Aston Villa youngsters were resilient but they eventually conceded 4-1 for Liverpool to advance to the FA Cup fourth round.
Following a Covid outbreak in their first-team squad, Villa were forced to field an Under-23 side, and Sadio Mane headed the Premier League champions in front inside four minutes.
But Louie Barry equalised (41) memorably on the stroke of half-time to spark hopes of a fairy-tale result for Mark Delaney’s young team.
Liverpool’s superior quality told, however, as three quickfire second-half strikes from Georginio Wijnaldum (60), Mane (63) and Mohamed Salah (65) ensured there would be no stunning upset.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to BT Sport: “First of all we have to say that the kids did really well. So that’s good.
“We scored a nice goal but from that moment on we didn’t pass with the right speed. We had football problems and we solved them in the second half with football.
“We had too many players on the wrong side of the ball. It was a bit of a rusty start but in the second half it was exactly how we wanted it.”
Aston Villa boss Mark Delaney to BT Sport: “We are all very proud as a club, as coaches and players. That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through.
“We deserved to go in at 1-1. It was a good goal. We knew they’d have a lot of ball and the potential of conceding early goals. We reacted very well and stuck together. We didn’t give them too much territory.
“We thought maybe one or two bits of quality and we might get something and we did. Three or four passes and a lovely through ball. We know Louie Barry is a goal scorer and he took it ever so well. We see it every day. To do it on this stage against a quality team, he showed real composure.
“We are a very young group in the 23s. We do concede early goals sometimes. We showed a togetherness.”
Aston Villa are set to face Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday January 13. However, there are doubts as to whether the game will go ahead after the coronavirus outbreak in the Villa first-team squad.