Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ Europa League gamble almost paid off as the club’s young guns were held to a 1-1 draw in Bordeaux.
Adam Lallana’s brilliant-but-simple goal midway through the second half was the highlight of a dogged display but was cancelled out by substitute Jussie nine minutes from time.
However, it was the performance of the club’s next generation which caught the eye.
Rodgers made eight changes from the defeat by Manchester United at the weekend – leaving six regulars at home – and after less than half an hour there was another alteration as Kolo Toure was forced off with a leg injury inflicted by his own goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
On the positive side it presented a debut to academy graduate Pedro Chirivella and brought the average age of the side down to 21.7 with 18-year-olds Joe Gomez, Jordan Rossiter and Chirivella, alongside Jordon Ibe (19) and Divock Origi (20).
But it was asking a lot for a team of such inexperience to produce a dominating performance and great responsibility lay on the shoulders of fit-again Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, who drilled one shot from distance against the post late in the first half. Liverpool had a greater degree of control in the second half and they went ahead when Lallana’s deft touch nutmegged Pablo and teed up a first-time finish inside the far post.
Substitute Danny Ings almost made it 2-0 with a carbon copy effort only to be denied by the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso and Jussie’s late equaliser was the sucker punch.