cases.

"We had a tricky day yesterday to try to find enough players who'd be able to represent the club tonight. The players were tested and the results came back this morning.

"These players have had no contact with any of the players in the first team. Many of them are so young their mums and dads will be dropping them off at Villa Park tonight."
---
*Villa caretaker boss Mark Delaney*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"I've been here 21 years, the way I understand the club is the way I put it to the players; You give 100 per cent for this club. You wear your heart on your sleeve for this club and you will get your rewards and fans and family will appreciate that.

"If you play at Villa Park and give your all the fans will back you all of the time. I try to instil that with the players. They're all technically gifted and they're all here for a reason but it's having that mental strength, desire and drive to be the best player you can be which fans will approve of."

"It's been a manic couple of days. The manager rang up on Thursday and said 'it looks like you might have to take the game'.

"There are excited boys in there. They're looking forward to it. This is the biggest opportunity you can have.

"At the start of every season we say you have to be ready for these opportunities. Today it's as a group which doesn't happen often.

"We're missing some of the under-23 players who were training with the first team.

"We can match them with attitude, desire and workrate and that's all I ask.

"We've just done the meeting with the gaffer. He's spoken to the players in the dressing room [on a call]."
---
Gabby Agbonlahor: "Ready if needed for one game only tomorrow."

Alan Hutton: "I’m also available if needed."

Gabby Agbonlahor: "I'll pick you up at 3pm mate, pre-match meal is at 4pm is that right @johnterry26?"
---
Post Match
*Liverpool midfielder James Milner*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"They're a good set of lads. They put a shift in. In the first half they got the goal to keep playing. We got the result in the end but not an ideal situation for our team.

"We had a situation where we got into areas but we didn't get the final ball - that has happened in the past few games.

"We needed to keep working hard and pushing things to get things right.

"We knew we had to do things better. We didn't get it right, especially for their goal.

"One of their lads said he hadn't played for two months."

“Strange circumstances, but job done from our perspective. The young Villa side deserve all the plaudits - did themselves and their club proud tonight, along with my old teammate Mark Delaney.”

“They are good players - they are at Aston Villa or a reason - so every single time you’re not quite there, you’re going to get punished - and they did that.

“They took the goal and we had to lift ourselves again.”
---
*Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

​“The kids did really well, that’s good, the boys did really well. Little Jamie Vardy (Louie Barry) was a proper threat.”
---
*Louie Barry*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"I knew I had it when I saw it... the ball in the back of the net is proudest I've been. Family screaming at the TV. I was just happy to score - hope I score many more.

"I was working very hard. When I celebrated everything came out of me. Relief. It was quite good.

"I've never been so proud of a team - from start to finish we gave it our all. Credit to ourselves and the club.

"I was cramping up a bit towards the end. You have to get used to it. With age comes physicality and good mentality."
---
*Villa boss Mark Delaney*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"We are all very proud as a club, as coaches and players. That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through.

"We deserved to go in at 1-1. It was a good goal.

"We knew they'd have a lot of ball and the potential of conceding early goals. We reacted very well and stuck together. We didn't give them too much territory.

"We thought maybe one or two bits of quality and we might get something and we did. Three or four passes and a lovely through ball.

"We know Louie Barry is a goal scorer and he took it ever so well. We see it every day. To do it on this stage against a quality team, he showed real composure.

"We are a very young group in the 23s. We do concede early goals sometimes. We showed a togetherness."

“This is the most-excited I’ve been.

“I’m hugely passionate about the club. I’ve played here and coached here for a long time. Everything’s in the right place. We’ve got some fantastic people working at this club, everyone wants to know what everyone’s doing.

“Everyone wants to know about every player at the club. There’s a good sense of this club going places which I’m happy to be involved in.”
---
*Liam Gallagher*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

​“Respect to the villa yoot LG x
---
*Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

​“Well played to the Villa youngsters tonight,
“A credit to themselves and the club.”
---

VIDEO

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*BBC Football*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

"A coronavirus outbreak at their training ground this week meant no first-team players were available to Villa, with the club fielding a starting XI composed of seven under-23 players and four from the under-18s."

*BBC Football*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

MATCH REPORT

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Liverpool reached the FA Cup fourth round with a comfortable victory over a Covid-affected Aston Villa - but it took until the second half to get on top of a home side made up of academy players with no first-team experience.

A coronavirus outbreak at their training ground this week meant no first-team players were available to Villa, with the club fielding a starting XI composed of seven under-23 players and four from the under-18s.

But despite conceding in the fourth minute when Sadio Mane headed in, they remained resolute in defence for the rest of the half and then stunned the visitors when 17-year-old Louie Barry equalised.

The England Under-17 striker, born just a few miles from Villa Park, signed for the club last January for more than £800,000 having had a spell with Barcelona's academy. His composed finish four minutes before the break was as assured as would be expected from Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for Villa, the youngsters tired and the Reds exerted more pressure in the second half, scoring three goals in a five-minute spell after the break.

Georginio Wijnaldum stroked in Liverpool's second on the hour mark before Mane looped in a header and Mohamed Salah struck home a low shot from inside the area.

Youngsters provide silver lining for Villa

A penny for the thoughts of the Villa youngsters when they were told they would be lining up against the likes of Salah, Mane and Jordan Henderson.

The club's chief executive Christian Purslow explained how, on Thursday, the staff had to find enough players from the under-23s and under-18s to come up with a matchday squad.

Those players then had to have Covid-19 tests - thankfully for Villa the results all came back negative on Friday morning. Purslow said that many of the players were so young that their "mums and dads would be dropping them off at Villa Park".

There were four players in the first XI who had recently hit driving age, 17, and midfielder Benjamin Chrisene was the youngest of the crop at just 16.

Stand-in manager Mark Delaney looked as startled as those reading the teamsheet when he gave his pre-match interview. He knew his mixed bag of youth players had little to no chance of taking their opponents to even extra time, however they did perform better than some would have expected and the goal from Barry will have lifted spirits at the club.

The confidence shown by the teenager to get in front of defender Rhys Williams and stroke the ball past Caoimhin Kelleher was superb, as was the through ball from Callum Rowe.

His team-mates were equally outstanding. Keeper Akos Onodi, 19, made brilliant stops to deny Curtis Jones and Salah, while the defence in front of him prevented the Hungarian from having an even busier night, with skipper Dominic Revan and Mungo Bridge both excellent.

Villa's realistic hopes of progressing were dashed before kick-off, but the youth on show provided a silver lining.
---
*The Guardian*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Sadio Mané double lifts Liverpool but Barry shines for youthful Aston Villa

This was supposed to be a walkover, even after the tie got the go-ahead. But for 45 minutes Liverpool were driven to the brink of humiliation by little known but highly impressive upstarts, with Aston Villa forced to field a team of players who had never contested a senior match.

The youngsters shrugged off the concession of an early goal to Sadio Mané to go in level at half-time thanks to a lovely equaliser by 17-year-old Louie Barry. “I’ve never been so proud of a team,” said Barry later. “My family were probably screaming at the TV. When I scored I actually thought: ‘We might even have a chance here.’” Class and fitness eventually told, as Georginio Wijnaldum, Mané and Mohamed Salah each found the net in a quickfire second-half salvo.

“We were a bit rusty at the start but the second half went exactly as we wanted,” said a relieved Jürgen Klopp. “There was not a lot for us to win apart from going to the next round.”

This was a surreal occasion that owed more to the strangeness of our times than to any magic of the Cup. After Villa’s entire first-team squad – and anyone in close contact with them, including Dean Smith and the senior team’s assistants, physios and kitman – were forced into isolation by a Covid outbreak that led to nine players and five staff members testing positive this week, the hosts had to hastily assemble a side made up of youth team players.

Full-back Jake Walker, 20, had to be recalled from a loan stint at Alvechurch in the Southern Premier League Central Division to help Villa complete their team sheet, which was picked by the club’s under-23s manager, Mark Delaney. He started four under-18 players, since several of the club’s most promising under-23s were among those isolating after training with the senior team earlier in the week. For Villa, then, this was primarily an administrative duty rather than a sporting contest, the most pressing concern being to fulfil a fixture. But it turned into an encounter from which the club can take heart. “That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through in the last couple of days,” Delaney said.

It was all the more commendable because Klopp’s approach made no concessions to the hosts’ predicament. Nor to his own team’s gruelling schedule – Maybe he was aiming for a hefty win to inflate confidence after his team’s recent wobbles in the Premier League, or perhaps he wanted to avenge Liverpool’s 7-2 defeat at Villa Park earlier in the season or the 5-0 defeat that an experienced Villa side inflicted on a young Liverpool team in the Carabao Cup last year. Whatever his motivation, Klopp sent out a surprisingly strong side. Villa were undaunted.

Youthful dreams of the mother of all Cup upsets seemed to evaporate after less than four minutes. Mané crept between two defenders to meet a lovely cross from the right by Curtis Jones and nod into the net.

Liverpool monopolised possession in the early stages but, to their credit, Villa’s players defended with a cohesion and focus at odds with their unsettling buildup. And gradually they grew bolder, venturing forward in the 19th minute with a well worked move that culminated in Kaine Kesler unloading a shot from 20 yards, albeit one that was charged down before it reached the box.

Liverpool found embarrassingly few openings. But they would have increased their lead if not for excellent goalkeeping by Akos Onodi, who made a one-handed save to deny Fabinho before springing to his feet to save Mané’s follow-up.

In an opening from which Villa could take much more heart than Liverpool, Salah made few inroads against the rookie home defence. He finally threatened in the 35th minute but Onodi made another good save. And then came the sensational equaliser. It was anything but a fluke.

Callum Rowe created it with a strong run followed by a visionary pass from midfield that caught Rhys Williams off guard. Barry ran away from the centre-back and held his nerve to finish like an seasoned marksman, guiding a low shot into the net from 15 yards.

Klopp summoned reinforcements, introducing Thiago Alcântara for the second period. Liverpool pushed their possession statistics even higher but still struggled to pick a way through a defence led brilliantly by Mungo Bridge and Dominic Revan. All the same, a Liverpool breakthrough began to look inevitable as Villa began to tire, their players having only returned to training this week after being given the festive period off to study.

Wijnaldum banished the prospect of a shock on the hour, guiding a low shot into the net after nimble work by Salah and Minamino.

Then Liverpool pulled away. Mané sent a clever looping header into the net from a nice cross by Xherdan Shaqiri before Salah swivelled and shot into the net from the edge of the area to make it 4-1.
---
*BBC Football*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Louie Barry: Aston Villa teenager revels in scoring against Liverpool

For a short while after scoring a dream goal against Liverpool, Aston Villa teenager Louie Barry allowed himself to think that one of the ultimate FA Cup shocks might be on.

While Villa might be a Premier League side in name, a Covid-19 outbreak at the club in the week leading up to their third-round tie against the Premier League champions meant the hosts' entire first-team squad and manager were unavailable for the game.

Even some of the under-23s could not play as they had been training with the senior side.

So when a Villa team containing seven members of the under-23 squad and four from the under-18s - a total of zero first-team appearances between them - went behind to Sadio Mane's fourth-minute header, there was a fear things could get messy.

But step forward Barry, a 17-year-old debutant who was recently on the books of Barcelona, to score a superb goal, racing from deep in his own half, withstanding the attentions of defender Rhys Williams and slotting past Caoimhin Kelleher like a seasoned pro.

Liverpool ended up 4-1 winners - second-half goals from Georginio Wijnaldum, Mane and Mohamed Salah ensuring the top-flight leaders' progress - but Barry will be the enduring memory of Friday night.

"My family will have been screaming at the TV," said the youngster, who grew up in the Midlands and was overcome with emotion while being mobbed by his team-mates.

"I was working very hard. When I celebrated everything came out of me. It was relief.

"I've never been so proud of a team - from start to finish we gave it our all."

Barry's match ended with him swapping shirts with Liverpool defender Fabinho, before quickly realising he wanted to keep his debut kit.

Fortunately, the Brazilian gave it back - and allowed the teenager to keep his Reds top.
---
*Birmingham Mail*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Here’s how we rated Villa’s youngsters after a spirited showing on their first-team debuts:

*STARTING FORMATION:* 4-5-1

*AKOS ONODI - 10*
Had no chance with Mane’s bullet header which sailed past his near post. The Hungarian international then produced a few outstanding saves, first it was to deny Fabinho’s directed effort on the 20-minute mark, tipping it around the post. Onodi then saved well from Mo Salah. The youngster’s kicking was superb as well as he looked to hit Ben Chrisene on Villa’s left flank as Villa targeted Liverpool’s Neco Williams. Tried desperately to keep Liverpool at bay and was given a shout-out by Tom Heaton after full-time.

*JAKE WALKER - 10*
The 20-year-old was recalled from Alvechurch for this one who play in the Southern Premier League Central Division. Walker, who wears his shorts high, was committed in the challenge and good in the air and kept Takumi Minamino quiet. Steamed into Mane on the touching and won the ball just after half-time.

*DOMINIC REVAN - 10*
Bodies-on-the-line stuff from Villa’s skipper. The 20-year-old was no-nonsense in his approach and worked really well with Mungo Bridge next to him.

*MUNGO BRIDGE - 10*
Bridge was good in possession tonight. There were a few nervy moments when he was dispossessed on the odd occasion but he more than made up for that with a string of sliding challenges to thwart the likes of Salah and Mane. The kid with the dreadlocks must be pinching himself after the night he’s had. Brilliant.

*CALLUM ROWE - 10*
The left-back was Villa’s oldest squad member at 21. Rowe’s not long back from a devastating knee injury which has kept him out for 12 months. Was Villa’s weak link early on but he soon settled into it and grew in stature which was evident when he pinched the ball in midfield before brilliantly sliding in Louie Barry for his equaliser.

*KAINE HAYDEN-KESLER - 10*
Hayden-Kesler has tasted first-team involvement before after making the bench at Everton during Project Restart. He’s highly thought of at Villa and played on the right of midfield. The England under-19 right-back was great and forced the issue whenever he got forward to put Liverpool left-back and Villa hero James Milner under pressure.

*MOHAMMED SYLLA - 10*
Villa’s dogged defensive midfielder was superb. The Barcelona-born Guinea native put himself about and launched into challenges for the claret and blue cause. His positioning was text-book as well as he refused to get dragged out of position.

*LAMARE BOGARDE - 10*
The 16-year-old has been making waves for Villa’s academy after his summer arrival from Feyenoord, so much so that he’s already been fast-tracked from the 18s to the 23s. Did well in the middle today up against Henderson and Curtis Jones. Stuck to his task well before being brought off for Hayden Lindley with 25 to go. Bogarde has got a huge future, make no mistake about that.

*ARJAN RAIKHY - 10*
I thought Raikhy was excellent. Pinched possession off Liverpool on numerous occasions to start attacks and worked tirelessly for the team. A proper No8 this kid is who’s still playing for Villa’s under-18s. A proud night for him and his family, that’s for sure. The teenager’s got a great future in the game.

*BEN CHRISENE - 10*
Really like this kid. Chrisene was signed by Exeter in the summer amid interest from the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. He’s really calm on the ball and is Gareth Barry-esque in his approach; tidy, neat in possession and a good left foot. Chrisene was one of two 16-year-old’s in the starting XI.

*LOUIE BARRY - 10**
Had to wait 15 minutes for his first touch when the ball ricocheted off him. Barry ran his heart out and rinsed Minamino down the right side before delivering a dangerous ball. He was just warming up at that stage and he soon got his chance and didn’t he take it well. It was Rowe with the ball in and Barry got his body between him, the ball and Rhys Williams before sprinting forward and finishing cool as you like. The hype’s real with this kid who’s one of the best finishers at the club. What a moment for the boyhood Villa fan who lived his dream tonight.

*BRAD YOUNG (on for Chrisene, 60) - 10*
The Villa youngster has scored for fun for the under-18s and has seven goals from nine fixtures for Sean Verity’s teenagers. Came on to play on the left-hand side in the second half and put in a shift. Showcased a bit of flair as well when he twirled past Shaqiri.

*HARRISON SOHNA (on for Raikhy, 65) - 10*
One of two brothers at the club, Harrison came on and played in the heart of Villa’s midfield.

*HAYDEN LINDLEY (on for Bogarde, 65) - 10*
The 18-year-old came on and played in midfield and was up against Thiago Alcantara.

*SIL SWINKELS (on for Walker, 75) - 10*
Another European addition from the summer following his move from Vitesse Arnhem. Swinkles is a natural centre-back but came on at left-back to do a job and had Shaqiri to deal with.

*EDWARD ROWE (on for C.Rowe, 75) - 10*
The pint-sized 17-year-old came on at right-midfield and did a job between Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
---

Liverpool reached the FA Cup fourth round with a comfortable victory over a Covid-affected Aston Villa - but it took until the second half to get on top of a home side made up of academy players with no first-team experience.

A coronavirus outbreak at their training ground this week meant no first-team players were available to Villa, with the club fielding a starting XI composed of seven under-23 players and four from the under-18s.

But despite conceding in the fourth minute when Sadio Mane headed in, they remained resolute in defence for the rest of the half and then stunned the visitors when 17-year-old Louie Barry equalised.

The England Under-17 striker, born just a few miles from Villa Park, signed for the club last January for more than £800,000 having had a spell with Barcelona's academy. His composed finish four minutes before the break was as assured as would be expected from Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for Villa, the youngsters tired and the Reds exerted more pressure in the second half, scoring three goals in a five-minute spell after the break.

Georginio Wijnaldum stroked in Liverpool's second on the hour mark before Mane looped in a header and Mohamed Salah struck home a low shot from inside the area.

Youngsters provide silver lining for Villa

A penny for the thoughts of the Villa youngsters when they were told they would be lining up against the likes of Salah, Mane and Jordan Henderson.

The club's chief executive Christian Purslow explained how, on Thursday, the staff had to find enough players from the under-23s and under-18s to come up with a matchday squad.

Those players then had to have Covid-19 tests - thankfully for Villa the results all came back negative on Friday morning. Purslow said that many of the players were so young that their "mums and dads would be dropping them off at Villa Park".

There were four players in the first XI who had recently hit driving age, 17, and midfielder Benjamin Chrisene was the youngest of the crop at just 16.

Stand-in manager Mark Delaney looked as startled as those reading the teamsheet when he gave his pre-match interview. He knew his mixed bag of youth players had little to no chance of taking their opponents to even extra time, however they did perform better than some would have expected and the goal from Barry will have lifted spirits at the club.

The confidence shown by the teenager to get in front of defender Rhys Williams and stroke the ball past Caoimhin Kelleher was superb, as was the through ball from Callum Rowe.

His team-mates were equally outstanding. Keeper Akos Onodi, 19, made brilliant stops to deny Curtis Jones and Salah, while the defence in front of him prevented the Hungarian from having an even busier night, with skipper Dominic Revan and Mungo Bridge both excellent.

Villa's realistic hopes of progressing were dashed before kick-off, but the youth on show provided a silver lining.
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*The Guardian*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Sadio Mané double lifts Liverpool but Barry shines for youthful Aston Villa

This was supposed to be a walkover, even after the tie got the go-ahead. But for 45 minutes Liverpool were driven to the brink of humiliation by little known but highly impressive upstarts, with Aston Villa forced to field a team of players who had never contested a senior match.

The youngsters shrugged off the concession of an early goal to Sadio Mané to go in level at half-time thanks to a lovely equaliser by 17-year-old Louie Barry. “I’ve never been so proud of a team,” said Barry later. “My family were probably screaming at the TV. When I scored I actually thought: ‘We might even have a chance here.’” Class and fitness eventually told, as Georginio Wijnaldum, Mané and Mohamed Salah each found the net in a quickfire second-half salvo.

“We were a bit rusty at the start but the second half went exactly as we wanted,” said a relieved Jürgen Klopp. “There was not a lot for us to win apart from going to the next round.”

This was a surreal occasion that owed more to the strangeness of our times than to any magic of the Cup. After Villa’s entire first-team squad – and anyone in close contact with them, including Dean Smith and the senior team’s assistants, physios and kitman – were forced into isolation by a Covid outbreak that led to nine players and five staff members testing positive this week, the hosts had to hastily assemble a side made up of youth team players.

Full-back Jake Walker, 20, had to be recalled from a loan stint at Alvechurch in the Southern Premier League Central Division to help Villa complete their team sheet, which was picked by the club’s under-23s manager, Mark Delaney. He started four under-18 players, since several of the club’s most promising under-23s were among those isolating after training with the senior team earlier in the week. For Villa, then, this was primarily an administrative duty rather than a sporting contest, the most pressing concern being to fulfil a fixture. But it turned into an encounter from which the club can take heart. “That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through in the last couple of days,” Delaney said.

It was all the more commendable because Klopp’s approach made no concessions to the hosts’ predicament. Nor to his own team’s gruelling schedule – Maybe he was aiming for a hefty win to inflate confidence after his team’s recent wobbles in the Premier League, or perhaps he wanted to avenge Liverpool’s 7-2 defeat at Villa Park earlier in the season or the 5-0 defeat that an experienced Villa side inflicted on a young Liverpool team in the Carabao Cup last year. Whatever his motivation, Klopp sent out a surprisingly strong side. Villa were undaunted.

Youthful dreams of the mother of all Cup upsets seemed to evaporate after less than four minutes. Mané crept between two defenders to meet a lovely cross from the right by Curtis Jones and nod into the net.

Liverpool monopolised possession in the early stages but, to their credit, Villa’s players defended with a cohesion and focus at odds with their unsettling buildup. And gradually they grew bolder, venturing forward in the 19th minute with a well worked move that culminated in Kaine Kesler unloading a shot from 20 yards, albeit one that was charged down before it reached the box.

Liverpool found embarrassingly few openings. But they would have increased their lead if not for excellent goalkeeping by Akos Onodi, who made a one-handed save to deny Fabinho before springing to his feet to save Mané’s follow-up.

In an opening from which Villa could take much more heart than Liverpool, Salah made few inroads against the rookie home defence. He finally threatened in the 35th minute but Onodi made another good save. And then came the sensational equaliser. It was anything but a fluke.

Callum Rowe created it with a strong run followed by a visionary pass from midfield that caught Rhys Williams off guard. Barry ran away from the centre-back and held his nerve to finish like an seasoned marksman, guiding a low shot into the net from 15 yards.

Klopp summoned reinforcements, introducing Thiago Alcântara for the second period. Liverpool pushed their possession statistics even higher but still struggled to pick a way through a defence led brilliantly by Mungo Bridge and Dominic Revan. All the same, a Liverpool breakthrough began to look inevitable as Villa began to tire, their players having only returned to training this week after being given the festive period off to study.

Wijnaldum banished the prospect of a shock on the hour, guiding a low shot into the net after nimble work by Salah and Minamino.

Then Liverpool pulled away. Mané sent a clever looping header into the net from a nice cross by Xherdan Shaqiri before Salah swivelled and shot into the net from the edge of the area to make it 4-1.
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*BBC Football*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Louie Barry: Aston Villa teenager revels in scoring against Liverpool

For a short while after scoring a dream goal against Liverpool, Aston Villa teenager Louie Barry allowed himself to think that one of the ultimate FA Cup shocks might be on.

While Villa might be a Premier League side in name, a Covid-19 outbreak at the club in the week leading up to their third-round tie against the Premier League champions meant the hosts' entire first-team squad and manager were unavailable for the game.

Even some of the under-23s could not play as they had been training with the senior side.

So when a Villa team containing seven members of the under-23 squad and four from the under-18s - a total of zero first-team appearances between them - went behind to Sadio Mane's fourth-minute header, there was a fear things could get messy.

But step forward Barry, a 17-year-old debutant who was recently on the books of Barcelona, to score a superb goal, racing from deep in his own half, withstanding the attentions of defender Rhys Williams and slotting past Caoimhin Kelleher like a seasoned pro.

Liverpool ended up 4-1 winners - second-half goals from Georginio Wijnaldum, Mane and Mohamed Salah ensuring the top-flight leaders' progress - but Barry will be the enduring memory of Friday night.

"My family will have been screaming at the TV," said the youngster, who grew up in the Midlands and was overcome with emotion while being mobbed by his team-mates.

"I was working very hard. When I celebrated everything came out of me. It was relief.

"I've never been so proud of a team - from start to finish we gave it our all."

Barry's match ended with him swapping shirts with Liverpool defender Fabinho, before quickly realising he wanted to keep his debut kit.

Fortunately, the Brazilian gave it back - and allowed the teenager to keep his Reds top.
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*Birmingham Mail*
*Friday, 8 January 2021*

Here’s how we rated Villa’s youngsters after a spirited showing on their first-team debuts:

*STARTING FORMATION:* 4-5-1

*AKOS ONODI - 10*
Had no chance with Mane’s bullet header which sailed past his near post. The Hungarian international then produced a few outstanding saves, first it was to deny Fabinho’s directed effort on the 20-minute mark, tipping it around the post. Onodi then saved well from Mo Salah. The youngster’s kicking was superb as well as he looked to hit Ben Chrisene on Villa’s left flank as Villa targeted Liverpool’s Neco Williams. Tried desperately to keep Liverpool at bay and was given a shout-out by Tom Heaton after full-time.

*JAKE WALKER - 10*
The 20-year-old was recalled from Alvechurch for this one who play in the Southern Premier League Central Division. Walker, who wears his shorts high, was committed in the challenge and good in the air and kept Takumi Minamino quiet. Steamed into Mane on the touching and won the ball just after half-time.

*DOMINIC REVAN - 10*
Bodies-on-the-line stuff from Villa’s skipper. The 20-year-old was no-nonsense in his approach and worked really well with Mungo Bridge next to him.

*MUNGO BRIDGE - 10*
Bridge was good in possession tonight. There were a few nervy moments when he was dispossessed on the odd occasion but he more than made up for that with a string of sliding challenges to thwart the likes of Salah and Mane. The kid with the dreadlocks must be pinching himself after the night he’s had. Brilliant.

*CALLUM ROWE - 10*
The left-back was Villa’s oldest squad member at 21. Rowe’s not long back from a devastating knee injury which has kept him out for 12 months. Was Villa’s weak link early on but he soon settled into it and grew in stature which was evident when he pinched the ball in midfield before brilliantly sliding in Louie Barry for his equaliser.

*KAINE HAYDEN-KESLER - 10*
Hayden-Kesler has tasted first-team involvement before after making the bench at Everton during Project Restart. He’s highly thought of at Villa and played on the right of midfield. The England under-19 right-back was great and forced the issue whenever he got forward to put Liverpool left-back and Villa hero James Milner under pressure.

*MOHAMMED SYLLA - 10*
Villa’s dogged defensive midfielder was superb. The Barcelona-born Guinea native put himself about and launched into challenges for the claret and blue cause. His positioning was text-book as well as he refused to get dragged out of position.

*LAMARE BOGARDE - 10*
The 16-year-old has been making waves for Villa’s academy after his summer arrival from Feyenoord, so much so that he’s already been fast-tracked from the 18s to the 23s. Did well in the middle today up against Henderson and Curtis Jones. Stuck to his task well before being brought off for Hayden Lindley with 25 to go. Bogarde has got a huge future, make no mistake about that.

*ARJAN RAIKHY - 10*
I thought Raikhy was excellent. Pinched possession off Liverpool on numerous occasions to start attacks and worked tirelessly for the team. A proper No8 this kid is who’s still playing for Villa’s under-18s. A proud night for him and his family, that’s for sure. The teenager’s got a great future in the game.

*BEN CHRISENE - 10*
Really like this kid. Chrisene was signed by Exeter in the summer amid interest from the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. He’s really calm on the ball and is Gareth Barry-esque in his approach; tidy, neat in possession and a good left foot. Chrisene was one of two 16-year-old’s in the starting XI.

*LOUIE BARRY - 10**
Had to wait 15 minutes for his first touch when the ball ricocheted off him. Barry ran his heart out and rinsed Minamino down the right side before delivering a dangerous ball. He was just warming up at that stage and he soon got his chance and didn’t he take it well. It was Rowe with the ball in and Barry got his body between him, the ball and Rhys Williams before sprinting forward and finishing cool as you like. The hype’s real with this kid who’s one of the best finishers at the club. What a moment for the boyhood Villa fan who lived his dream tonight.

*BRAD YOUNG (on for Chrisene, 60) - 10*
The Villa youngster has scored for fun for the under-18s and has seven goals from nine fixtures for Sean Verity’s teenagers. Came on to play on the left-hand side in the second half and put in a shift. Showcased a bit of flair as well when he twirled past Shaqiri.

*HARRISON SOHNA (on for Raikhy, 65) - 10*
One of two brothers at the club, Harrison came on and played in the heart of Villa’s midfield.

*HAYDEN LINDLEY (on for Bogarde, 65) - 10*
The 18-year-old came on and played in midfield and was up against Thiago Alcantara.

*SIL SWINKELS (on for Walker, 75) - 10*
Another European addition from the summer following his move from Vitesse Arnhem. Swinkles is a natural centre-back but came on at left-back to do a job and had Shaqiri to deal with.

*EDWARD ROWE (on for C.Rowe, 75) - 10*
The pint-sized 17-year-old came on at right-midfield and did a job between Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
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