LIVERPOOL eased into the last 16 of the League Cup as Jürgen Klopp’s side showed off their goalscoring dominance with a 3-0 win at Derby County.
Ragnar Klavan, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi were all on the scoresheet as the Reds took their tally to 19 goals in seven matches this season — adding to their already impressive goalscoring record in 2016.
This was the fourth time they have scored three or more this season and Klavan was their 10th different scorer at this early stage of the campaign, highlighting the work Klopp has done in terms of strengthening the team not just in manpower but in terms of options available.
In two cup games this season The Reds have racked up eight goals, albeit against Championship sides, but nevertheless the kind of sides Liverpool have all-too-often struggled against in recent years.
The return of Roberto Firmino, who sat out the win at Chelsea with a minor groin problem, highlighted how crucial he is in the final third as his link-up play, especially with fellow Brazilian Coutinho, and ability to run into the spaces was once again savoured by the travelling Kop.
Goalkeeper Loris Karius made his debut as one of seven changes from Friday’s win at Chelsea but, even with no Daniel Sturridge in the squad, it was by no means a weak-looking side.
Klopp insists he does not have a number one goalkeeper but Karius, signed from Mainz for £4.7million, does wear the number one shirt and last night looked like his first steps in replacing Simon Mignolet long term.
In truth, the manager would not have learned much as, apart from late on in the first half when the German reacted quickly to dash out of his area to dispossess Darren Bent, Karius was untroubled. Though it was his confidence, and charisma, that would have impressed the fans who travelled to the East Midlands.
The German did show aptitude and great composure with the ball at his feet, something Mignolet simply does not, but it was further up the pitch where that was displayed best midway in the first 45, and throughout the game in truth.
The Derby defence made a hash of trying to clear Coutinho’s corner and Klavan reacted quickest to stab home from close range, an occurrence unexpected this soon into his Liverpool career, if at all.
Liverpool’s half-time lead should have been greater as Derby stood off their opponents and conceded large amounts of territory, allowing the away side to get their combinations going.
Derby’s goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell, with good saves from Origi from close range and Coutinho from distance, kept the Rams in with a sniff. That was until five minutes after the break.
Firmino played an exquisitely-weighted return pass to his Brazilian team-mate whose low finish effectively ended the game as a contest, and gave Liverpool the goal their dominance richly deserved.
The game was completely put to bed five minutes later when Divock Origi smashed home a similar effort to his second of three against Southampton in last year’s competition from Coutinho’s through-ball after Firmino won the ball back pressing the Derby defenders, who were at sixes and sevens for most of the game.
Derby’s stopper Mitchell continued to do his best, denying Firmino from close range, but with the game already beyond any doubt Klopp sent on Danny Ings — the striker getting a good reception on his first competitive appearance of the season — and handed a debut to the highly promising Ovie Ejaria, a further show of the depth currently at Liverpool.
Derby could offer up no threat to Liverpool’s goal, and so it was the Reds who progressed to the next round with more goals in the bag and a pleasing clean sheet on the road. Momentum maintained.
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