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Spurs U21s overcome Liverpool at Anfield

Tottenham's almost unstoppable U21 side enjoyed an easier game than most experience in front of the Kop today, battling their way to a convincing 3-1 victory.

Laurence Griffiths

From the off, Spurs executed a highly effective pressing game and managed to find enough time and space on the ball to keep the upper hand in an open game, presumably frustrating their ex-manager and current Liverpool U21 coach Alex Inglethorpe no end. An early goal looked likely as chances were seen at both ends and the scoring was opened on the 23rd minute when the always-lively Christian Ceballos whipped in a cross that Peter Gulasci could only turn into his own net. Tottenham's fledglings then added to their tally in the 51st minute with an excellent team move when Veljkovic played a beautiful defence-splitting ball from midfield out to Barthram who centred the ball for Coulthirst, who held it up well then released it back to Barthram to whip in a great cross which Ceballos nodded home.

From this point Liverpool regrouped and began to force their way back into the game, with the side's attacking efforts benefitting visibly from the shifting of Nacho Huertas Ortiz into more of an advanced role and the graft of Joao Carlos Teixeira. Spurs' defence was finally breached in the 69th minute when Adam Morgan rounded Laurence Vigouroux and shimmied away from two attempted tackles to tap into the open net. Liverpool continued to press for an equalizer, repeatedly exploiting Spurs' high line to slip Morgan through, though their efforts were finally rendered futile in the 87th minute when Roman Michael-Percil won possession and instigated an attack that culminated in Kenneth McEvoy thrashing home the last goal of the tie.

But for the profligacy of Coulthirst in a number of promising situations, Spurs could actually have put the game out of sight much earlier on a number of occasions, most prominently when McEvoy sprinted the pitched and slipped a wonderful ball inside for the centre forward, only to see his shot skied over the bar. Coulthirst enjoyed excellent service all day but lapsed into snatching at his chances throughout the day, though his holdup play and tenacity were invaluable as ever.

In terms of other individual performances, Vigouroux did an excellent job of replicating Hugo Lloris' sweeper-keeper game, bailing his defence out when the side's offside trap repeatedly faultered in the second half and making a wonderful save near the end of the game to prevent a nervier finish. Nabil Bentaleb demonstrated the standard of classy possession-recycling that we've come to expect from him at this point, and McEvoy impressed again with his industrious wing play. The key man on the day for me, however, was Milos Veljkovic, who was repurposed again as a centre midfielder today and showed more than the requisite level of vision and comfort on the ball to suit the role, ultimately serving as the heart of most of the side's positive movement.

Though Spurs' young side made some excellent progress at the start of this term under Inglethorpe's guidance, they demonstrated to their old coach in person that his presence hasn't slowed their momentum at all as they rumble on with another big step towards U21 League glory.