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Much-changed Liverpool below their best but reach quarter-finals after two second-half goals
Minamino puts visitors ahead from close range before Origi's superb overhead back-heel
Championship side Preston left to rue missed chances before the break
Jurgen Klopp may have never placed great store in the League Cup, despite Liverpool’s proud history in the competition, but goals from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi at Deepdale were enough to finally kill off Preston and help carry his team through to its quarter-finals.
The Japan international finally broke through a dogged home backline after 62 minutes and Origi sent the large travelling contingent home with a goal to remember.
He scored with an audacious overhead back-heel after Kostas Tsimikas’s cross had struck the bar and Neco Williams’ shot had been deflected into the air via a defender.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 27, 2021
But it was the Japan international’s opening goal, his fifth in his last five EFL Cup appearances, that finally broke Preston’s resistance, just seconds after Adrian had saved a volley from Tom Barkhuizen.
“Takumi is high quality,” Klopp said. “There’s no problem for him, apart from the other players in his position who are really, really good and, thankfully for us, not injured.
“Takumi is in an outstanding moment, training well, and tonight he was the most dangerous player out there and he really understands our game as well. Divock’s goal was just Divock Origi!”
Origi, like Minamino, has made the EFL Cup a competition for personal target practice, with 11 goals now in 10 ties, although, like his partner last night, first team opportunities look severely limited unless Klopp maintains his policy of using shadow teams in the cup.
Klopp had, predictably, changed his entire line-up from the one that swept to that spectacular Old Trafford victory on Sunday. It is part of his understandable selection policy in domestic cup competitions and one of the reasons why, apart from an EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City in his first season, he has never come close to winning one. Now in the quarter-finals, Wembley is just two victories away for a club that has won the League Cup eight times.
However, Klopp would not be drawn on whether or not he would start integrating more frontline players into the team for the latter stages of the competition.
“It depends on the specific situations,” he said. “Obviously I don’t think we could have lined up any differently tonight, but we have to see. I really don’t make those decisions two or three weeks before we play the next round.”
By the Liverpool manager’s admission, his team of unfamiliar youngsters and fringe seniors did not play particularly well, and could have been trailing long before their opening goal.
Preston manager Frankie McAvoy, with an eye on his team’s lowly Championship position and an important game with Luton looming, had made nine changes of his own. But, having weathered early Liverpool pressure, Ryan Ledson then volleyed over from the edge of the area after a neat, headed assist from Brad Potts to signal a change in the game’s momentum.
Preston missed the best chance of the night so far at the 26-minute mark after Sean Maguire’s superbly-timed through ball played Potts clear. The midfielder raced away before unleashing a shot from the edge of the area which Adrian, rather unconvincingly, pushed away from his goal two-handed.
Three minutes later, Preston were even more wasteful after Joe Gomez gave the ball away cheaply in his own half, sparking an attack which should have seen Maguire convert from close range from Ali McCann’s cross, only for Adrian to block brilliantly.
The rebound fell to Ledson, whose effort was similarly blocked by Williams, before Potts ballooned a third chance over from the resulting ricochet.
“It smashed me in the mouth and I didn’t remember much,” Williams said. “I was there on the line and I thought I’d have a good chance of blocking it.
“Luckily it has smashed me in the face and stopped a goal.”
Klopp allowed Williams to play further upfield after the interval, after bringing on yet another teenager in Conor Bradley, paving the way for a much-improved second half from the Premier League side.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set the tone, the midfielder exchanging passes with Jones, before turning and sending a violent shot flying just off target. After the opening goal, Jones himself then came close with a long-range shot that was gathered by Declan Rudd.
“The best opportunities fell to us in the first half; they are big moments and you have to take them,” McAvoy said. “If you don’t take them. You see the difference when Liverpool get an opportunity.
“But I cannot fault the desire and commitment, everything the players gave. Unfortunately we were done by a top team.”
Preston vs Liverpool - how the match unfolded:
FT Preston 0 Liverpool 2
It is Liverpool who march on to the League Cup quarter-finals but they were made to work for every inch of that victory.
Preston could easily have been ahead at the break but Liverpool held firm with two players who love a League Cup goal - Minamino and Origi - turning the tie in the visitors favour. The best of the two was definitely from Origi who added the icing to the cake with an outrageous flick.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 27, 2021
90+1 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 2
A bit of old-fashioned time wasting by the visitors as Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain get an early finish with Beck and Dixon-Bonner a brief stretch of the legs.
90 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 2
Three minutes to be added on at Deepdale. Liverpol are on course to get the job done but it's not been pretty.
88 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 2
Chance for a Liverpool third! Williams deserves a goal for his efforts tonight in setting up the other two, but he shoots straight at Rudd after being set clean through by Origi.
That would have been mightily harsh on Preston.
84 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 2
Origi just loves this competition! Liverpool's top overseas scorer in the League Cup gets another, via a wonderful piece of improvisation.
Tsimikas might try and claim he was going for the shot with a cross from the left that flew over Rudd and smacked the bar. No matter, as it was Liverpool who reacted quickest with Williams having his shot blocked before Origi, facing away from goal, flicked over his head and into the net.
Game over you'd have to say.
Preston 0 Liverpool 2 (Origi 84 mins)
81 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Potts is industrious in attack again, winning a throw-in on the near touchline but Riis Jakobsen's long-range missile is easily gathered by Adrian.
The reinforcements are on for Preston but the hosts have yet to threaten in the way they did in the first-half.
78 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
A triple roll of the dice for Preston....
Johnson on for McCann
Whiteman on for Ledson
Sinclair on for Maguire
74 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Phillips tidies up at the back with fellow substitute Riis Jakobsen lurking for Preston. The latter is Preston's highest scorer in the competition this season, scoring in all three rounds so far. A goal tonight would be the most special of the lot.
72 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Little in the way of a response to falling behind from Preston yet. That triple chance from the hosts in the first-half suddenly seeems a long time ago.
Minamino to the rescue
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 27, 2021
68 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Another Preston change as left-back Cunningham comes off for Josh Earl.
67 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
In a sign of how against the run of play that goal was, Minaminos effort was Liverpool's first on target.
63 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Preston's immediate response was to bring on Riis Jakobsen for Barkhuizen, who has run and run tonight.
Unsurprisingly Liverpool now knocking the ball around confidently.
62 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 1
Finally, the 5,000 travelling Liverpool fans have something to cheer. But it is oh so harsh on Preston, who just seconds after attacking their opponents' goal, find themselves behind.
Williams, pushed forward into midfield in recent minutes, works hard down the right, running into the box and cutting back across for Minamino, who manages to get in ahead of Lindsay to turn into the net.
It almost looked like it came off his thigh but he won't mind. That's his seventh Liverpool goal - all away from home - and his team are ahead.
Preston 0 Liverpool 1 (Minamino 62 mins)
61 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Maguire releases Barkhuizen down the left and then continues his run into the box to nearly get on the return pass. Preston recycle and Barkhuizen forces a save out of Adrian.
59 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
With that Bradley substitution, he looks to have gone to right-back with Williams moving forward.
Approaching the hour mark and no real nugget of quality in this match yet.
56 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Boos ring out around Deepdale with Preston fans unhappy Liverpool continued to play on despite Maguire being down injured on the ground. It looks like an arm injury after being caught by Tsimikas, and so on comes the Preston physio with his magic sponge.
55 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Oxlade-Chamberlain, perhaps knowing he should stick to the basics, goes route one and whips a shot away on the turn, which only just goes wide of the Preston goal. Better.
Time's up for Blair, who is replaced by Bradley.
52 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
In fairness to Blair, however, not many Liverpool players have covered themselves with glory so far. Oxlade-Chamberlain, very much a senior member of the starting XI tonight, tries to execute a fancy flick but only ends up conceding a free-kick.
50 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
It's been a tough night for Blair on his senior Liverpool debut. The 18-year-old's not been getting much help from his team-mates but he's been equally well marshalled by the Preston defence.
48 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Nearly an opening for Minamino after Lindsay is caught ball watching but the Liverpool forward cannot control the lofted ball into the box.
46 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Right then, what sort of response from Liverpool to that first half? They didn't even manage a single shot on target in the first 45.
Nat Phillips is coming on for Liverpool, to replace Matip.
Remember, teams can make five changes at this stage of the competition.
Liverpool living dangerously
How is there not a goal here?! 😬
The chances are coming for Preston...
📺 Watch Preston vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Football pic.twitter.com/eK3e3iS0pJ
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 27, 2021
HT Preston 0 Liverpool 0
No added time as referee David Coote doesn't even wait for the full 45 minutes to elapse before blowing for the break.
Will Preston live to regret those first-half misses? Liverpool, even taking into account 11 changes, have been poor - and you'd expect Klopp will demand a response after the break.
44 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Liverpool, remember, have scored three or more in each of their eight away trips this season, including five on three occasions.
There's been nothing to write about in the way of chances for the visitors this half.
42 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
I imagine Preston fan Freddie Flintoff will be chirpy at half-time if the Sky Sports lot let him back on pundit duties again at the break. This has certainly not been a performance from a team sitting 19th in the Championship. They've made Liverpool look very ordinary.
39 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Now it's Rafferty on defensive duties stopping Tsimikas from getting a cross in from the left. Very disciplined all around from Preston.
Premier League high-flyers Liverpool, meanwhile, are spluttering.
36 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Another corner for Preston as Rafferty refuses to give up on a ball forward into the right of the box and earns his reward when Adrian can't collect the ball on the greasy surface.
Sadly for the hosts the set-piece flies straight over Lindsay's head in the box.
34 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Jurgen Klopp is not happy on the touchline, he's shouting wildly. It's been hard work for his team so far tonight. And they should also be a goal behind.
Minamino and Jones try some short passes on the edge of the box but it's all art and no end product.
27 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
PRESTON SHOULD BE AHEAD! It's raining chances for the hosts.
Gomez carelessly loses the ball close to his own box, and the ball is squared for Maguire five yards out but Adrian blocks at point blank range.
The ball rebounds out to Ledson who tries to find the far corner first time but Williams is back on the goalline to block with his body and then Potts fires over. Massive let off for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.
25 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
CHANCE! This will be how Preston catch out Liverpool - on the break.
The hosts pinch the ball in midfield, Maguire plays the ball on down the middle and Potts is off running straight in on goal.
He appears to run out of a steam a bit but it still requires Adrian to tip away the shot. The Deepdale faithful raise their voices in appreciation.
24 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Oxlade-Chamberlain appears to be fidgeting with his boot the last few minutes. It doesn't appear to be an injury issue, however, more a footwear problem.
Once again, Liverpool in possession.
21 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Origi drops deep to receive the ball on the right side. He looks up and chips a cross towards Blair, assuming a central position in the box, but it is too high for him.
The camera cuts to Kenny Dalglish yawning in the crowd. That's about right for this game.
20 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Twenty minutes in and Liverpool can boast 85 per cent possession but they can't work a way through the white wall. This match is a bit of a slow burner so far.
16 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Defence quickly turned into attack by Preston as Potts intercepts in midfield and drives forward over the halfway line. Barkhuizen manages to win a throw-in on the far side, which eventually falls to Ledson who tries his luck from outside the box with a volley.
The key for Preston will be making the most of those moments. Because they're spending an awful lot of time on defensive duties.
14 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Preston doing a good job of holding their shape in defence and making Liverpool force their passes. It needs a bit more zip from the visitors.
10 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Barkhuizen, on his 200th appearance for Preston, will have wanted to do better there. Matip steps off in the Liverpool defence and the Preston forward latches on to a forward ball but fires over from 25 yards.
An encouraging counter attack from the hosts.
7 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Oxlade-Chamberlain, perhaps with a point to prove tonight, floats a straight forward ball over the top of the Preston defence towards Origi. It almost catches the hosts out but Rudd comes off his line to gather.
6 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Blair, making his senior Liverpool debut, looks to be on the right of the front three, with Minamino left and Origi down the middle.
He darts forward in the box to receive a short pass, turns neatly but then fires high and wide. Actually so far wide, that it went out for a throw-in...
4 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Preston, 19th in the Championship, have managed just three wins in the league this season.
The start is as expected with Liverpool on the ball and dominating.
2 mins Preston 0 Liverpool 0
Liverpool get us underway and the ball is immediately hoofed deep into Preston territory, where the hosts' back three settle down to their task ahead.
The Deepdale crowd is in fine form already as the players emerge from the tunnel.
Preston in their usual white home shirts, Liverpool all in red.
It's the first ever meeting between Preston and Liverpool in the League Cup...
The task ahead for Preston tonight
Frankie McAvoy: It's a massive game
Preston manager Frankie McAvoy has been speaking to the Sky Sports team...
We've freshened it up quite a bit but the guys who are there are good enough to come in. We're comfortable with the team we've set up.
It's a massive game, no ones giving us a chance but we'll go and give it our best shot.
Meanwhile former England cricketer and Preston fan Andrew Flintoff has snuck alongside the Sky Sports team ahead of kick-off. No doubting who he is rooting for tonight, although his brother is a Liverpool fan.
Klopp smiling for now
It's wet and windy at Deepdale but Klopp is in good spirits. And so he should be with his team unbeaten in their last 21 games in all competitions.
As for their chances tonight, Liverpool have progressed from 16 of their last 17 League Cup ties against sides from a lower division, with the exception being a shootout defeat to Northampton Town in 2010-11.
Preston chase history
Ali McCann returns in Preston's midfield while on-loan defender Sepp van den Berg lines up against his parent club after being granted permission to play - one of only two survivors from Saturday's 2-0 loss to Blackpool.
This is the first ever meeting between Preston and Liverpool in the League Cup with the Championship side looking to reach the League Cup quarter-final for the first time in their history.
All change for Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp has opted to reshuffle his entire XI which dismantled Manchester United 5-0 at the weekend.
Divock Origi, who has scored 10 goals in his last nine Carabao Cup starts, spearheads the attack alongside Takumi Minamino.
Adrian is in goal with second-choice goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher losing his battle to be fit.
Old and new faces
A big night for a pair of 18 year-olds in winger Harvey Blair, and midfielder Tyler Morton, as they make their senior debut and full bow respectively.
Behind them in defence are the experienced Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, who will be tasked with helping to keep quiet a Preston attack that have actually scored more goals than any other side in the League Cup this season (11).
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 27, 2021
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) October 27, 2021
Liverpool pump up the volume
Pep Lijnders has compared Liverpool's noisy celebrations following their historic win at Old Trafford to the sound levels created by the vociferous Atletico Madrid crowd during their Champions League game in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium five days earlier.
Lijnders, Jurgen Klopp's No 2, revealed that one of the players had bought a new speaker to play music on and it was pumped up to maximum volume after the sensational 5-0 victory that humiliated their historic rivals.
"Everybody who was there knows the sound of the stadium in Madrid," he said ahead of tonight's EFL Cup tie at Preston. "The sound in the dressing room on Sunday was like in Madrid when they scored their second equaliser!
"I don’t know who bought the new speaker but we have a new speaker. It’s good. I think they could hear us in Liverpool! The gaffer always says, 'I don’t want to make it bigger' but it was a big one.
"It’s always nice if you go away to a top team and put a performance in like that. I think it was a historic night but the manager spoke so much about it already after the game, so I think there’s not much more to say. What’s in the past is in the past, we look forward and the next game comes already quick."
Lijnders hailed the predatory instincts of Liverpool's strike force after Sunday's five-star show took the team's goal tally to 41 in 13 games in all competitions this season. Thirty goals have come on the road with the Merseyside club scoring three or more in each of their eight away trips, including five on three occasions.
Mo Salah's hat-trick means he has scored in 10 consecutive games prompting Lijnders to hail the predatory instincts of the Egyptian international and strike partners Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.
"The quality of our front three - we said they look like raptors in Jurassic Park!," he added. "They go for it, they are lethal and that’s what we want of course. If you score in the right moments, these games – for example, against United – can happen as well.
"But I think it has to do also with how the team is playing. You can never judge scoring just by the goals scored, it’s how we move the ball from out the back, it’s how we are protected, it’s the whole package that creates our front players constantly getting good positions to score."
Preston will no doubt be relieved that Salah and most of Sunday's team will be rested for tonight's fourth round tie with squad men like Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas, Nat Phillips and Adrian all set to start.
But Lijnders insists Liverpool will respect their Championship opponents just as much as United on Sunday in a bid to maintain the momentum of a 22-match unbeaten run that stretches back to the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in early April.
"We want to be good in each game, I think that’s what the fans expect from us," he said. "The only way to do that is to be consistent – consistent in our way of play, in our ideas, in how we want to put our game in the opposition half, how we train each time."
James Milner will be out until after the next international break after injuring his hamstring at Old Trafford but the good news for Liverpool is that Naby Keita only suffered bad bruising to his ankle in the tackle that led to Paul Pogba being sent off. But he will be missing tonight along with Fabinho and Thiago.
Meanwhile Liverpool have given Preston permission to play their on-loan defender Sepp van den Berg because they want him to gain experience.