Jurgen Klopp’s side were made to work for their passage through to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals against a resilient Preston North End side who put up quite the fight
Liverpool’s staggering unbeaten away run this term continued at the Deepdale Stadium as they brushed past Preston North Round in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Jurgen Klopp rung out the switches for the League Cup tie against the Championship outfit, making eleven changes from the Reds side that remarkably toppled Man Utd on Sunday.
The victory ensured the Reds have still not been beaten on their travels this term, despite deploying a new-look, young outfit against their Championship opponents.
A win at Preston means Liverpool have now gone their last nine away games without losing, winning eight in the process.
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The victors by no means had it their own way and had to wait until just after the hour mark to open the scoring.
Neco Williams avoided pressure from a number of Preston players before finding Takumi Minamino, who adjusted his feet perfectly to guide a deft finish beyond the despairing dive of Preston shot-stopper Declan Rudd.
The opener arguably came against the run of play, Preston enjoying the better of the chances for the opening sixty minutes – while the goal marked Liverpool’s first attempt on target all game.
Divock Origi ensured the best was saved until last as he pulled off an outrageous back-heeled lob from close range to ensure the Reds progression.
Here are the game’s main talking points as Liverpool march on in the Carabao Cup.
Divock Origi’s stunning back-heel
A cult hero among the Anfield faithful, Origi showed why as he contorted himself to deliver a stunning back-heeled lob over Declan Rudd.
Responding fastest to a loose aerial ball in the six-yard box, Origi left everyone in attendance slack jawed in amazement.
The Belgian’s stunning effort put the tie beyond any doubt as he enjoyed more success in a competition he often impresses in.
Origi has a number of stunning moments to look back on in a Liverpool shirt for a player who enjoyed at best a bit-part role, his goal tonight the latest in a line of memorable efforts.
An act of delightful inspiration and improvisation, Origi is a perfect example of how crucial back-up forwards can be to a side challenging on four fronts over the course of a lengthy season.
Preston’s intelligent approach
While the Deepdale faithful would have been dreaming of an upset win ever since this draw had been made, a victory always seemed a tall order.
Though they were eliminated in their efforts to reach the quarter-final, Preston made sure they did not go down without a fight.
Setting up to hurt their visitors on the counter-attack, Frankie McAvoy’s side begun to get some joy mid-way through the first half – most of their chances falling to the feet of Brad Potts, who was denied by Adrian on every occasion.
Sean Maguire’s effort from six-yards out was also thwarted by the Spanish shot-stopper, who kept Liverpool in the game during the first 45 minutes.
Klopp’s men were frustrated as Preston kept their shape under strict instruction from McAvoy who prowled his technical area throughout.
The hosts got more progressive as the game went on, not restricted to penalty box defending like many would have expected before they eventually caved just over an hour in.
A stellar return for Adrian in goal
The Spaniard was between the sticks for the Reds for the first time this season in the wake of current deputy Caoimhin Kelleher’s absence.
The Irishman fell ill last week and missed the spectacular 5-0 hammering of rivals Manchester United as a result.
Adrian upped sticks from East London to Anfield when he made the switch from West Ham two years ago, by which time he was deemed a reliable option to deputise for first-choice Alisson.
However, his reputation has taken a hit since the move after a string of errors while Liverpool ’s usual shot-stopper was side-lined with injury led to a decline in faith from manager Klopp.
Ultimately, Adrian proved he still has something to offer – making a stunning first-half save to deny Sean Maguire from putting the hosts in front from close-range.
The 34-year-old will be grateful for the minutes given he is likely to be named in the match-day squad for the home Premier League clash against Brighton on Saturday while Kelleher recovers.
Van den Berg up against parent side
Tonight’s contest marked the chance for a rarity in football nowadays – a player on loan for one side facing off against his parent club.
The player in question is Dutchman Sepp Van den Berg, signed by Liverpool in the summer of 2019 – the teenager has featured in this very competition for the Reds during his debut campaign.
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Impressed since arriving at the Deepdale in February of this year, Van den Berg has been playing under the watchful eye of Klopp – who has his own login to Preston’s streaming service to keep tabs on his player.
The German will have been impressed with what he saw, especially given the 19-year-old was operating as a wing-back – a position out of his comfort zone as a natural centre-half.
An impressive display for Tyler Morton
The 18-year-old midfielder put in an assured performance in the middle of the park against opposition instructed to be as physical as possible in a bid to throw the visitors off their game.
Constantly floating into half-spaces, Morton looked experienced beyond his years with a number of deft touches mixed with intelligent interceptions.
While not every pass found his intended target, Morton was progressive with every pass – coming close to an impressive assist as he found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a delightful through ball, though the ex-Arsenal man failed to bring it under control.
The holding midfielder very nearly carved Preston in two with a stunning diagonal pass to the boot of Conor Bradley, who also couldn’t take it in his stride.
Morton was one of two teenagers named in the starting eleven – though he fared significantly better than fellow youngster Harvey Blair, who struggled to have an impact as part of the Reds attacking force.