Jurgen Klopp was given his first taste of the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night, and will have been delighted as Liverpool thrashed Everton 4-0.
Liverpool 4-0 Everton
Premier League – Anfield – Wednesday, 20 April
Goals: Origi 43′, Sakho 45′, Sturridge 60′, Coutinho 76′
As Liverpool prepared themselves for their 226th derby clash with Everton, Klopp steeled himself for his first, with this Anfield outing coming at a crucial stage in the 2015/16 campaign.
After naming a youthful side for Sunday’s 2-1 win away to Bournemouth, Klopp made another nine changes to his selection against the Toffees.
Most notably, Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen both dropped down to the substitutes’ bench, with Divock Origi the preferred option as Liverpool’s lone centre-forward.
“It’s a normal rhythm, and if we can keep going like this it’d be great for us. We need to be prepared for intensive games,” Klopp told Sky Sports before the game, suggesting that he was holding the likes of Sturridge back for Saturday’s clash with Newcastle United.
Despite having an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday to prepare for himself, Roberto Martinez named his strongest possible Everton lineup, but saw his side fall apart as Liverpool dominated.
With the tempo high from the offset, both sides looked to trouble the opposition’s penalty area early on, and the best chance in the opening stages fell to Adam Lallana.
Latching onto Bryan Oviedo’s scuffed clearance in the Everton half, Lallana surged towards goal, but failed to slide the ball under an onrushing Joel Robles.
Meanwhile, Everton looked to utilise the aerial ability of Romelu Lukaku and the trickery of Kevin Mirallas on the break, and it was the latter who had the closest effort for Martinez’s side before the 20-minute mark, but he was unable to guide a long-range strike on target.
Lucas Leiva, the rarest of Liverpool goalscorers, was the next to test Robles, but the Everton goalkeeper was able to parry his effort from outside the area as the Reds kept the pressure on.
A quick throw-in gave the Reds their next break, with James Milner‘s pass through to Firmino allowing the No. 11 a one-on-one with Robles, but once again the Spaniard held firm.
It took until just before half-time for either side to break the deadlock, and it was Origi once again who was on hand to nod a pinpoint Milner cross beyond Robles to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
Not content with a slim advantage heading into the interval, Milner chipped in another delivery from wide, with Mamadou Sakho on hand to head the Reds 2-0 up at half-time.
Martinez made one change at half-time, bringing on Mohamed Besic for Gareth Barry, but the Spaniard was soon rocked by a straight red card for centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori.
Lunging in late on Origi in the Toffees’ half, Funes Mori proceeded to blast the ball away when the initial foul was given, with referee Bobby Madley deeming this show of indiscipline worthy of dismissal.
Meanwhile, Origi was forced off with the resulting injury, with Sturridge taking his place in attack.
Funes Mori’s absence left Everton unbalanced and there for the taking, and a sloppy pass out from John Stones gave Liverpool their third goal minutes later, with Lucas laying the ball into Sturridge’s path and the striker expertly placing the ball out of Robles’ reach.
Sturridge’s goal ushered in an exercise of target practice for Klopp’s side, as Liverpool advanced further into the Everton half and the Toffees’ defence retreating further into the penalty area.
Lallana, Coutinho, Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and substitute Joe Allen all had great chances in the 10 minutes after Funes Mori’s dismissal, but were unable to add to Liverpool’s lead.
But when the ball fell to Coutinho just outside the area on 76 minutes, the 23-year-old stepped inside and delivered a trademark low, whipped finish past Robles to put the Reds 4-0 up.
This proved to be the end of the scoring on another great night for Klopp’s resurgent Reds.
TIA Man of the Match: Mamadou Sakho
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas, Milner (Ibe 81′); Lallana, Firmino (Allen 66′), Coutinho; Origi (Sturridge 54′)
Substitutes: Ward, Toure, Smith, Stewart, Allen, Ibe, Sturridge
Everton: Robles; Baines, Funes Mori, Stones (Pienaar 62′), Oviedo; Barry (Besic 46′), McCarthy; Lennon, Mirallas, Barkley (Cleverley 58′); Lukaku
Substitutes: Howard, Niasse, Cleverley, Besic, Deulofeu, Osman, Pienaar
Referee: Bobby Madley