PRESTON 0-2 LIVERPOOL: Second half goals from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi proved enough as the Reds overcame a stubborn Championship outfit to reach the last eight
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Liverpool didn’t have things all their own way at Preston North End in the Carabao Cup, but they ultimately overcame the determined efforts of the Championship outfit.
A much-changed Reds side could have found themselves behind in the first period as Preston carved out decent openings, only for third-choice stopper Adrian to make a smart stop before Neco Williams impressively cleared off the line.
Welsh international Williams moved further forward in the second period, and it was his cross that was turned home by Takumi Minamino for the opener, before a clever flick from Divock Origi made it two late on.
Here what would have pleased Klopp most about the evening.
1. Tyler Morton steps up in midfield… and he needed to
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Thiago, Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Fabinho are all out injured for varying amounts of time, Naby Keita is still looking at the bruise he sustained from Paul Pogba’s challenge on Sunday and Jordan Henderson was never going to be risked here due to recent wear and tear, so Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the last two first-team midfielders left standing for Liverpool at Preston.
Both of those two prefer a more attacking outlook on the game, and so it was left to young Tyler Morton to be the defensive-minded presence in the Reds’ engine room.
The teenager had performed the same duty in the second half at Norwich in the last round after an experiment with Jones in the No.6 position hadn’t exactly gone smoothly, and just as he was then, he was good now.
Morton showed a coolness on the ball that belied his years, and you could see how he has benefitted from training with the first-team as far back as pre-season.
In an area of the pitch Liverpool are short in, he’s got a chance.
2. Neco Williams continues to show his versatility
There was a time when he was first breaking into the first-team picture that Klopp tried to turn Williams into a full-back who could do a job for him on both sides.
Covering for both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson would of course be invaluable in one player, but one chasing the young Welshman got from Tariq Lamptey at Brighton his spells on the left soon ended – even though he has still played there for his country.
Here he was used in an attacking right-sided spot when right-back Conor Bradley was brought on for the eager but green Harvey Blair in the second half, pushing foward soon creating the opening goal for Minamino.
Williams is still raw, but he’s clearly a player Klopp and Liverpool are happy to keep around, and his versatility is one of the main reasons for that.
3. The League Cup forwards strike again
Just as at Norwich in the last round it was Minamino and Origi who did the damage for Liverpool, the latter somewhat spectacularly as he flicked home from close range.
The pair would clearly both like to be getting more minutes than they currently are, but with dead rubber Champions League group stage matches potentially on the horizon – and the crucially those matches in the African Nations Cup that will see Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane unavailable – it is important for the Reds that they stay in scoring form.