Neil Critchley could sense Curtis Jones was in a match-winning mood as the midfielder scored a superb late decider in Liverpool U23s’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Saturday.

After the young Reds recovered from a two-goal deficit, Jones completed the fightback with a brilliant solo effort four minutes from time at the Kirkby Academy.

Conor Gallagher had put Chelsea 2-0 ahead inside 28 minutes before Ben Woodburn netted from the penalty spot, with Abdi Sharif then levelling proceedings.

Read on for Critchley’s thoughts on the comeback, Jones’ goal and the performances of Woodburn and Sharif…

On Jones’ late intervention…

I think his last two performances – at Derby away and here – he’s shown really what he’s about as a player. He won the penalty with a lovely one-two and running forward with a good piece of skill. He was in front of me and there was a bit of a break in play and I said to Curtis, ‘Come on, I think you’re going to win us this game’. I just had a feeling – you could just tell he was in that mood. He twisted and turned and it was a rocket of a shot, beat the goalkeeper and it was a goal worthy of winning that type of game. I’m made up for Curtis because I think he’s been excellent in the last two appearances for the U23s.

On Woodburn grabbing a goal and assist…

I think Ben is getting better every game he plays – he looks fitter, sharper. He practises his penalties a lot and he wants to take them. It was a good penalty and then he put in a lovely ball for Abdi. Ben’s got undoubted quality. It’s just about getting him on the pitch and getting him games, which he’s getting at the moment. He’ll benefit from that.

On the fighting spirit of his side…

It’s one thing you should never question about this group – the character and the spirit amongst them, which has been evident all season. You can see that and sense that when you’re around them every day. After what was a horrendous start, the character and perseverance – as well as ability – has helped us to win the game. I’m delighted to win the game, I’m delighted with the character we showed. But it’s also a learning curve that you can’t start any game like that and chase 2-0 deficits. You’re not going to do that on too many occasions. We’ve managed to do that today and I think that’s great credit not just to our boys, but also the type of personalities we produce at the Academy.

On Sharif’s first goal at U23 level…

It was a late call-up. Unfortunately, Connor Randall had felt his hamstring and wasn’t passed fit this morning. Abdi was due to play with the U18s, but that’s the benefit of when we’re both at home. Abdi’s come straight into the team and I was really pleased with his performance. I think he’s coming on this season and showing real improvement, which is a credit to the staff around him. He’s got unbelievable stamina and he has to get into the box and get goals.

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