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Mark Critchley hails young Liverpool side despite Carabao Cup quarter-final thrashing by Aston Villa

Liverpool Under-23s coach Neil Critchley praised his young side despite suffering a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa to exit the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

A Jonathan Kodjia double added to Conor Hourihane’s opener and an own-goal from Morgan Boyes to give Villa a healthy 4-0 half-time lead, which was added to by Wesley’s second half injury-time goal.

Liverpool were without their entire first-team senior squad due to their participation in the Fifa Club World Cup, which sees Jurgen Klopp’s side take on Monterrey on Wednesday afternoon. It resulted in Critchley having to steer his young side with an average age of 19 years, six months and three days through the quarter-final clash, though despite the scoreline the academy coach believed they could leave Villa Park with their heads held high.

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"I thought they were magnificent from the first whistle," the 41-year-old Critchley said.

"At the start of the game we were fantastic. We were there from the first moment and unfortunate to concede from a free-kick, a cruel deflection and you find yourself 2-0 down.

"For long periods of the game I thought we were well in the game but we ran out of steam in the second half.

"It was an incredible night and I don't think any of us wanted it to end.

"They know this was part of their journey tonight. There will be ups and downs along the way but my overriding feeling is of immense pride."

Critchley also revealed that Villa boss Dean Smith and his assistant John Terry came into the Liverpool dressing room at the end of the match.

"They said how difficult we made it for them, that we have some good players and to keep going and good luck for the future," Critchley added.

Villa midfielder Hourihane was pleased to come through a "lose-lose" game on the winning side and book a semi-final berth.

"It was not easy. They are a young team and they would have been bang up for it but our quality came on in the end," he told Sky Sports.

"It was lose-lose as everyone expected us to win. All in all it's nice to get through. It's great to get into the semi-final. We'll see who we get."