Jurgen Klopp finally registered his first win as Liverpool manager in a 1-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth in the League Cup fourth round.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss saw his side held to a draw in each of his first three matches in the Anfield hot seat but can now celebrate moving a step closer to a first piece of silverware.
With Chelsea and Arsenal having crashed out of the competition on Tuesday, Klopp may see a path to the final opening up, and it was Nathaniel Clyne’s first Liverpool goal that secured victory at Anfield on Wednesday.
The full-back was on hand to apply the finish after Joao Carlos Teixeira had seen the cheekiest of efforts cleared off the line in the 17th minute.
All of Bournemouth’s best chances fell to Junior Stanislas, who was unable to make any of them count as the visitors suffered a repeat of their 1-0 Premier League defeat at Anfield earlier in the season.
Klopp handed full debuts to Teixeira, Connor Randall and Cameron Brannagan as he made nine changes, while opposite number Eddie Howe brought in six new faces in a bid to pull off an upset that would have provided the perfect tonic following back-to-back 5-1 defeats in the Premier League.
Roberto Firmino sent the ball trickling wide of the Bournemouth goal in the opening 30 seconds, before Stanislas squandered a golden opportunity to break the deadlock at the other end.
The former West Ham forward was sent clean through on goal but was unable to find a way past Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, and Firmino very nearly punished that wasted chance, with Adam Federici touching over the Brazil international’s dipping 20-yard strike.
But it was not long before the hosts opened the scoring.
Teixeira saw an audacious flick cleared off the line by Adam Smith, but Clyne – one of the two players to keep their place in the Liverpool starting XI – made no mistake with the follow-up.
Goalkeeper Federici will not be in a hurry to view a replay – the Australian gave up on his hopes of reaching the ball after being beaten by Teixeira’s backheel, but might have stood a slim chance of making the save from Clyne had he remained alert to the developing situation.
Stanislas then saw a close-range header punched over by Bogdan as Bournemouth chased an immediate response, before Liverpool lost stand-in captain Kolo Toure to a hamstring injury, joining the likes of Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Jordan Henderson in what is becoming a crowded Anfield treatment room.
Stanislas continued to look the most likely source of a Bournemouth goal and stung the palms of Bogdan with a free-kick before the interval, and Shaun MacDonald headed wide when play resumed.
Firmino failed to punish a defensive lapse when he dragged just wide shortly before the hour mark and, although Lucas Leiva and Teixeira saw late efforts kept out by Federici, Liverpool’s progression rarely looked in doubt during the second half – Matt Ritchie coming closest for the visitors when he drew a save from Bogdan in stoppage time.