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Liverpool boss Critchley: Youthful Reds were 'magnificent' despite 5-0 loss to Aston Villa

22:33 GMT 17/12/2019
Liverpool 2019-20
The visitors controlled the early stages of the game before being undone in a match where they fielded the club's youngest-ever side

Neil Critchley claimed his young Liverpool side were "magnificent" on Tuesday evening, despite falling 5-0 to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.

With Liverpool also taking part in the Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday in Qatar, the Reds sent a squad filled with youth-team players to Villa Park.

Critchley, the club's U23 manager, took charge with Jurgen Klopp away, and fielded Liverpool's youngest ever starting line-up, with an average age of just 19 years and 182 days.

Despite their youthfulness, the Reds came out of the blocks strong at Villa Park, creating a number of good chances before Conor Hourihane scored against the run of play to make it 1-0 Aston Villa in the 14th minute. 

An own goal from Liverpool defender Morgan Boyes followed three minutes later before Jonathan Kodjia scored a brace to make it 4-0 at half-time.

Wesley would add a fifth in second-half stoppage time, but Critchley told Sky Sports after the game that he was proud of the way a team devoid of any senior regulars performed against a full Premier League side.

"I thought we were magnificent," Critchley said. "We were fantastic from the start, we had a couple of chances from the first whistle. We were really unfortunate to concede and find ourselves 2-0 down.

"It was an incredible night and no one wanted it to end. The support we had was unbelievable.

"Some of them showed the potential to one day play for us, or in the Premier League. They will know it was just part of their journey. My overwhelming feeling was one of immense pride."

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and assistant John Terry visited Liverpool's dressing room after the game to offer the youngsters some words of encouragement, a gesture Critchley hugely appreciated.

"The conduct of the Villa players was first class," Critchley added. "For Dean Smith and John Terry to come in to our dressing room after the game and say the things they said. They said, 'keep going, good luck' and wished us the best.

"The moment I will remember and the players will remember for the rest of their lives."