A first-half double from Harry Wilson ensured Liverpool U23s maintained their 100 per cent start to the Premier League 2 season with a 2-0 win over West Ham United on Monday.
Neil Critchley’s side travelled to Dagenham looking to record a fifth consecutive league victory – and they duly did just that in impressive fashion, despite the absence of the likes of Danny Ings, Ben Woodburn and Marko Grujic ahead of the first team’s game at Leicester City on Tuesday.
Wilson struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at the Chigwell Construction Stadium – his first a low drive from the edge of the area and his second a neat finish to round off a delightful team move – before Kamil Grabara made a brilliant penalty save to preserve Liverpool’s lead before the break.
Herbie Kane and the lively Rhian Brewster both went close to extending the young Reds’ advantage and West Ham goalkeeper Nathan Trott made two excellent stops to prevent Wilson from completing his hat-trick in the second half.
But that mattered little, as Liverpool – who play Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Friday evening – continued their perfect opening to the campaign.
The visitors took the game to their hosts right from the first whistle and Ovie Ejaria forced the Hammers’ ‘keeper into a save with just 11 seconds on the clock.
Brewster raced onto Matty Virtue’s lofted throughball and unselfishly pulled back to the onrushing Ejaria, whose low shot was palmed away by Trott.
But the young Reds didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring through Wilson.
Trott initially made a fine save to deny Brewster but, after Ejaria and Cameron Brannagan kept the ball alive from Wilson’s corner, the young Welshman cut in on his left foot and rifled a shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
And nine minutes later, Wilson had his second when he finished coolly after linking up with Brewster to devastating effect as part of a sweeping Liverpool move.
West Ham were offered a route back into the game almost immediately when Conor Masterson conceded a penalty, but Grabara kept Liverpool’s two-goal lead intact with a stunning save low to his right from Toni Martinez’s spot-kick.
Critchley’s team could have taken full advantage of that reprieve in first-half stoppage time, but Kane blazed over the bar after being set up by Wilson.
Liverpool twice went close to extending their advantage early in the second half, with Brewster flashing a powerful left-footed drive narrowly wide and Wilson being denied his third by Trott’s fingertip save after an eye-catching dribble.
And Trott again got down well to thwart another Wilson attempt and then made a sprawling save to claw away substitute Yan Dhanda’s effort in stoppage time as the young Reds eased to a comfortable win.
Liverpool: Grabara, Whelan, Phillips, Masterson, Johnston (Juanma), Virtue, Brannagan (Dhanda), Kane, Ejaria, Wilson, Brewster (Adekanye).
Unused subs: Kelleher, Jones.