A young and inexperienced Liverpool side drew 2-2 at Exeter City on Friday, and we assess how each Reds player performed in Devon.
Exeter City 2–2 Liverpool
FA Cup – St James Park – Friday 8th January 2016
Goals: Sinclair (12), Smith (73); Nichols (9), Holmes (45)
Adam Bogdan (out of 10) – 4
Bogdan was looking to make up for his poor showing at Watford last month, but instead produced an even worse performance against Exeter.
The Hungarian inexplicably allowed Lee Holmes’ corner to go straight in, following a dreadful flap, and he should think himself lucky that he did not knock his side out of the FA Cup. Nowhere near good enough.
Connor Randall – 6
Defensively he struggled to stop the crosses from Exeter’s left and struggled in general. Nothing too bad but nothing great really either.
Tiago Ilori – 6.5
Ilori was rushed back from his failed loan spell at Aston Villa in order to play in the game. Considering his huge lack of match sharpness, he did well.
The Portuguese was an aerial presence at the heart of the Liverpool defence, and also looked assured in possession. Tired hugely as the game wore on, which was understandable.
Jose Enrique – 5
There were some clinging to the hope that Enrique may actually produce a performance of heart, following a year out of the side, but he was bordering on pathetic at times.
The Spaniard’s positional sense, admittedly in a rare outing at centre-back, left a lot to be desired, and he generally looked as though he didn’t care. His second 45 minutes was better than the first, at least.
Brad Smith – 7
Smith has produced some decent cameos in recent weeks, and he was arguably the Reds’ standout player on the night.
He looked good on the ball down the left, and defended resolutely when he had to. Scored the all-important equaliser with an excellent finish.
Cameron Brannagan – 6
A quietly solid performance from Brannagan. Broke up play in midfield and attempted to get things moving. Nothing too bad or good either way. Great experience for him again.
Kevin Stewart – 6
The Liverpool debutant was similar to Brannagan in many ways, in that he did fine but failed to show why he is worth persevering with in the long-term.
His passing was aimless on occasions, but he worked very hard. In fairness, he was playing his first game for the Reds and also his first competitive game since September after five months out injured.
Ryan Kent – 6.5
Much is expected of Kent, and he looked one of Liverpool’s most lively players for much of the first-half.
His quick feet and creativity were very easy on the eye, and it was somewhat of a surprise that he was the first player Jurgen Klopp substituted on the night.
Joao Teixeira – 7
Teixeira is a classy player and he was probably the Reds’ most consistent, stylish player against the League 2 outfit.
The 22-year-old produced some beautiful tricks and flicks, and always looked a threat with the ball at his feet. His influence did drop a little after the break, though.
Jerome Sinclair – 6
It was a momentous night for Sinclair, who scored his first ever Liverpool goal with a well-taken first-half effort, making it 1-1 in the process.
Other than that, though, the Englishman was very quiet, and he failed to link effectively in attack with Christian Benteke.
Christian Benteke – 4
Benteke was made captain against the Grecians, but that did little to galvanise the under-fire striker.
He was bitterly disappointing from start to finish, looking lethargic, failing to hold the ball up and generally lacking the kind of quality that £32.5million buys you.
Attitude and quality far from good enough; could this be another nail in his Liverpool coffin under Klopp?
Pedro Chirivella (on for Kent 57′) – 6
Did ok, struggled at first but got better.
Sheyi Ojo (on for Sinclair 71′) – 6.5
The talented wide man helped change the game, playing a key role in Smith’s equaliser. Looked lively.
Joe Maguire (on for Ilori 77′) – 6
Solid enough in a very makeshift defence.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Klopp simply had to rest key players and gamble on youngsters, and he helped inspire them to a gutsy performance in tricky circumstances.
Both goals were poor individual errors, which the German cannot be blamed for, and his decision to bring Ojo on proved to be inspired.
A hard night to assess the Liverpool manager, but it is hard to pick any faults in how he approached the game.
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EXETER 2-2 LIVERPOOL
RATINGS: Smith MOTM, but Bogdan flops
TALKING POINTS: Youngsters outshine senior trio
OPINION: Youngsters with spirited showing
FAN REACTION: “Well done kids”
TACTICAL: Klopp tweaks in-match to get draw