September 25 (Goal) – Curtis Jones and Takumi Minamino struck braces as a much-changed Liverpool cruised past Lincoln City 7-2 in an entertaining EFL Cup third-round clash on Thursday.
Jurgen Klopp made 10 changes from the side that beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday, with only Virgil van Dijk keeping his place, but they still had more than enough firepower to swat aside their League One opponents.
Xherdan Shaqiri got the visitors on their way inside the opening 10 minutes, whipping a superb free-kick into the top-right corner, before a fine strike from Minamino and a double from Jones made it 4-0 at the break.
Minamino added a fifth immediately after the restart before Tayo Edun pulled one back for the Imps on the hour mark.
Marko Grujic and Lewis Montsma then exchanged quick-fire goals, while Divock Origi added a seventh late on as Liverpool – who handed Diogo Jota a debut from the substitutes’ bench in the second half – set up a fourth-round clash with Arsenal at Anfield next week.
Liverpool, who included debutants Rhys Williams and Konstantinos Tsimikas in their starting XI, wasted little time asserting their authority as Shaqiri registered his first goal since December 4 with a sublime free-kick from 22 yards in the ninth minute.
The Reds doubled their advantage after 18 minutes when a sloppy pass out from the back by Montsma found its way to Minamino, who sent a strike into Alex Palmer’s top-left corner from 20 yards.
Jones added a third shortly after the half-hour mark, curling home from inside the penalty area after being picked out by Origi’s downwards header.
The 19-year-old claimed his second just four minutes later when his effort from outside the area clipped off Timothy Eyoma and flew past Palmer.
Any thoughts that Klopp’s men would take it easy in the second period were extinguished after just 18 seconds when Minamino volleyed into an empty net after Harvey Elliott had been denied by Palmer.
The Imps started to pour forward in search of a consolation and it duly arrived on the hour mark when Edun coolly slotted past Adrian from inside the area.
Grujic plundered his first Liverpool goal from 20 yards in the 65th minute before Montsma took advantage of Adrian’s woeful goalkeeping to head home Lincoln’s second just a minute later.
Origi then wrapped up the scoring a minute from time when his strike from 15 yards slipped through the grasp of Palmer.
What does it mean? Klopp’s DNA all over rampant Reds
Liverpool’s all-conquering side have earned the moniker of ‘mentality monsters’ after their exploits over the past two seasons and it is clearly a trait that extends deep into Klopp’s squad, with the much-changed Premier League champions refusing to take it easy against their less illustrious opponents.
They were shaky at the back at times but looked scintillating in attack and, given they had 23 shots on goal, could easily have hit double figures.
Jones potential on full display
Plenty of Liverpool’s second string impressed but it was Jones who shone the brightest. In addition to his two goals, he was a dominant presence in the middle of the pitch, taking the most shots with five and enjoying a 91 per cent success rate with his passing.
Origi’s goal papers over poor display
Given Liverpool’s dominance, Origi should have provided much more of a goal threat before his late strike.
His goal came from just his third shot of the game, while his 10 completed passes was comfortably the lowest of any Liverpool player.
Key Opta Facts
– Since moving to Stoke City in August 2015, over half of Xherdan Shaqiri’s 23 goals in English football have come from outside the box (12), with this his first goal directly from a free-kick since May 2018 (Stoke v Crystal Palace).
– Liverpool are the first English top-flight side to score at least four times from outside the box in the same match since Manchester United beat Roma 7-1 back in April 2007 in the Champions League.
– Curtis Jones (19 years and 238 days) became the youngest player to score two or more goals in a game for Liverpool since Raheem Sterling against Norwich City in the Premier League back in April 2014 (19y & 133d).
– Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino became the first Japanese player to score two goals in a League Cup game since Shinj Okazaki did so for Leicester City against Chelsea in September 2016.
Liverpool will bring their big guns back when Arsenal travel to Anfield in the Premier League on Monday – days before their EFL Cup meeting – while Lincoln host Chartlon Athletic in League One a day earlier.