Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi continued their EFL Cup love affairs as Liverpool edged past Preston North End 2-0 at Deepdale on Wednesday.
Japan international Minamino made it five goals in four EFL Cup appearances before Origi scored for the 11th time in his 10th start in the competition with an impressively improvised backheel volley.
Having been fortunate not to go behind in the first half when Sean Maguire, Ryan Ledson and Brad Potts failed to take their chances, Minamino made the breakthrough for Liverpool in the 62nd minute.
The Premier League giants dominated possession throughout and were sure of a place in the quarter-finals for just the second time in five seasons after Origi somehow flicked the ball home with six minutes remaining.
Preston initially looked more dangerous despite seeing less of the ball and ought to have taken the lead in the 28th minute when they had three chances in rapid succession.
Adrian did brilliantly to deny Maguire from six yards after Joe Gomez was dispossessed, and Neco Williams’ goal-line clearance kept Ledson out on the follow-up. The rebound fell to Potts, but he sliced his attempt high and wide.
After wasting a chance at the start of the second half, there was no mistake from Minamino with his next opportunity as he stabbed in a cutback from Williams after a brilliant pass from Tyler Morton released the right-back.
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Kostas Tsimikas then rattled the crossbar with a deep cross and the ball fell to Williams, whose blocked shot sat up nicely for Origi to steer in a spectacular late second.
What does it mean? Differing displays for full debutants
Klopp handed a first senior appearance to Harvey Blair and a full debut to Morton as he made 11 changes from the 5-0 mauling of Manchester United in the Premier League at the weekend.
Blair was extremely quiet in the front three, getting just nine touches of the ball before making way for Conor Bradley in the 55th minute.
Morton, meanwhile, looked at home in the centre of midfield, spraying some lovely passes around – one of which was key to Minamino’s goal.
Making his first start since March having struggled with an ankle injury, Williams proved a difference-maker for the Reds. He made a crucial goal-line block in the first half and played a pivotal role in both Liverpool goals, though he was unable to take a late chance to get on the scoresheet himself.
Mixed bag for Van den Berg
Sepp van den Berg may be on loan at Preston from Liverpool, but he started in defence for the hosts and had a mixed outing. He gained possession 10 times, made four interceptions and two blocks – all of which were the most by a Preston player – but no other outfield team-mate gave the ball away more than him (13).
Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, with Preston entertaining Luton Town in the Championship on the same day.
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