Ben Woodburn breaks Liverpool record in EFL win

FILE PHOTO: Ben Woodburn wheels away after scoring his first goal for the Reds
Ben Woodburn wheels away after scoring his first goal for the Reds
Ben Woodburn wheels away after scoring his first goal for the Reds

Teenager Ben Woodburn eclipsed Michael Owen as Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer as the Reds edged past Championship side Leeds United in the EFL Cup quarter-finals at Anfield.

The Premier League hosts huffed and puffed before Divock Origi stole behind the Leeds defence to sweep in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing cross from close range.

They secured a place in the last four when Wales Under-19 international Woodburn, aged 17 years and 45 days, fired in the second.

Liverpool hit the post through Georginio Wijnaldum shortly before the opener, but the scoreline was somewhat harsh on the Yorkshire side.

Deal of the day

Leeds winger Kemar Roofe curled against the inside of a post shortly after half-time.

Hadi Sacko spurned a good opportunity for the visitors in the opening 10 minutes, and Kyle Bartley nodded a free header wide after the break.

Liverpool will find out who they play in the semi-finals when the draw is made after Wednesday’s matches.

Woodburn’s bright in Liverpool struggle

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp might have claimed his team has “unfinished business” in the EFL Cup, but this competition is clearly not the German’s priority this season as the Reds chase the Premier League title and a Champions League return.

And that has been clear by his team selections.

Klopp, like he did in the earlier rounds, rotated his team by bringing in fringe players and a handful of youngsters, though that was forced in part by the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana through injury.

Without that attacking threat, the home side lacked fluency and potency in the final third until they clicked in the final 15 minutes to reach a record 17th League Cup semi-final.

However, a laboured night was capped when Woodburn – on as a second-half substitute having made his debut on Saturday against Sunderland – beat Owen’s record by 98 days.

It was a special moment for the youngster in front of the Kop and former England striker Owen, who was watching from the main stand.

Every one of Woodburn’s outfield team-mates came to celebrate the historic moment as Anfield saluted their latest star.

Leeds’ taste of the past

Matches between these two clubs may be rare in the modern era – but this is a fixture steeped in history.

A rivalry born in the days of Bill Shankly and Don Revie, resurrected in the eras of Kenny Dalglish and Howard Wilkinson, consigned to longer memories post-Gerard Houllier and David O’Leary.

And it attracted the imagination of both sets of fans, Leeds bringing almost 5,500 to a capacity crowd of 53,000.

While this tie did not have the allure of a title-swinging league match or Wembley cup final of previous eras, it did provide an opportunity for Leeds to test themselves again at the highest level.

Following a turbulent few seasons under Italian owner Massimo Cellino, there is a cautious optimism among Whites fans that their club may – finally – push for promotion back to the Premier League this season.

Manager Garry Monk has provided a calm guidance rarely seen – or allowed – under Cellino’s control, moving the club up to fifth in the Championship after four wins in their past five matches.

The odds were stacked heavily in favour of the home side prior to kick-off, but the visitors created several decent opportunities against a casual Reds defence.

Ultimately, they lost with a fight. But the reception given by the away fans to their players at the final whistle suggests they are optimistic a 13-year absence from the Premier League may be coming to an end in the near future.

BBC Sport