Scottish striker Jack Harper got on the scoresheet for Real Madrid’s youngsters as they beat Liverpool 4-1 in the UEFA Youth League in the Spanish capital on Tuesday afternoon to leave the young Reds’progression in the balance.
Harper, 18, who was born in Spain to Scottish parents and has been part of the youth set-up with the Spanish giants since the age of 13, fired the hosts ahead with 18 minutes left after Cameron Brannagan had the visitors on level terms with a neat low finish six minutes before half-time. Cristian had given Madrid the lead with an impressive free-kick just seven minutes in and goals from Borja Mayoral, from the penalty spot, and Lazo sealed the points for the hosts.
The goal was Harper’s third goal in as many starts in the competition as he continued his impressive form in European competition. He made his debut in Madrid’s opener against Basel and marked it with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory. He also scored in Madrid’s 3-2 defeat against Liverpool in Merseyside last time out but his latest strike helped his team to three points and the brink of progression to the knockout stages.
Liverpool will now be looking for victories against Ludogorets in Bulgaria at the end of the month and at home against Basel in their final group match in December to ensure their progression to the knockout stages. They were tied on six points alongside Madrid and Basel going into the match at Valdebebas.
The hosts had the best of the early chances and were rewarded when Cristiano curled in a sublime free-kick to break the deadlock.
Liverpool fought their way back into the contest, however, and went into the interval on level terms thanks to Brannagan’s cool low finish with the outside of his foot that beat Madrid goalkeeper David Oliveros, who had early denied an an ambitious Harper lob.
Neil Critchley’s young Reds came out firing in the second half and Jerome Sinclair, who has first-team experience, fired a Harry Wilson cross over from close range. Wilson then had a chance of his own minutes later but Oliveros produced another impressive save.
Madrid substitute Lazo saw a powerful effort come back off the inside of the post but the hosts went better ten minutes later when Harper steered home a cross after Corey Whelan conceded possession when trying to shepherd the ball out. Mayoral’s penalty sealed the win and Lazo added a fourth to make the scoreline an emphatic one in favour of the hosts.
Real Madrid: Oliveros, Tejero (c), Luismi, Lienhart, Jean Carlos, B. Mayoral, Merchan, Febas, Cristian, Javier S., Harper. Subs: Molina, Lazo, Dani Fernandez, Reguilon, Montavez, Garci, Marcos.
Liverpool: Fulton, Whelan, Maguire, Cleary, Brewitt, Rossiter (c), Brannagan, Wilson, Sinclair, Kent, O’Hanlon. Subs: Canos, Firth, Oju, Marsh, Dhanda, Arnold, Kane.
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