The “extraordinarily bad” failings of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield caused the deaths of 96 “wholly innocent” Liverpool fans, his trial has heard.
Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Duckenfield failed to quickly declare a major incident or enact emergency measures to free trapped supporters as the disaster unfolded, Preston Crown Court was told on Tuesday.
Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said there may have been “an extraordinary series of collective and personal failures” by many – if not all – of those planning and managing the match against Nottingham Forest.
But, he said, Duckenfield had the “ultimate responsibility” as match commander to those who died as a result of “the wholly innocent activity of attending a football match as a spectator”.
“Each died as a result of the extraordinarily bad failures by David Duckenfield in the care he took to discharge his personal responsibility on that fateful day,” Mr Matthews said, opening his case.
He said 94 of the 96 succumbed to their injuries on the fateful day, while 14-year-old Lee Nicol died two days later and Tony Bland suffered “terrible brain damage” and was in a permanent vegetative state until March 1993 when died.
Because of the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for Mr Bland’s death as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.
Mr Matthews said: “Sadly, there were also many collective and individual failures to intervene effectively once the disaster unfolded.
“Not least through the failure of anyone in a position to do so, Mr Duckenfield included, to declare the situation a ‘major incident’ in good time, to put in place emergency measures to release those trapped and to organise and provide emergency medical attention, particularly attempts at resuscitation.”
He continued: “It is the prosecution’s case that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.”
The retired officer, who wore a dark suit with a shirt and tie, went on trial alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.
Mackrell, 69, denies contravening the stadium’s safety certificate and a health and safety offence.
The fans died as a result of the crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of the Sheffield Wednesday ground on April 15 1989.
Retired officer Duckenfield, who wore a dark suit with a shirt and tie, was on trial alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.
Mackrell “effectively shrugged off all responsibility” for important aspects of his role as safety officer, Mr Matthews said.
At the very least Mackrell turned a “blind eye” to the conditions of the club’s safety certificate by failing to agree with police the methods of entry into the stadium, the prosecutor added.
Mackrell, 69, denies contravening the stadium’s safety certificate and failing to take reasonable care of the health and safety of others.
The trial continues.
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The Reds continued preparations for Saturday’s league clash with a morning session utilising both the indoor and outdoor facilities at the current senior base.
While Trent Alexander-Arnold joined the long list of absentees with a knee injury, and Gini Wijnaldum misses out with a knock that could keep him out at the weekend, a host of key names were involved.
Alisson, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri were all pictured, with all but one likely to start at Anfield.
Rhian Brewster was also present, as the 18-year-old undergoes an individual programme to aid him on his imminent return to full training.
Most interesting, however, was the sight of Liverpool U18s goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros among the group, with the 17-year-old making a rare appearance at Melwood.
With Caoimhin Kelleher starting for the U23s in their own 1-1 draw with Brighton on Monday night, Jaros was called up to flesh out Klopp’s ranks between the sticks.
This marks a big milestone for the young Czech, who joined Liverpool from Slavia Prague in a £300,000 deal in 2017, after impressing on trial.
Jaros swiftly established himself as bona fide first choice for the U18s, with Dan Atherton and Ben Williams serving as backup, while Oscar Kelly operates as deputy to him at U19 level.
So far this season, he has made 19 appearances across the two youth groups, including an ever-present run in the UEFA Youth League, and also starred for a young side en route to Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup success earlier this month.
In Germany, he was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, with U18s manager Barry Lewtas describing it as “a nice reward for the progress he is making under [goalkeeping coach] Neil Edwards.”
He signed his first professional contract with Liverpool shortly after his 17th birthday last July, and along with Kelleher and Kamil Grabara represents a bright future in goal for the club’s academy.
While his shot-stopping ability, command of the penalty area and bright distribution are particularly impressive, Jaros has also caught the eye for his intelligence and willingness to learn off the field.
The teenager showcased this in explaining why he was learning Spanish alongside English following his move to Merseyside, in an interview with CTK in October.
“Spanish boys come to England for trials, and most of the local boys do not speak Spanish,” he said.
“And because I know how difficult it is to go abroad and not speak the local language while everyone is looking at you, I want to know how to help them.”
He added, then, that when given the chance to train with the first team he would look to Alisson, and “definitely watch him and try to learn something.”
The hope will be that, like their young apprentice, both Alisson and Mignolet will impart some wisdom during Jaros’ time with the first team.
Preparations for Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace were under way at Melwood on Tuesday morning as Liverpool undertook their latest training session.
The Reds were being put through their paces by Jürgen Klopp and his backroom team as they gear up for the weekend visit of the Eagles to Anfield.
Our photographers were granted exclusive access to the club’s training ground to capture the images below.
The team are photographed in the new white colourway of the official 2018-19 New Balance training range, available to buy at liverpoolfc.com/store from 9am GMT on January 18.
Photos by John and Andrew Powell
Liverpool FC's Red Neighbours programme is encouraging local residents to attend its chair-based yoga sessions.
Aimed at participants looking for an introduction to physical activity, chair-based yoga is a gentle form of the exercise, practiced sitting on a seat or standing using the chair for support.
Current attendees range from 50 to 92 years old, but the sessions are open to people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
Classes take place every month in the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand at Anfield. There are two opportunities to get involved during January - on Wednesday 16 and Wednesday 23, with both sessions starting at 11am.
Chair-based yoga supports two of the key areas of focus for Red Neighbours: engaging with the elderly community and encouraging a physically active community.
For more information on Red Neighbours' sessions and activities, follow @Red_Neighbours on Twitter.
Last Updated: 15/01/19 1:09pmLiverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold injured his knee against Brighton
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is likely to be out for at least two weeks with a knee injury, Sky Sports News understands.
The England full-back hurt his knee in the warm-up ahead of last weekend's 1-0 win at Brighton but played the full 90 minutes, only for the ligament damage to have become apparent after the match.
It is understood surgery is not required and the 20-year-old's return date is down to healing time, but Liverpool will not take any chances and are closely monitoring the player's fitness.
Georginio Wijnaldum is a doubt to face Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday after also taking a knock to his knee and will be assessed on a day-to-day basis.Georginio Wijnaldum is a doubt to face Crystal Palace
Joe Gomez is still working his way back to fitness after a broken foot and right-back Nathaniel Clyne has been loaned to Bournemouth earlier this month, leaving manager Jurgen Klopp short of options at full-back.
Midfielder Fabinho played centre-back for Liverpool's win over Brighton because Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are not fully fit.
Matip was an unused substitute at the Amex Stadium after recovering from a broken collarbone, while Gomez has yet to return to full training.
Rafael Camacho, 18, made his first-team debut at right-back in the FA Cup defeat at Wolves and is likely to be on the bench again.
Fellow academy player Ki-Jana Hoever also made his debut at Wolves at centre-back, the 16-year-old becoming the third-youngest player in the club's history.
The Netherlands youth international was since sent off in Liverpool under-23's 1-1 draw with Brighton in Premier League 2 competition.Play Super 6
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Alexander-Arnold will miss at least the next four games due to a knee injury picked up in the warmup for Saturday’s 1-0 win at Brighton, and aggravated throughout.
It seemed as though Jurgen Klopp‘s risk in allowing the 20-year-old to play through the pain had paid off as he lasted the full 90 minutes, but he is now facing his second lengthy spell out this season.
Though the Reds’ schedule is considerably lighter this time around, with Crystal Palace (Jan 19), Leicester (Jan 30), West Ham (Feb 4) and Bournemouth (Feb 9) to come before Alexander-Arnold’s comeback it remains a bitter blow.
Here’s how Liverpool supporters reacted to the news on social media.Many highlighted Clyne’s departure to Bournemouth as an oversight…
Loaning Clyne out looking even more silly now
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) January 15, 2019
I said loaning Clyne was a stupid move and got criticised for it. Gomez isn't fit yet and should be at CB. Fabinho should be in midfield not right back. Title challenge will rely on Milner or the inexperienced forward Camacho deputising at RB. https://t.co/TNoEI6YdSJ
— Taintless Red (@TaintlessRed) January 15, 2019
This is why I don’t understand why we let Nathaniel Clyne go? We now have to have a make shift right back for 4 weeks. Is it possible? Yes. Is it really annoying? Yes. https://t.co/uhqDNxBMrd
— – (@AnfieldRd96) January 15, 2019
“Its ok we have Clyne…oh wait, no we dont.”
– Arton Rrustemi on Facebook.
So silly letting Clyne go out on loan #TAA
— David Andrews (@albinodave97) January 15, 2019
Letting Clyne go…real smart lads
— Neil (@BurpleMan) January 15, 2019
Said it at the time, but we need to act more like a team going for the title. Clyne asking to go should have held 0 weight. Should have been told he can go in summer but for the rest of this season he was staying. Loaning him out was no help to us & that's all that should matter.
— Paolo (@Paul9H) January 15, 2019
I said letting Clyne go on loan was a mistake. In the title run in we’re in now he was too experienced to let go in case of the dreadful position we’re in now
— Robbieeeee (@KloppsLegion) January 15, 2019
Edwards is fantastic but two years in a row we've made a weird decision in January to loan a player out that doesn't seem to benefit us.
This year is Clyne, last year it was Sturridge.
— Dan Shepherd (@TheCarteI) January 15, 2019While the decision to start Trent was criticised…
Playing Trent after he was injured in the warm up is not looking too smart now. https://t.co/GmexgHa3pW
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) January 15, 2019
What’s mad about the Trent injury isn’t that we left Clyne go, it’s that trent picked it up in the warm up to the Brighton game and was aloud to continue playing through it for 90 mins despite Brighton not once attempting to get at our back line
— BirdyBirdLFC (@BirdyBirdLFC) January 15, 2019
“It was a bad decision to not bring him off though everyone knows playing injured no matter how severe an injury makes the problem worse and the player more injury prone.”
– Ryan Kenrey Speakman on Facebook.
Trent wasn't right before the game against Brighton. During first 20 he wanted to come off too. Odd risk. https://t.co/MWV3qnwiWB
— Scott (@scottdcuk) January 15, 2019
I love Klopp so much but why did he risk Trent? Milner for one game at right back and giving Trent the time to rest is a much better situation than the one we find ourselves in now. At least we have Clyne…..
— Tom (@WoodyYNWA) January 15, 2019However, some have taken a more rounded view of the situation…
Seriously, the Clyne takes are shocking. He started one game when the 3 ahead of him in RB pecking order were injured and once Milner was fit again, Clyne dropped out. You can't just keep players for freakish injury situations.
— Colin McBride (@colin_a_mcbride) January 15, 2019
Palace (H), Leicester (H), West Ham (A), Bournemouth (H).
The Clyne thing is annoying, but a combination of Milner/Fabinho/Gomez at RB should be enough to get through this next set of fixtures with a whole week's rest between games.
— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) January 15, 2019
“The only “lucky” thing about this is that our schedule for the next month is not so bad. Hopefully all of our defenders will be fit for the Bayern games.”
– Ngo Vu Hieu on Facebook.
Not fazed about TAA out for a month. James Milner will cover that position and when Gomez is back, he can cover there as well. Also have Fabinho and Camacho who can play that role. We have plenty of options, that’s why we loaned out Clyne.
— . (@VintageSalah) January 15, 2019
Loaning Clyne was fine given his position at the club and place in the pecking order but of course it looks much worse with Trent now injured. Always the way with these things, fate and bad luck conspires to exaggerate the decision.
— Dan McLaughlin (@Dan23_92) January 15, 2019
Even if Clyne was here, Klopp would still be reaching for the Milner card. Next 4 games spread across 4 weeks are Palace, Leicester, West Ham and Bournemouth. We should be fine.
— Anika (@AbedinOfficial) January 15, 2019
“Just to be clear. We have the Brazil national team right back in our squad Ffs. Stop panicking”
– Andrew Jamieson on Facebook.
Losing Trent is bad but not as bad as some are making out. We have like 3 games, 2 of which are at home in the next 4 weeks with lots of recovery time and we have our players coming back. #LFC
— Simon Bray (@SimonBrayLFC) January 15, 2019
To be fair, James Milner will do us an absolute solid at right back in Trent's absence. One more injury to a defender, though, and we're in deep trouble. #LFC
— Scott Groom (@ScottCGroom) January 15, 2019
The Trent injury isn't ideal but we have more than enough quality in the squad to cope.
With Gini a doubt for Palace, it would be a great time for Keita to start to show the ability we all know he has #LFC
— Jamie Holme (@JamieHolme) January 15, 2019And one unlikely solution was presented!
People losing their shit about a lack of cover for Trent at right-back with Clyne gone.
Never fear…… pic.twitter.com/BSf5bUtSy4
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) January 15, 2019
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out for a month with a knee injury, having played through the pain during Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Brighton on Saturday.
The right-back pulled up after stepping awkwardly on the ball during warmup at the Amex, but was given the all-clear by medical staff to start regardless.
He visibly struggled in the opening stages, as Liverpool looked to limit his time on the ball and James Milner kept himself prepared on the touchline, with Alexander-Arnold in regular talks with a physio.
But he lasted the 90 minutes, and while it initially looked to have paid off for Jurgen Klopp, the 20-year-old is now the latest defender to be sidelined.
According to the Times, Alexander-Arnold has suffered a “tweak of the ligaments” which is expected to keep him out for up to a month.
Liverpool’s next game is against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday, with Alexander-Arnold’s current return date likely to see him back in contention for the Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich on February 19.
He has helped keep 13 clean sheets in 22 games in the Premier League, and conceded just 17 goals in 28 games in all competitions, providing a solid backbone alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
While his saves are crucial, his progressive outlook and influence off the pitch are clearly just as important, as Milner told the Liverpool FC Magazine this month.
“I think maybe one you could select is Alisson,” he said, when asked his Player of the Season so far.
“Coming to a new league is never easy. It’s a new lifestyle and you are also getting used to the weather and things like that.
“But he’s been unbelievable: from how he is around the place, to how good he is on the pitch with his feet and with the saves he makes.
“Every single player makes mistakes and sometimes as a ‘keeper you maybe feel a bit different because mistakes often result in a goal.
“But if he makes a mistake it doesn’t faze him in the slightest and he remains confident and continues playing as if nothing has happened. That’s so important.
“He’s been unbelievable for us this season so far and I believe that he’ll be a massive, massive player for us going forward.”
Alisson‘s on-field contribution is obvious, and the Brazilian is a significant upgrade on Karius, whose big potential as a goalkeeper is seemingly outweighed by issues with consistency.
But more interesting is Milner attesting to “how he is around the place,” with the addition of the 26-year-old giving a previously shrinking Liverpool squad another leader.
He and Van Dijk have become a vocal presence in the squad, as Klopp told the Liverpool Echo last month, explaining how “in a shit dressing room there is no chance [for success].”
“When the music is loud and people are shouting it is Milly and Hendo. Now Virg starts too, even Ali throws in a few words,” he said.
“It is always the same players, whether they play or don’t play, their job never changes.”
Unlike Milner and Jordan Henderson, Alisson starts every important game—only sitting out of the defeats in the FA Cup and League Cup so far this season—which further compounds the vice-captain’s praise.
With Gini Wijnaldum voted ‘fourth captain’ earlier this season, and the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah also praised for their leadership, Liverpool’s increasing mental strength is distinct.
Virgil van Dijk celebrated his 50th game for Liverpool by achieving one of his favourite things: a clean sheet.
The Netherlands captain reached the appearance landmark last weekend, a little over a year after completing his move to the Reds from Southampton.
And what an impressive run it has been for Van Dijk on a personal level, the Liverpool defence as a unit, and Jürgen Klopp’s team as a collective.
The No.4’s influence on the side is plain to see – but digging into the numbers behind his half-century paints an even more telling picture of his impact at Anfield so far.
With help from Opta, here are five of the most eye-catching statistics from Van Dijk’s first 50 matches for the club…
24 clean sheets
Saturday’s shutout at Brighton and Hove Albion was the 24th recorded by the Reds with Van Dijk in the team, meaning the Dutchman’s ratio since joining the club is almost one in two.
Surprisingly, it didn’t quite start that way for the towering defender.
While Van Dijk began his Liverpool career in fairy tale fashion with a winner at the Kop end in a Merseyside derby, he had to wait until his fifth game to chalk up a clean sheet – against his former club, Saints.
But, since then, they have become second nature, particularly in the current season, when there have been 13 in 22 Premier League fixtures to date to help the Reds control top spot.
“I love clean sheets,” he remarked earlier this term. You can tell.
Liverpool’s formidable defensive platform – just 10 goals conceded in the Premier League so far this season – has been pivotal to a significantly higher win rate in 2018-19.
Klopp’s men have been victorious 18 times in 22 league matches, with Van Dijk involved for all but 35 minutes of the campaign, providing a reliable presence as injuries have affected several of his defensive colleagues.
Overall, the No.4 has won 33 of his 50 Reds outings in all competitions – including a dozen Champions League appearances – with seven draws and 10 defeats.
71.69 per cent duel success
No outfield Liverpool player can better Van Dijk’s success percentage in duels in his 50 games so far, the 27-year-old having won 71.69 per cent of the 445 he has contested.
In the same period, he also leads the team for clearances (272), interceptions (59) and blocks (21).
“He has outstanding potential,” said Klopp last week. “He is a fantastic person, he is physically strong and has all the technical things you need as a centre-half.
“So many things were already good and many things he can still improve. That’s the situation.”
The Reds’ tendency to command the largest share of possession in the majority of their games means Van Dijk sees plenty of the ball each time he features.
Indeed, in the period of his first 50 appearances, no Liverpool player attempted more passes than his 3,643 – of which 88.64 per cent were accurate.
Just last Saturday at Brighton, for example, he clocked up 131 passes to keep the league leaders on the front foot in the search for – and, later, defence of – the decisive strike from Mohamed Salah.
Fortress Anfield for 918 minutes
Klopp’s side established the club’s second-longest run ever without conceding a league goal at Anfield during 2018.
There were 918 minutes between the respective consolation efforts from Michail Antonio for West Ham United in February and Callum Paterson for Cardiff City in October.
The constant presence in that group effort was Van Dijk, who was the only member of the back five to start each of the games that made up the run.
Alisson Becker's ability to shake off errors has helped the Liverpool goalkeeper enjoy an 'unbelievable' debut season so far, according to James Milner.
The Brazil international claimed his 13th clean sheet of the Premier League campaign last Saturday as the Reds consolidated top spot with a 1-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Alisson’s opening months on Merseyside have been notable for his assurance and confidence, both in possession and when called on to deny opponents as the last line of defence.
But Milner has been especially impressed by the No.13’s temperament on the rare occasions when he has made a mistake so far – an attribute the vice-captain considers vital.
Asked about the standout performers of Liverpool’s season, Milner said in the new edition of the official Liverpool FC magazine: “It’s hard to pick out one player because everyone in the squad has done so well, not just the 11 who are starting.
“We have made a lot of changes during games and a number of players have come in and done really well.
“I think maybe one you could select is Alisson. Coming to a new league is never easy. It’s a new lifestyle and you are also getting used to the weather and things like that, but he’s been unbelievable: from how he is around the place, to how good he is on the pitch with his feet and with the saves he makes.
“Every single player makes mistakes and sometimes as a ‘keeper you maybe feel a bit different because mistakes often result in a goal, but if he makes a mistake it doesn’t faze him in the slightest and he remains confident and continues playing as if nothing has happened. That’s so important.
“He’s been unbelievable for us this season so far and I believe that he’ll be a massive, massive player for us going forward.”
Neil Critchley praised his Liverpool U23s side for a battling display against Brighton and Hove Albion that he felt merited more than a 1-1 draw.
The young Reds took the lead in the Premier League 2 clash at the Academy when Rafael Camacho neatly slotted home on 12 minutes.
But their celebrations were cut short by a harsh red card for Ki-Jana Hoever midway through the first half and, despite stubborn resistance after that setback, Brighton snatched a point in the final moments.
Read Critchley’s assessment of the encounter below…
On how the game panned out…
I thought we were magnificent tonight. We started the game unbelievably well, scored, were the dominant team, and looked as though we were going to score again. And then a somewhat baffling decision has changed the game. Even with 10 men, it looked like an even game; our goalkeeper has had very little to do, maybe the odd shot from outside the box. Their ‘keeper has had more to do than ours. Some of the football we played, our organisation and work ethic, was outstanding. If there was any justice then we would have won that game.
On Hoever’s red card…
It was a baffling decision, to say the least. The referee had a yellow card in his hand and had given a free-kick outside the box, which it was – it was a clear foul and a booking. George Johnston is there to defend. The linesman got involved and changed the decision. That changed the whole complexion of the game. Hopefully we can get that overturned.
On Liverpool’s determination with 10 men…
I thought we were terrific, I really did. We have got some really good characters, good ability, we played with intelligence without the ball. We defended very well for most of the time; they were going to have some possession and crosses coming in, but I didn’t feel our goal was under great threat. But you know when it’s 1-0 and you’re down to 10 men, there’s always a chance that can happen – a cross like that and we just didn’t defend it well enough. But I thought our play, in possession as well with a man down, was brilliant. We controlled a lot of periods of the game, we were always dangerous on the counter-attack and had some chances. We deserved to win the game.
On recovering for the weekend meeting with West Bromwich Albion…
The lads have put a real shift in tonight and we’ll have to recover and make sure we do it properly, then prepare for West Brom. We need to win a game in that competition to qualify – that’s what we’ll aim to do on Sunday.
Premier League 2, Kirkby
January 14, 2019
Goals: Camacho 12′, Roberts 86′
Sent-off: Hoever 21′
Paul Glatzel earned a place on the substitutes’ bench, but strike partner Bobby Duncan was not in the squad.
Jones had the first attempt on target, but the midfielder’s attempted curler was tipped over the bar by Hugo Keto.
Brighton threatened at the other end, but Kelleher displayed his calmness to prevent an opener for the visitors.
Camacho fired Liverpool in front in the 12th minute, profiting from some slack defending by the Seagulls before finding the bottom corner.
It was his ninth goal of an increasingly productive season, with the Portuguese youth international playing on the right side of a front three, rather than at full-back where he debuted for the senior side.
Aaron Connolly just missed the target as Brighton looked for an immediate response, in what was a lively encounter at Liverpool’s academy.
Hoever was sent-off in ridiculously unfair fashion midway through the first half, when a yellow card would even have been harsh for bringing down Connolly.
The 16-year-old was clearly upset about the decision, and rightly so.
Hoever’s dismissal clearly affected the Reds’ momentum, although Pedro Chirivella did test Keto with a well-struck effort.
Kelleher got away with a clearance being charged down and then got down well to keep out Max Sanders, while Chirivella and Camacho both curled wide.
It was a half full of entertainment and controversy.
Substitute Viktor Gyokeres fired just wide straight after the restart and Camacho rattled the woodwork with a deflected strike from a tight angle.
Liam Millar couldn’t quite pounce on a lovely cross by Adam Lewis, as the 10-man Reds continued to give a good account of themselves.
The excellent Jones, playing from the left, was thwarted by Keto after a silky run and Warren O’Hora saw his strike fly inches over the crossbar for Brighton.
Haydn Roberts broke Liverpool hearts with just four minutes remaining, heading home unmarked to earn his side a point.
Liverpool U23s now sit in fifth place in the Premier League 2.
TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher, Whelan, Hoever, Johnston, Lewis, Chirivella, Randall (Masterson 59′), Christie-Davies, Camacho, Jones, Millar.
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Juanma, Coyle, Glatzel.
Liverpool U23s had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the Academy despite leading for the majority of the game with 10 men.
Rafael Camacho’s clinical early finish opened the scoring in a Premier League 2 clash punctuated by the harsh dismissal of the Reds’ Ki-Jana Hoever midway through the first half.
Neil Critchley’s side dug deep to keep Brighton out for long periods but their pressure told four minutes from time, when Haydon Roberts headed home to snatch a point.
Curtis Jones warned the visitors of Liverpool’s intentions with a dipping, seventh-minute drive from the left edge of the area that Brighton goalkeeper Hugo Keto carefully touched over the crossbar.
But the hosts clinched the breakthrough soon after.
The away team squandered possession in their own territory and Camacho delivered the maximum punishment when the ball came to him in a central position.
The Portugal youth international, who made his senior debut for the club a week ago, settled himself 20 yards out and threaded a precise left-footer into the bottom right corner for 1-0.
Brighton threatened a rapid response on the quarter-hour, with the young Reds relieved to see a neat passing routine end with Aaron Connolly’s curler going wide of the post.
Liverpool’s momentum was unexpectedly halted when Hoever was sent off in the 21st minute.
The defender was guilty of a foul on Connolly at the edge of the box as the forward ran through but with George Johnston still blocking his route to goal, the home team were aggrieved by the straight red card shown by the referee.
Not that they allowed the disappointment to influence their performance; Pedro Chirivella sent strikes at the ‘keeper and narrowly wide respectively, either side of a Max Sanders hit well saved by Caoimhin Kelleher.
And Camacho powered a free-kick, won when the Liverpool No.10 was clumsily felled by Warren O’Hora, just off target before the break.
Brighton introduced Viktor Gyokeres at the outset of the second half and the substitute might have claimed an equaliser within 60 seconds of the action’s resumption.
Having cut inside and threaded a finish from right to left, though, he watched the ball spin wide.
Camacho went even closer with a similar piece of individual skill at the other end on 48 minutes. The 18-year-old scooped Adam Lewis’ pass into the area, turned past Roberts and cracked a curler off the upright.
Jones drew a decent save from Keto after a clever solo dribble as the game continued to flow evenly despite Liverpool’s numerical deficit.
As the minutes ticked away, O’Hora fired over the crossbar when a Brighton corner from the right caused a scramble and the ball fell kindly.
And just when it looked as though Critchley’s charges would successfully preserve their advantage, Roberts met a superb Alex Cochrane cross from the left wing with a rising header beyond the reach of Kelleher to salvage a draw.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher, Whelan, Lewis, Hoever, Johnston, Chirivella, Randall (Masterson, 59), Christie-Davies, Millar, Camacho, Jones.
Unused substitutes: McKenzie-Lyle, Juanma, Coyle, Glatzel.