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#U21 #PL2 #MatchReport #Liverpool

Under-21s march on after shoot-out success against Liverpool

Spurs 3-3 Liverpool (AET, Spurs win 5-4 on penalties, Premier League 2 play-offs)

Sun 12 May 2024, 22:10|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-21s dug deep again to keep their memorable season alive on all fronts - this time beating Liverpool on penalties in the quarter-finals of the Premier League 2 play-offs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday evening.

Having scored twice in added time to beat Forest 4-3 and reach the Premier League Cup Final on 2 May, then beating Villa by the same scoreline in extra time in the last 16 of the play-offs on Monday, Wayne Burnett's team kept their nerve from the spot in the shoot-out with all five takers - Nile John, Will Lankshear, Tyrese Hall, George Abbott and Jude Soonsup-Bell - successful, while goalkeeper Luca Gunter made the decisive save to deny James Norris down to his left.

Jamie Donley scored a wonderful goal from 40 yards and Hall scored his first two goals at this level as we came from 1-0 down to lead 3-1 two minutes into the second half. However, Liverpool recovered with goals on 72 and 82 minutes to take the game to extra time. We came closest to a winner in the additional 30 minutes before the perfect penalty shoot-out saw us home.

Winners in the league phase of the competition, Premier League Cup finalists - we take on Fulham in the final at Craven Cottage on Thursday evening - we will now face Chelsea at home in the semi-finals of the play-offs. Details of that tie will follow in due course.

Liverpool started brightly and took the lead on 11 minutes. Trey Nyoni fed Norris on the overlap left side and his low cross was turned home by Lewis Koumas. Gunter made saves either side of that goal, but we started to find our feet and Hall and Yago Santiago missed the target with half-chances.

We levelled on 26 minutes with a goal of beauty. Donley won possession from Nyoni 40 yards out, spotted that Fabian Mrozek was off his line and without hesitation, let fly, drilling the ball over the goalkeeper and home, exquisite.

The next 20 minutes were our best over the 120. Mrozek denied Hall and Donley before a flowing move saw John find Donley in the pocket, he rolled in to Hall who clipped over Mrozek and home for 2-1. Gunter saved brilliantly from Nyoni before John warmed Mrozek's hands with a fizzer and Hall curled on target, this one much easier for the keeper.

It took two minutes for us to make it 3-1 in the second half, another picture perfect goal as John crossed to the far post and Will Lankshear nodded back for Hall to volley into the top corner from 12 yards.

Donley then struck the underside of the crossbar as we threatened to put the game to bed, but there was a warning on 55 minutes as Gunter tipped over from Norris. Gunter's pass out was then intercepted by Koumas, who tried to replicate Donley's goal but aimed a yard wide.

Donley, who picked up a knock towards the end of the first half, departed on the hour and Liverpool started to push us back. They found a way back on 72 minutes when Josh Davidson's cross was turned into his own net by Dante Cassanova for 3-2 and 10 minutes later, it was 3-3, as Norris appeared to foul George Abbott, but play was waved on, Norris continued his run into the box and fired home across Gunter. Gunter was equal to late efforts from Morrison and Koumas as we went into extra time.

We lost influential defender Alfie Dorrington to injury at the start of the first period of extra time, Max Robson slotting into his position alongside Cassanova. Soonsup-Bell came closest in that period, firing just over from the right angle.

We were the team pushing for the win in the second period of extra time. Abbott's looping header was tipped over by Mrozek, Lankshear lifted over from the right angle and the last notable action saw Santiago's cross somehow evade Lankshear and Soonsup-Bell, both ready to tap home.

That meant penalties, and our five players delivered from the spot, scoring five out of five with Gunter's save from Norris making the difference.

Penalty shoot-out

Liverpool - Koumas - scored (0-1)
Spurs - John - scored (1-1)
Liverpool - Pilling - scored (1-2)
Spurs - Lankshear - scored (2-2)
Liverpool - Norris - saved by Gunter (2-2)
Spurs - Hall - scored (3-2)
Liverpool - Davidson - scored (3-3)
Spurs - Abbott - scored (4-3)
Liverpool - Morrison - scored (4-4)
Spurs - Soonsup-Bell - scored (5-4)

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

‘We’re pleased we’ve managed to come through it’

Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett told SPURSPLAY: “I thought it was a good team performance against a good Liverpool side. They’ve got some very good players but we kept going, I thought the players showed fantastic character and mentality and I’m very pleased that we could come through it in the end. It took us a while to get going, I thought they had the majority of the possession in the first 20 minutes but when we started to get going and took a hold on the game, Jamie scored a brilliant individual goal, then we got another, we probably should have had another just before the break but we went in at 2-1 and came out and got an early goal in the second half. We had a really good chance when we hit the bar, that could have made it 4-1, but they started to get some momentum, managed to get a second goal and then the third – I thought that was probably a foul on George Abbott but that happens and then obviously we went to extra time.

“Anything can happen in a penalty shootout. I spoke to the players about energy, keeping their nerve and they did that by scoring five penalties at the end of 120 minutes of football. They were all good penalties but even their penalty that was saved was a good penalty – I thought Luca made a fantastic save – but we’re pleased that we’ve managed to come through it.”

On Donley’s remarkable long-range goal, Wayne added: “Jamie is capable of that. Some people wouldn’t have even seen it, let alone been able to execute it and he’s done that. He’s been outstanding and when he came off I thought we lost a little bit of control, but it was a fantastic goal.”

Spurs 3-3 Liverpool (AET, Spurs win 5-4 on penalties, Premier League 2 play-offs)

Spurs: Gunter, Kyerematen (Ashcroft 85), King, Cassanova, Dorrington (Robson 94), Abbott (c), John, Hall, Lankshear, Donley (Soonsup-Bell 71), Santiago. Substitutes (not used): Keeley, Williams.

Liverpool: Mrozek, Miles (c), Norris, Nallo, Pinnington, Pilling, Morrison, Davidson, Koumas, Nyoni (Lucky 106), Laffey (Stephenson 71). Substitutes (not used): Kelly, Poytress, Spearing.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Donley 26, Hall 36, 47; Liverpool - Koumas 11, Cassanova (OG) 72, Norris 82.

Yellow cards: Spurs - King 70, Hall 83, Abbott 90, Robson 120; Liverpool - Nallo 87, Norris 90+4.

Referee: Reubyn Ricardo.

Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Weather: Warm, 23 degrees at kick-off.

Attendance: 1,180.