Liverpool Under-19s coach Steven Gerrard was delighted with the way his side “dominated” Manchester United on their way to a 2-0 win in the UEFA Youth League.
Victory set up a quarter-final clash at Manchester City, who overcame Inter Milan on penalties on Tuesday.
Ben Woodburn, released from training with the first team, gave Liverpool the lead with a header from Neco Williams’ 11th-minute cross.
Despite creating a number of chances the home side had to weather a storm from the visitors – who included Angel Gomes and Ethan Hamilton, Paul Pogba’s replacement in Saturday’s first-team squad for the win at Huddersfield.
The closest former United midfielder Nicky Butt’s team came to an equaliser was when Tahith Chong crashed a shot against the crossbar, and substitute Rafael Camacho’s dipping left-footed strike from 25 yards made sure of Liverpool’s win with 13 minutes to go.
“All in all I think we have dominated them, dominated Manchester United today, and we have some very young players in the team so that was the pleasing thing for me,” said Gerrard.
“We killed them for 35 minutes and we should have got that second goal and we could have made the second half a lot more easy for ourselves.
“But Rafa coming on and creating that bit of magic certainly helped the team breathe towards the end of the game because we knew it was going to get tough.”
Gerrard’s side had lost their last four matches so the win was important.
“Coming up against an old (England) team-mate of mine, Nicky Butt, and the big rivalry which has gone on for many years makes the tie more juicy and there is a bit more edge and pressure around it,” added Gerrard.
“But that is why I am sitting here because I want that challenge. The reason I want that challenge is because I can’t go and find it myself as a player.”
United coach Butt admitted his side effectively lost the match in the first half.
“It was disappointing to go out, it was a good competition to stay in,” Butt said. “In the first half we were nowhere near it. They were a lot better than us, first to the ball, first to the second balls.
“We were too nice in the first half and we did not put too many challenges in. They won all the 50/50s and it was unacceptable. I told them that at half-time.
“In the second half we were a lot better and dominated the game. We had a lot of talent on the pitch and showed we are not a bad team but we got hit with a sucker-punch.”