Caoimhin Kelleher

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Liverpool flies 3 youngsters to Qatar after Aston Villa loss

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Liverpool has two games in two days that are 3,300 miles apart. To cope with the scheduling mess, Jurgen Klopp split his squad and sent a youth team to Villa Park for the the Carabao Cup game while the senior squad made its way to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

Three players will be there for both, however.

21-year-old goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher plus 17-year-old defenders Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg have been called in to the senior squad as cover, making the lengthy trip soon after the 5-0 defeat to Villa in Cup play to complete the 23-man Liverpool squad in Doha.

The Cup game against a Villa side starting a host of experienced senior players was always a tall task, but now the Liverpool trio has the opportunity to provide cover for the senior side that is struggling with injuries in certain areas. Most notably, center-back is thin for the Reds with both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren injured. Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are starting for the club in both games they have on the docket in Qatar, but should either of them suffer an injury, Dutch pair Hoever and van den Berg would be next up.

Kelleher and van den Berg started and played the full 90 minutes in the Aston Villa loss, while Hoever was also in the starting lineup but withdrawn after 82 minutes for James Norris. The scoreline was harsh on the Liverpool kids who played well at times but saw the first two goals fall quickly – one coming via a brutal deflection, chalked up as an own-goal – and things compounded from there as Liverpool pushed forward hoping to produce a stunning comeback.

Kodjia, Villa too much for Liverpool’s kids

Liverpool Aston Villa League Cup Kodjia
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Liverpool’s kids didn’t wilt against Premier League side Aston Villa in a League Cup quarterfinal at Villa Park, but were punished on the scoreboard.

The difference was clinical finishing in a 5-0 score line, as Liverpool fudged its first half chances in front of goal. The Reds youngsters saw Villa keeper Orjan Nyland make eight saves on the day.

The Reds trailed by four at halftime despite a 4-3 edge in shots on target.

Wesley Moraes scored Villa’s only goal.

VIlla will enter the semifinal draw with the winners of three Wednesday quarterfinals. Man City visits Oxford United, Manchester United hosts Colchester United, and Leicester City heads to Everton.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Put in an unsavory position when Jurgen Klopp opted to bring nearly every healthy player with first team experience to Qatar for the Club World Cup, Liverpool’s kids were lively out of the gate. They showed their understandable immaturity on the stage in lacking the final ball over the first dozen minutes.

That’s when Villa took a bit of control and Hourihane spun his free kick into the goal, Jonathan Kodjia leaping to kick but missing a redirection bid to throw off keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

Henri Lansbury prodded an own goal for 2-0 when his cross was deflected to fool Kelleher, who clawed backward but couldn’t find the ball before it looped into the side netting.

Harvey Elliott showed his style with a delightful little chipped pass that Curtis Jones used to force a save out of Orjan Nyland. Elliott was very good on the day, with 90 percent passing and a shot on target. Captain for the day Pedro Chirivella also made a good impression.

It was 3-0 when Kodjia blazed past the Liverpool back line to slide a pass beyond the reach of a splayed Kelleher. The Ivorian added a goal before halftime.

That first 45 saw shots on target in favor of Liverpool by just 4-3. Problem is all of the on-target Villa attempts plus the o.g. went in the Reds goal.

Kelleher made a great save on Kodjia’s 60th minute hat trick bid.

Klopp hails Liverpool kids in game to ‘remember forever’

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We’re sure there are players who wouldn’t enjoy playing under Jurgen Klopp, but don’t count us in that group.

Liverpool’s manager summed up his attitude after his Reds came back from a 4-2 deficit to beat Arsenal in penalty kicks following a 5-5 score line after regulation in the League Cup.

“If you don’t win nobody remembers it in three years, if it works out the boys will remember it forever,” he said.

[ MORE: Match recap | GK hero reacts ]

Klopp put his faith deep in his squad for Wednesday’s unreal thriller, and was brimming with pride after several youngsters lifted Liverpool into the next round.

Caoimhin Kelleher stood tall to make the decisive penalty despite allowing five goals in his first senior start at Anfield, while 18-year-olds Curtis Jones and Neco Williams played big roles in the comeback. Jones scored the final penalty in the shootout, and Williams assisted on Origi’s stoppage time equalizer.

More from Klopp, via the BBC:

“Kelleher is an outstanding talent,” Klopp said. “The crossing from Williams, he might not thought he would play tonight. Jones… it was not my decision in the end for him to take the last penalty. When I saw the list Origi was the taker of the last one and they changed it obviously.

“We can talk about tactics but who cares on a night like this? I hoped for the boys they would have a game to remember. What they did tonight, I lost it really.”

Look at the photo above: That’s pure joy from Klopp. You might not love his touch line antics, but he loves the game for what it is and what it delivers. Respect.

Liverpool is onto the quarterfinals, where it will meet one of Manchester City, Everton, Manchester United, Colchester United, Oxford United, Leicester City, or Aston Villa.

Kelleher reacts to decisive penalty save in Liverpool-Arsenal thriller

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Caoimhin Kelleher‘s first senior start for Liverpool didn’t give him much to do, but his second was a whopper.

Kelleher was under siege over 90 minutes in a 5-5 thriller with Arsenal in the League Cup before making the only save of the shootout, denying Dani Ceballos to put the Reds in the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Liverpool 5-5 (5-4 pens) Arsenal ]

The character needed to stand tall after allowing five goals at home is immense, and the 20-year-old Kelleher found it in him to make the decisive play of the day.

“I’ve done a lot of work with the keeper coach on saving penalties,” Kelleher said. “It was a crazy game to be a keeper, I didn’t have time to blink. It’s what dreams are made of, winning a shootout in front of the Kop. The atmosphere was amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

What a moment for the youngster, and it will be interesting to see whether Jurgen KIopp makes him his goalkeeper for the tournament now that the Reds are just three wins from silverware. Either way, he’ll have this night in his pocket for the rest of his life.

WATCH: Willock wonder goal in Liverpool-Arsenal thriller

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It takes something truly special to stand out from a game chock full of goals, and Arsenal’s Joe Willock had it.

The 20-year-old scored his seventh Arsenal goal on Wednesday in the Gunners’ League Cup tilt against Liverpool at Anfield, and it sure was pretty.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

With the match tied at 4 between two young, defense-optional sides, Willock went adventuring with a long dribble and daring shot which sent Caoimhin Kelleher back into his goal for a fifth time in just over an hour.