Manchester City and Liverpool have been the two standout senior English teams this season. Well, the two newly created rivals faced off in the FA Youth Cup final held at the Manchester City’s academy stadium.
Man City were dominant with the ball in the first half but were unable to create numerous clear cut chances. However, the one stand out Manchester City chance came on the brink of half time as Adrian Bernabe found Nabil Touaizi, and the striker finished neatly at the near post.
Liverpool could have scored earlier on in the first half when the Man City goalkeeper Louie Moulden gave the ball away from a goal kick. Fortunately, Taylor Harwood-Bellis was able to clear the ball off the line.
The second half started well for City as Ben Knight instantly had a chance to send the home side 2-0 up, but he was unable to convert.
They were dealt a blow as Eric Garcia had to go off injured, but it did not inhibit Man City creating more chances, the most notable being a volley from Ben Knight.
Liverpool were able to find an equaliser through Bobby Duncan but Louie Moulden made a mistake that Loris Karius would be proud of.
City dominated extra-time and were extremely unlucky not to be given a clear penalty late on into extra time. Unfortunately, they lost the penalty shoot-out.
Here’s how I rated the players:
GK: Louie Moulden - 5
Louie Moulden looked shaky in the first half when passing the ball and he gave it away in his own box. Had it not been for an excellent clearance from Taylor Harwood-Bellis, it would have been costly. However, Moulden made an even bigger mistake when he dropped the ball in his net in the 86th minute.
RB: Alpha Diounkou - 7
A very powerful right back and he worked effortlessly both defensively and offensively. He looked very good on the ball and very dangerous when he drove forward because he had so much power combined with flair.
CB: Eric Garcia - 7
He is a player that a few more football fans might recognise because he featured heavily in pre-season for the first team, and played against Leicester in the cup. He was excellent in the first half, calm in defence but dangerous when he brought the ball out from the back.
CB: Taylor Harwood-Bellis - 9 (MOTM)
Taylor Harwood-Bellis was fantastic who kept the dangerous Liverpool front three quiet, in particular Bobby Duncan, who did get a goal through a mistake. The clearance was the standout of his performance but Harwood-Bellis was always there when he needed to clear the ball or stop an attack.
LB: Jeremie Frimpong - 8
Despite not being a left back he put in a fantastic performance. What impressed me the most was the fact later on in the game he moved forward and played right wing. He had so much energy and did not stop running, it was a very impressive performance.
CDM: Rowan McDonald - 6
He was composed on the ball and looked to play Ben Knight through on many occasions, unfortunately not all of his passes came off.
CM: Tommy Doyle - 7
Tommy Doyle could potentially be a cult hero for Man City fans, as he is the grandson to two Man City legends, Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe. They were both defenders but Doyle plays more like Kevin De Bruyne, he is an exciting talent and took control of the game.
CM: Felix Nmecha - 6
Felix Nmecha is another player that has been involved with the first team this season. He was not a standout player but his presence was known as he glided past Liverpool players with ease at times.
RW: Ben Knight - 7
Ben Knight has been vocal in the press saying that he wants to be involved in Man City’s first team in the near future. That is by no means an easy task but there were signs that he could be a top talent as he created many scoring opportunities for himself.
LW: Adrian Bernabe - 7
Adrian Bernabe got minutes in pre-season and at times it showed why he is highly regarded at the club. He was a constant threat down the left and eventually one of his cut backs found Nabil Touaizi, who made it 1-0.
ST: Nabil Touaizi - 7
Nabil Touaizi comes with a strong reputation too from within youth football and in glimpses, he showed why. It seemed a simple finish to make it 1-0, but it was deceptively quick which meant the keeper could not prevent the ball from going in.
SUB: Fisayo Dele-Bashiru - 7 (60')
When he was brought on, he added a spark and energy to the Man City midfield. He was powerful and dynamic, just like the Man City right-back, he made many runs through the midfield and turned defence into attack brilliantly.
SUB: Nathanael Ogbeta - 6 (94')
He came on at left back and put in an assured performance in order to keep Liverpool out for the last 30 minutes.
SUB: Cole Palmer - 6 (17' ET)
The 16-year-old came on and looked very good technically, which is a given for a Man City player these days. However, he sadly missed the penalty but he looked very lively when he came on.
SUB: Henri Ogunby - N/A (26' ET)
No real time to mark.