Manchester City’s Under-19s booked their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League with a penalty shoot-out victory over Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool.
Curtis Jones’ opener was cancelled out by Lukas Nmecha late in the first half to leave the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes and the game went straight to spot-kicks.
Jones, Conor Masterson and Herbie Kane missed for Liverpool with only Ed Francis failing for City, who won 3-2 to set up a meeting with Barcelona’s youth team in Switzerland next month.
Of the players on show with first-team experience, City fielded Tom Dele-Bashiru and Lukas Nmecha, who were late substitutes in the Carabao Cup win over Leicester in December, while Liverpool were captained by Wales international Ben Woodburn.
Neither side managed a shot on target in the opening half-hour before a swift counter-attack produced the opening goal.
Liam Millar and Jones exchanged passes, with the former racing into the penalty area having run from 10 yards inside his own half, and Jones kept pace with him to control his team-mate’s cross and fire home for his fifth goal in eight matches in the competition.
The lead lasted five minutes as Masterson brought down Nmecha and the City captain exacted full revenge, with his free-kick taking a huge deflection off Woodburn to wrong-foot goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.
Either side of the break Masterson was denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw, while Nmecha should have scored from close range but bundled wide.
City increased the pressure with Grabara tipping Felix Nmecha’s shot around the post and, although Bobby Adekanye later forced Grimshaw to do the same, it eventually went to penalties and the home side prevailed.
“I’m gutted for the players,” said Gerrard.
“It’s a shame we’ve gone out on penalties because I had belief that if we could have got over the line today then we could have gone all the way. That’s the disappointing thing but I’m not disappointed in what they’ve gave today.”