Liverpool sealed their progression to the knockout stages of the NextGen Series with a 4-1 win over Inter on Tuesday evening.
Conor Coady opened the scoring from the spot after a foul on Ryan McLaughlin, before Samed Yesil capitalised on a defensive slip to make it 2-0 with just 30 minutes gone.
Inter threatened a comeback in the second half when Marko Benassi netted, but their hopes lasted just minutes as Yesil scored again before Coady also completed a double with another spot-kick.
Knowing his side needed a result in order to reach the knockout stages, Liverpool coach Alex Inglethorpe named an attacking line-up, with forwards Krisztian Adorjan and Marc Pelosi deployed in unfamiliar midfield roles behind a front three of Yesil, Jordan Ibe and Jerome Sinclair. Conversely, Inter rang the changes, with their progression as group winners all but secured barring a heavy defeat.
The Reds’ nervousness undoubtedly contributed to a scrappy opening period, with both teams struggling for rhythm in an untidy middle battle. Adorjan was soon forced to evidence his willingness to get involved in the defensive side of the game, however, as his last-ditch tackle in the box prevented Inter capitalising on a loose backpass when a goal looked certain.
That scare appeared to bring the hosts to life, and they were soon handed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Ryan McLaughlin was felled in the box by Ferrara after a mazy run.
Captain Coady stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way – though the confident nature of the finish was hardly in-keeping with the 30 minutes which had preceded it.
However, things were about to get a lot more comfortable for the Reds, as Lorenzo Paramatti’s sloppy backpass allowed Yesil in one-on-one. The German had struggled to get on the ball for large periods of the game but showed all his quality by rounding the goalkeeper and gently side-footing home to give his side a two-goal advantage before the break.
The Reds had largely continued to hold the Italians at arm’s length after play had resumed but gave them a lifeline they barely deserved with an hour gone. Ryan Fulton failed to claim a corner from the left and saw the ball fired back past him by Benassi after further defensive confusion.
That goal could have made the night tricky for the hosts but they restored their cushion moments later thanks to brilliant work from Ibe. The winger cut across the pitch from the left before playing in McLaughlin, who laid on a tap-in for Yesil in the six-yard box.
The brilliant McLaughlin was then involved yet again as he won a penalty thanks to a clumsy challenge from Giovanni Zaro late on, and Coady stepped up to take the honours for a second time, giving the scoreline a deserved gloss.