A victory and a plethora of debuts were widely lauded by the Liverpool squad after their 2-0 win over MK Dons in the third round of the League Cup.
Jurgen Klopp travelled to Stadium MK without any members of the starting XI who emerged victorious at Chelsea, as he instead turned to his burgeoning youth talents and a sprinkle of more experienced heads.
The occasion marked the debuts of Harvey Elliott, Rhian Brewster, Caoimhin Kelleher, Herbie Kane and Sepp van den Berg, the latter two of whom were introduced off the bench late in the piece.
And it proved to be a night to remember for the young Reds, after James Milner’s first-half strike and Ki-Jana Hoever’s first senior goal for the club secured a 2-0 victory over League One outfit MK Dons.
The win ensured Liverpool safely progressed to the fourth round of the competition after two years without an opening-round win, where Arsenal now await at Anfield at the end of October.
For Kelleher, who made a number of impressive saves on the night, it was an experience which proved hard to describe beyond being simply “unbelievable”.
Speaking to LFCTV after the game, the 20-year-old ‘keeper also admitted to having felt the nerves after being told he’d play following the game at Chelsea while also noting how important the presence of an experienced backline ahead of him was:
“Obviously an unbelievable night for me to make my debut. Can’t sum it up in words, it was just an unbelievable feeling to play for Liverpool for the first time.
“There was obviously a few nerves but I just wanted the time to come for kick-off [having found out he’d been playing on Sunday].
“It really helps [to have an experienced backline] for someone like me who is making their first start, it calms you and they talk to you a lot so it gives me a lot of confidence to play my normal game.
“I thought all [the youngsters] did really well. I’ve played with them all the time so I know their qualities and how good they are and none of them looked out of place.”
In the aftermath of the momentous and triumphant outing, both goalscorers were quick to celebrate, with Milner was not shy in his pun work as he shared his joy for over his involvement in the two goals.
Meanwhile, Hoever was simply overwhelmed by the feeling of opening his account for Liverpool:
A similar feeling was evoked for Rhian Brewster who was “buzzing” to have made his debut for the Reds and to have walked away with the win:
It was a long-awaited return from injury for Naby Keita who expressed his delight at being back on the field and thanked the travelling Kop:
The senior figures in Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana were quick to congratulate their young teammates on their milestones as they each lauded progression into the next round:
The victory will prove to be a major boost for the youngsters in their development and confidence, all the while providing a further opportunity for senior action.
In the meantime, however, regular service will resume when Klopp reinstates his first-choice XI when the Reds travel to meet Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.