They were given pre-match odds of 90-1 by some British bookmakers.

Some of them were dropped off at the stadium ahead of the game by their mothers and fathers.

A bunch of new jerseys needed to be printed before kickoff on Friday, adding rarely seen squad numbers up to 76 for the teenagers who, at late notice, were about to play for Aston Villa against the superstars of English champion Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Imagine the widespread disbelief, then, when Villa’s kids defied grim predictions by reaching halftime of the supposed third-round mismatch at 1-1 against the best team in the country, a lineup containing the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson.

As expected, Liverpool pulled clear in the second half, but there was little to really celebrate from the 4-1 win at an empty Villa Park.

Villa was plunged into the desperate situation following a coronavirus outbreak…

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