Liverpool U21s bowed out of the Barclays U21 Premier League Cup at the semi-final stage after a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against West Ham United at the Rush Green Stadium on Wednesday night.

In a hectic extra-time finish, Stephen Hendrie secured the Hammers’ place in the final with the winning goal, just seconds after Sheyi Ojo looked to have forced a penalty shootout for 10-man Liverpool.

Marcus Browne had put the hosts 2-1 up in the 105th minute of the game and any hopes of the young Reds levelling seemed slim when Martin Skrtel was given his marching orders for picking up two yellow cards in the extra half-hour of play.

However, Ojo sparked jubilant celebrations among the travelling contingent when he made it 2-2 - but their joy was to be sadly short-lived.

Pedro Chirivella had opened the scoring in the tie when the Spaniard capped off an excellent move to find the back of the net in the 10th minute with an accurate finish, before Doneil Henry equalised for the hosts 53 minutes in.

With Hull City awaiting the winners in the final, going into the game Michael Beale was able to field another extremely strong side.

Jon Flanagan started at left-back for the young Reds, there was a return for Joao Carlos Teixeira and also in the XI was the in-form Ojo - fresh from his call-up to the England U19s squad.

Beale was dealt a blow right before kick-off, though, as Jerome Sinclair picked up an injury during the warm-up and had to be replaced by Ryan McLaughlin.

But regardless of the last-minute changes to the side, Liverpool started the game well and found themselves ahead with only 10 minutes on the clock following a well-worked move.

After a classy one-two with Ryan Kent, Chirivella received the ball just outside the penalty area and applied a cool side-footed finish into the corner of Raphael Spiegel’s net to give the Reds an early advantage.

The momentum carried with the visitors and they were unfortunate to not find themselves two goals up, four minutes after the deadlock had been broken.

Cameron Brannagan squared for Kent in the box and just as it looked destined to be another goal, Spiegel pulled off a brave save to keep Liverpool at bay.

The affair then became scrappy as the first half petered out. The Reds were in control, while the Hammers struggled to muster a shot on goal.

McLaughlin then hit the side-netting at the conclusion of neat play down the right before the referee blew for the half-time interval.

Liverpool made just a single change at the break as Sam Hart replaced Flanagan at full-back.

And it was a different story at the start of the second half. The hosts flew out of the blocks and levelled things up eight minutes after the restart.

In the moments following Adam Bogdan’s brilliant save to deny Moses Makasi, defender Henry reacted quickest from the resulting corner and fired the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-1.

West Ham had the wind in their sails. Browne should have given his side the lead but the forward poked his shot wide of the post, much to the encouragement of Liverpool, who began to reassert themselves in the contest after the escape.

Ojo then did brilliantly on the right wing to deliver a cross, where Kent was ever so close to getting on the end of it and heading goalwards - and the possibility of extra-time loomed.

It was almost not needed but Teixeira squandered a wonderful chance in front of goal. The Portuguese midfielder latched onto an upfield punt and only had Spiegel to beat but the 23-year-old was indecisive in the area and took too much time before the goalkeeper intervened.

Extra-time saw both sides have chances to grab a winning goal. Substitute Hart came very close with a thumping effort that rattled the crossbar and had the ‘keeper well beaten.

Browne then did convert his opportunity in front of goal and made it 2-1 with an assured finish. The referee waved away suggestions that George Dobson was in an offside position and interfered with Bogdan’s view.

And Liverpool’s task of forcing penalties grew more difficult when they were reduced to 10 men as Skrtel picked up his second yellow card of the evening.

Despite being a man down, McLaughlin then played through Ojo and the 18-year-old dinked over the onrushing goalkeeper to quickly level it up.

However, the young Reds had their hearts broken just a matter of seconds later. Full-back Hendrie drilled the ball into the top corner to book the Hammers’ spot in the final.

Browne was then sent off late on but Liverpool could not find a way to break down the stern wall of West Ham, much to their disappointment.

Liverpool U21s: Bogdan, Randall (O’Hanlon 90), Flanagan (Hart 45), Skrtel, Maguire, Chirivella (M Gomes 105), Teixeira, Brannagan, McLaughlin, Kent, Ojo.