Following Liverpool’s routine 3-0 victory over Exeter City on Wednesday evening, we round-up the best media reaction to the game.
The Reds cruised in the FA Cup fourth round at a freezing cold Anfield, with Exeter offering almost nothing from start to finish.
Both Sheyi Ojo and Joao Teixeira scored their first ever Liverpool goals, made even more special by being in front of the Kop, with Joe Allen opening the scoring on the night.
Jurgen Klopp’s youngsters impressed in general, and having nicked a draw in the awkward original tie at St James Park, this was a stroll in the park in comparison.
Here is how the watching media reacted to the match:
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo was left frustrated with Christian Benteke’s performance, with the Belgian again struggling to impress:
The only frustration was that Liverpool squandered some gilt-edged opportunities to kill the tie off before the interval. Benteke was the main reason why it remained in the melting pot for so long.
While all around him young talent blossomed, the £32.5million striker toiled as his touch repeatedly let him down. When Teixeira’s inch-perfect cross put it on a plate for him, Benteke somehow conspired to head over.
Moments later the big frontman scuffed horribly wide and then nodded into the side-netting after the outstanding Cameron Brannagan had picked him out at the far post.
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There have been times this season when Benteke could righly bemoan a lack of service from wide areas but on this occasion he had nowhere to hide.
Nothing went right for him.
The Telegraph‘s Jim White praised the quality of Ojo’s lovely finish, but was another who was critical of Benteke:
For Jurgen Klopp this was a night of discovery. Most particularly against a spirited, effortful but ultimately limited Exeter City, the Liverpool manager learned that, despite the gathering assumption of recent weeks, he has a reliable finisher on his books.
It was a delightful goal by the substitute Sheyo Ojo, bent from the edge of the area with a dispatch not often latterly seen from his more elevated Liverpool colleagues, that settled the nerves that threatened to envelop Anfield. It was the goal that cemented a home tie with West Ham in the fourth round. And it was the goal that made the Klopp grin sparkle.
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Benteke, gifted the opportunity to demonstrate that he should be included more often in the starting line-up, singularly failed to seize his chance, mixing moments of artistry with leaden footed fumbles; the only thing consistent about him his sheer unpredictability.
One minute he was meeting a Brad Smith cross with a foresquare thump of his head, the next he was being easily bullied off the ball by Exeter’s Troy Brown. No wonder Klopp spent much of the first half turning to his bench with a look of gathering frustration.
Paul Joyce of the Express felt Liverpool’s youngsters did themselves no harm whatsoever, on an admittedly easy night at the office:
Liverpool did just as Liverpool were supposed to do last night and if progress beyond Exeter City was only guaranteed in the final 15 minutes in many ways the wait felt worthwhile.
There was not a confidence-boosting goal for Christian Benteke to celebrate despite numerous chances, yet youngsters Sheyi Ojo, who became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer in the FA Cup, and Joao Teixeira had more cause to remember the occasion as they added gloss to Joe Allen’s early opener.
Liverpool’s reward is a Fourth Round tie with West Ham. Klopp’s youngsters will hope for more opportunities.
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There was, in truth, rarely anything more than a glimmer of excitement for the 6,000 travelling Exeter supporters to cling to and at one point they resorted to chastising Klopp for failing to acknowledge their pleas to “give them a wave.”
Joe Rimmer of the Echo discussed the hugely pleasing return of Jon Flanagan, who came on shortly after half-time, following nearly two years out injured:
If you felt vibrations around Anfield this evening, there’s nothing to be concerned about, this was no earthquake. It was the feeling of 45,000 Scousers shivering their way through 90 minutes of football.
But, apart from the goals, there was a moment to get the blood pumping, a moment that will have warmed the hearts of Liverpudlians, and football fans, everywhere.
The sight of Jon Flanagan’s name on the teamsheet, albeit on the bench, was a welcome one. The noise when he made his way onto the pitch within five minutes of half-time, a moment to remember.
With Jamie Carragher now Sky’s star man, and Steven Gerrard now spraying his passes in the MLS, Flanno is the man Kopite’s identify with. And he was straight back at it here, winning tackles and headers, and bombing on with abandon at times.
Liverpool fans, and indeed Flanagan himself, have waited long for this. Flanno is back in business and the ‘Scouse Cafu’ even has the original sitting up to take notice once again.
In Steven Kelly‘s ESPN player ratings, midfielders Allen, Teixeira and Kevin Stewart all fared well:
Allen (7/10) – A storming performance against Stoke and goals against Arsenal and Exeter, it seems a strange time to be reading stories about the “Welsh Xavi” leaving Liverpool. Got forward to good effect and harassed the opposition with his usual appetite for hard work. Was Klopp saving him for the next league on Saturday by replacing him shortly after the hour mark?
Teixeira (7/10) – Lots of quality touches, culminating in a fine goal that sealed victory for his side. Shades of Philippe Coutinho in his play, he produced a classy cross in the first half which Christian Benteke should have converted. Good reports from his loan spell at Brighton did not lie and he may even get some game time in the Premier League on this evidence.
Stewart (7/10) – Did a little more on the night than his fellow midfielder Brannagan; he was reckless in possession once or twice, which might have been punished by better opposition. In fact he almost got Smith booked with one poor pass. Plenty to admire though, and despite looking a little tired after an hour, he found a second wind and kept going admirably. Another who can be proud of his first games for the Reds.
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