Liverpool gave full debuts to three young players in the League Cup at MK Dons and the much-changed lineup cruised to a routine 2-0 victory.
MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool
League Cup third round, Stadium MK
25 September 2019
Goals: Moore og 40′, Hoever 68′
Caoimhin Kelleher (out of 10) – 8
The young Irishman was making his debut for the club and made a nice take of an awkward high ball early on, then gathered one right on the edge of the box in his arms—just on the line, by the replay, so nicely judged.
Good footwork, calm when being closed down. His first save came 71 minutes in — a good, diving parry away to his left. Should provide a memorable photo opportunity, but his next save was even better, if less photogenic: an instinctive block in mid-air with his feet.
Ki-Jana Hoever – 6
Always available as an outlet for the Reds down the right, though not overly adventurous with his passing or crossing. When he did get into a great area to cross from close range, he blazed the ball wildly out of play.
Scored his first goal for Liverpool with a brilliant far-post header with 20 minutes left to guarantee passage to the next round.
Joe Gomez – 7
Neat at the back, nothing complicated, did his job and mopped up Dejan’s mess a few times. Passable impression of Joel Matip early in the second half, striding forward and blazing over.
Lost a one-on-one battle by the touchline which wasn’t very clever, but the Reds escaped.
Dejan Lovren – 5
Embarrassed 10 minutes in by a third-tier striker, losing the ball and gifting a massive chance.
Early in the second, played the striker on while stood five metres away and looking right at him, though did recover to make a block. Also headed one off the line, after he’d lost out another couple of one-on-one battles.
We are way, way past the point of Dejan Lovren.
James Milner – 8 (Man of the Match)
Got forward on the “Andy Robbo overlap” nicely a few times early on, mixing it up between checking back onto the right foot and twisting his way free to cross on his left, which was good to see.
Almost opened the scoring with a diving header, then did so with a hammer shot from the edge of the box which the keeper spilled into the net.
Great defending to stop an equaliser from close range after a corner, then delivered another brilliant cross for the second goal.
Adam Lallana – 7
Some lovely sprayed passes, some terrible defensive awareness, some occasions caught in possession. Seemed to think he was playing some hybrid half-six, half-10 role, judging by his runs to the edge of the MK box at times.
Shifted forward from the six to a more advanced role after an hour, which didn’t actually make any difference to where he ran and got on the ball. Better with his ball use in the second half, made good use of space and involved in the second goal.
Hot and cold in the first half, showing some nice touches and movement but not really having any end product in the right channel. Didn’t see him too much in very central areas for much of the opening 45.
A great turn run and low shot swerved past the keeper and crashed against the post. Subbed on 80 minutes.
Naby Keita – 6
Busy and industrious return to action, if not a terribly sure-footed or spectacular one.
Will take a while to readjust to the tempo of the team and get his touch right, as shown by a few overrun dribbles and a wild, high, left-footed shot. A nice hour under his belt.
Harvey Elliott – 7
Liverpool’s youngest ever player to start a game, Elliott missed a massive chance from five yards early on. He showed some magic moments cutting in from the right and some good delivery toward the far post.
Lots of instances where we saw Elliott’s immense potential—dribbling, speed, vision—and several where we saw his obvious inexperience—finishing, defensive work, his right foot—too.
Unbelievable run and effort late on… very unlucky to strike the woodwork for the second time in the game.
Rhian Brewster – 6
Quiet early on but had two good involvements in the first half, the second of which saw him make a great run across the defender and goalkeeper—but fail to get a touch on the ball.
Better movement and approach play early in the second half with some runs and deliveries from the channels.
A little frustrated, it seemed, that chances weren’t falling his way in the area—but will learn that centre-forward play for Liverpool is far more than just about putting the ball in the net.
Curtis Jones – 7
The creative and direct early outlet for the team from the left side of the attack. A couple of shots which tested the ‘keeper and some nice link play in the channel.
In and out of the game thereafter, showing good touches and helping move the MK Dons defence about, but certainly didn’t dominate or display his dribbling ability in one-on-one situations.
Pedro Chirivella (on for Keita, 62′) – 6 – Made a good tackle by the corner flag.
Herbie Kane (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 82′) – 6 – A first-team debut for the midfielder.
Sepp van den Berg (on for Hoever, 90′) – N/A – Another debutant, played all of 120 seconds and didn’t touch the ball.
Subs not used: Lonergan, Lewis, Longstaff, Clarkson
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Can’t complain with Jurgen’s choices, here. Rested the entire first team, gave plenty of kids a chance and came away with a result.
We could really do with a run in the League Cup, not for prestige reasons but to keep these fringe players involved, getting game time and experience.
Could have made a sub or two a little earlier perhaps, and not entirely sure Liverpool benefit much from Chirivella’s entrance—but after he’s given the club a fair few years of his service, it’s no bad thing to reward his professionalism.
Simple win in the end and hopefully one or two of the incoming players gave the boss a bit to think about, with plenty more games to come in the next few weeks.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not