Aston Villa have done themselves proud in a 4-1 defeat to Liverpool.
Due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Villa first-team, the Premier League side were forced to field a starting XI comprised entirely of youth players for their FA Cup third-round tie on Friday night.
It was an eerie role reversal of a similar situation that happened between the two sides in 2019 when Liverpool played their youth team for a Carabao Cup game due to fixture congestion.
Liverpool take the lead
But while the Reds' team of youngsters drew a blank on that occasion, slumping to an emphatic 5-0 defeat, the same accusation can't be laid at the feet of Mark Delaney's band of prodigies.
That's because the unlikely home line-up, comprised of seven U23 and four U18 players, managed to fight their way to a staggering scoreline of 1-1 after the first 45 minutes.
It was a feat all the more surprising because Sadio Mane had actually fired a near-full-strength Reds squad into the lead after just three minutes, heading home from a Curtis Jones cross.
Aston Villa shock the world
However, the heroic Villans held strong to avoid what could have been a first-half massacre with young shot-stopper Akos Onodi thwarting the Premier League champions with a double save.
And that kept Villa in the game long enough for them to exploit a poor defensive error from the visitors, allowing Louie Barry to race through on goal and find the net with a one-on-one finish.
You could see just what it meant to the 17-year-old, who recently played in the Barcelona academy, as he wheeled away in celebration and ensured that Liverpool were held back at the break.
Liverpool take control
Now, although it's impossible to say with certainty, you'd like to imagine that Klopp unleashed hell upon his team in the dressing room - and there was certainly a reaction from his multi-million squad.
And if it wasn't for the linesman's flag, the Villa dream might have died within a few minutes of the restart, but they could breathe a sigh of relief as Mohamed Salah's finish was chalked off.
Sadly, though, the respite was short-lived as Liverpool finally bagged their second of the night to burst open the floodgates with Georginio Wijnaldum slotting home a fine right-footed finish.
Villa do themselves proud
Combine that with Klopp turning to his bench to introduce Robert Firmino and Xherdan Shaqiri after Thiago Alcantara's half-time arrival - and you have a pretty bleak outlook for young Villa.
And the results were immediate with Liverpool lengthening their stride into a 4-1 lead with Mane bagging his second of the night, before Salah ironed a zipping finish past Onodi's grasp.
From that point onwards, credit to Villa, because they held the fort fantastically for the final half an hour and although they couldn't secure progression, they certainly did themselves proud.
For a team with an average age of 18 years and 294 days, average shirt number of 55 and all making their senior debuts, you can't ask for much more against the Premier League winners.News Now - Sport News