Aston Villa pummelled Liverpool 5-0 in the quarterfinal of the Carabao Cup to progress to the semifinal Tuesday night. Jonathan Kodjia scored a brace as Villa made the most of an inexperienced Liverpool side, the youngest ever fielded by the Reds, the average age of the team reading 19-and-a-half years.
Liverpool, who lead the Premier League standings with 49 points from 16 wins this season, looked to up the ante in the opening few minutes but hosts Villa opened the scoring through Conor Hurihane, whose free kick from the right edge of the box flew past goalkeeper Caomhin Kelleher in the 14th minute
Liverpool’s own goal gave Villa a 2-0 lead three minutes later after a kick from Ahmed Elmohamady ricocheted off Morgan Boyes and went over Kelleher’s head. An unstoppable Villa scored twice more before the half-time whistle blew with Kodjia getting the better of Liverpool goalkeeper twice to go into the break 4-0.
The young Liverpool players were an improved lot in the second half, creating a few chances but once again it were the hosts who struck two minutes into stoppage time with Wesley Moraes scoring the fifth and final goal of the night as Villa stormed into the semifinal.
“We had to be very professional. It was a bit of a weird game, probably the weirdest one I’ve been involved in for a quarterfinal of a major competition. They had technically gifted players, were tactically switched on and they made it very difficult for us at times,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.
With the 11 Liverpool players for a combined 16 first-team appearances between themselves, Under-23 boss Neil Critchley backed his players, believing they’d performed diligently and with a lot of heart.
“We were fantastic from the start, we had a couple of chances from the first whistle,” he said. “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.
“The conduct of the Villa players was first class. For Dean Smith and [assistant manager] John Terry to come into our dressing room after the game and say the things they said. They said ‘keep going, good luck’ and wished us the best.
“A moment I will remember and the players will remember for the rest of their lives.”