For all the formidable international talent in this Liverpool squad there is something pleasing about seeing a young local lad – a “proper Scouser” as Jurgen Klopp has called him - wearing the number 17 shirt and running the midfield. Comparisons with Steven Gerrard will always be made but it was certainly an impressive performance from Curtis Jones as a fourth round Carabao Cup tie at home to Arsenal next week was earned in a flurry of stunning goals. The 19-year-old claimed two of them.
Liverpool have laid out their ambitions by promising to attack every competition and they did just that against League One Lincoln who – despite the score-line and after the initial shock – actually acquitted themselves extremely well as their own two strikes showed. Even so, Lincoln were well-organised and well-beaten.
Klopp made 10 changes from the weekend win over Arsenal – with the only survivor Virgil Van Dijk going off at half-time – and was rewarded with hunger and desire and maybe the determination from a few players such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Grujic, making his first appearance since December 2017, to show they have a future at the club. Tellingly both scored.
“That’s how it should be [Liverpool’s second XI playing like their first],” Klopp said. “Wear the shirt and show who you are. I’m happy with everything.” He should be and, especially, surely, with Jones who scored two superb goals and dominated throughout having, as he later said, waited for “my turn”.
“There is still space for improvement. Everybody knows my opinion about Curtis Jones,” Klopp said. “He is an exceptional talent and we will have some fun with him, I am pretty sure, in future.” It felt like a promise rather than an optimistic claim and despite the arrival of Thiago Alcantara and the depth of midfield options Jones should get more opportunities not least because Liverpool are fighting on all fronts. Jones is earning them.
Maybe it might have been a little different had there been the 10,000 fans inside this stadium which Lincoln manager Michael Appleton had craved and maybe it might also have been different if his side had not been so totally overwhelmed inside 36 minutes with the ferocity of Liverpool’s pressing as, Klopp later said, Takumi Minamino set the tone and the remarkable accuracy of their finishing. “A masterclass,” Appleton ruefully said.
And so the goals came. For the first, Minamino was brought down by Lewis Montsma which allowed Shaqiri a sight of goal. Twenty five yards out he grabbed it with a powerful free-kick that was whipped beyond goalkeeper Alex Palmer and high inside his near post.
Liverpool pressed again with Montsma at fault as he attempted to bring the ball out from his area only for his pass to be intercepted by Harvey Elliott who attempted to pick out Divock Origi. Montsma blocked, it fell to Minamino and he curled a first-time shot that left Palmer rooted.
Then it was Jones’ turn. Origi won a header from Elliot’s cross and it dropped to the midfielder who deftly dragged it back, took a touch and arced a shot around the goalkeeper. His second was similar as he sent in another curling shot, which deflected off Liam Bridcutt, with Palmer beaten. In doing so he became the youngest player since Raheem Sterling, in 2014, to score two goals in a game for Liverpool.
Alongside Van Dijk was 19-year-old centre-half Rhys Williams, an academy product, on his debut as was new signing Kostas Tsimikas with £41million Diogo Jota coming on for his first appearance. Before that, and just 17 seconds after the re-start, Jones put Elliott clear with Palmer saving well only for the ball to rebound to Minamino who guided his volley into the unguarded net.
To Lincoln’s immense credit, and maybe with Van Dijk off, they hit back. Four times they were thwarted by Adrian - who denied Harry Anderson, blocked James Jones’ follow-up, another from Tayo Edun and, soon after, frustrated Anthony Scully before the final two Lincoln players combined. Scully found Edun who steadied himself, feinted to shoot and guided the ball low beyond Adrian.
Liverpool struck again when Grujic, who has been on loan for two seasons in Germany, caught out Palmer with a fierce low shot only for Lincoln to immediately hit back as Montsma met a corner with a towering header which struck the cross-bar and bounced over the line. Inevitably Liverpool finished the scoring as Minamino broke and Origi, who was the captain in the second-half, thumped another fierce low shot from the area’s edge past a dispirited Palmer.
“Everyone used the opportunity to show up, that is very important,” Klopp declared. “My door is always open and if a player shows desire – because they all can play football – that is why they are at Liverpool.”
No-one showed that more Jones, the exciting young talent from Toxteth.
Lincoln City (4-3-3): Palmer; Bradley, Montsma, Eyoma, Melbourne; Jones, Bridcutt, Edun; Anderson, Scully, Grant.
Subs not used: Ross (gk), Jackson, Hopper, Archibald, Howarth, McGrandles, Roughan.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; N Williams, R Williams, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Jones, Grujic, Shaqiri; Elliott, Minamino, Origi.
Subs not used: Kelleher (gk), Fabinho, Keita, Jota, Wilson, Alexander-Arnold, Van den Berg.
Referee: Tony Harrington.
That's all the live reaction this evening...
But read Jason Burt's match report for a full recap from a night filled with action.
Unsurprisingly, plenty of positives for Liverpool
Curtis Jones was excellent, he seems to be improving with every match at the moment. Takumi Minamino was allowed to run the show from a central position, a role he thrived in.
On debut, Tsimikas put in a promising performance. He was very eager to attack and showed good work rate. Jota came on late in the game, failing to make much of an impression.
League Cup legend...
🎯 Divock Origi has scored 9 goals in 12 League Cup appearances, more than any other player since his debut in the competition in September 2015 pic.twitter.com/qDxGmIsebc— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 24, 2020
Lincoln did not play too badly, creating many chances
Liverpool were just brutally clinical, taking all of theirs.
FULL TIME: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 7
Edun wins a corner for Lincoln. A shot is fired in by Bradley. Adrian keeps it out and that is that.
90+2 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 7
Curtis Jones has been named man of the match. Fair enough, Minamino has also been very good.
90 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 7
No shortage of action in this game, that's for sure. Three minutes of added time to come.
GOOOOOAAAAAL! Origi Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 7
Liverpool counter through Minamino, he finds Origi who slides it past the keeper from the edge of the box. Classy finish.
Liverpool have seven!
87 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Scully attacks down the right, unable to thread a pass through to one of his teammates.
85 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Jones breaks down the right and is brought down in a good area for a cross. Tsimikas takes it, the ball in headed away.
This stat tells you a lot about how clinical Liverpool have been tonight
4 - Liverpool are the first English top-flight side to score at least four times from outside the box in the same match since Manchester United beat Roma 7-1 back in April 2007 in the Champions League. Range. #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/3RSR6qQ80X— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 24, 2020
82 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Liverpool win a corner. Minamino's ball in does not beat the first man, however.
79 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Archibald, on from the bench, really should score. He has a free header on the edge of the six-yard box but guides right at Adrian who makes a good reaction save.
76 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Jota cuts in from the left, shooting from the edge of the box but it goes just wide. That would have been a nice moment on debut.
74 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Jones bursts forward but loses control of the possession. Minamino then puts in a bad tackle on Grant, should have been booked really.
Keita is coming on for Shaqiri, who opened the scoring for Liverpool tonight.
71 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Fabinho takes it. He fires low but it just does not curl enough. Decent effort. Not sure why Shaqiri has been knocked off free kicks, mind.
69 min: Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
Liverpool seek revenge. Minamino bursts forward and is fouled on the edge of the box. Eyoma booked for the challenge.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL! Montsma Lincoln City 2 Liverpool 6
And right away Lincoln score... they win a corner, Adrian comes for it but is beaten in the air by Montsma who heads it home.
Not great goalkeeping.
GOOOOOOAAAAAL! Grujic Lincoln City 1 Liverpool 6
The ball falls to Grujic on the edge of the box. He releases a shot with his right which just has too much power on it, sneaking into the bottom corner. Normal service resumes.
63 min: Lincoln City 1 Liverpool 5
The game has been very open this half. Liverpool understandably taking their foot of the gas.
Shaqiri breaks forward, finding Tsimikas but his shot goes well wide.
GOOOOOAAAAAAL! Edun Lincoln City 1 Liverpool 5
Lincoln really do deserve this goal. Edun finds some space in the box, he rolls the ball onto his right and curls it past Adrian. Nicely taken.
59 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
Grant sends in a dangerous cross but Eyoma puts it well wide. He should have done much better from close range! Bridcutt is off, replaced by Hopper. James Jones off too, replaced by McGrandles.
56 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
Liverpool break down the left through the lively Tsimikas. His cross is overcooked however, Palmer claims with ease.
Elliott is coming off - and he is replaced by new recruit Diogo Jota! He will be eager to get on the scoresheet.
53 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
It has been a frantic start to the half, both sides eager to score. Another chance for Lincoln! Scully latches on to a cross but Adrian makes a good save from the resulting effort.
51 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
Another corner is won. Grujic wins it but his header goes well over the bar.
49 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
Well, the half could not have started much worse for Lincoln. Liverpool look hungry for more goals too!
Huge chance for Lincoln! Anderson goes through one-on-one but Adrian keeps the effort and the rebound out. Liverpool counter. Origi fires from long range, the ball is blocked but falls to Minamino. His attempt is deflected out for a corner.
GOOOOOOAAAAAL! Minamino Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 5
Liverpool press Lincoln off the ball, Elliott goes through on goal but his effort is saved. The ball falls to Minamino who volleys it into the empty net.
That goal took 18 seconds after the break...
The second half is underway!
Fabinho is on for Virgil van Dijk - not too much of a downgrade then...
You have to feel a little bit for Lincoln
Curtis Jones and Takumi Minamino have been the stars of the show for Liverpool
Both have been excellent so far. They have looked sharp, been creative and taken their chances.
Jurgen Klopp will like what he has seen.
Here is Liverpool's third goal - another high quality affair
🎙 - "An absolute 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙘𝙡𝙖𝙨𝙨 in finishing from Liverpool!"— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 24, 2020
The Premier League champions are putting on a show at Lincoln City! 🔥
Watch Lincoln City v Liverpool live on Sky Sports Football or follow: https://t.co/XsDFyPBVh9 pic.twitter.com/vzJvULJ5CX
HALF TIME: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
And that's the half. Liverpool have been clinical.
45 mins: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
Edun drives into the box and fires a shot towards the near post, forcing Adrian to push it around the post for a corner. The resulting corner lands back in the hands of the keeper.
42 mins: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
Feels a strange thing to say at 4-0, but Lincoln have not been that bad. Liverpool have just taken every chance.
The young guns eager to impress Jurgen Klopp, no doubt.
40 mins: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
Lincoln win another corner, taking it short once more. Eyoma then crosses it in but Jones can only guide it wide of the near post.
38 mins: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
In the last five minutes, Liverpool has had 94 per cent possession. 94! That is ludicrous by any standard.
GOOOOOOAAAAAL! Jones Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 4
The ball falls to Jones on the edge of the box. He shifts the ball past one defender before curling it towards goal. The ball takes a deflection and loops past Palmer.
This becoming a rather brutal scoreline...
34 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 3
No rest for Lincoln. Elliott fires a shot from long range, earning his side a corner. Shaqiri whips it goal-bound and Palmer punches it behind for another.
This time it is headed away.
GOOOOOOAAAAAL! Jones Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 3
Rhys Williams sends the ball over the top to Origi who heads it back to Jones. He takes a touch and bends it past the keeper. Another stunning finish!
31 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
Elliott attacks down the right but his cross is well blocked. Liverpool come again but Williams cross is met by no-one. The ball is headed out to Jones who has a long range effort deflected out for a corner.
Bridcutt volleys it clear.
29 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
The home side force another corner. A short one is taken. The resulting cross finds Eyoma in the box but he sends it over the bar. Chance missed!
Here is Liverpool's second
🎮 - 𝙍𝘽 + 𝘽— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 24, 2020
Lincoln City get caught out at the back and Minamino curls one into the top corner! 🔥
Watch Lincoln City v Liverpool live on Sky Sports Football or follow: https://t.co/XsDFyPBVh9 pic.twitter.com/GKOHdnAhHp
27 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
Montsma has broken up the play well a couple of times. Jones attacks down the left for Lincoln but Neco Williams forces him back. Anderson then switches the play, earning a corner of Tsimikas in the end.
The corner is wasted, however.
25 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
Shaqiri whips in a corner but it is headed away at the front post. Liverpool come again, Jones and Minamino linking up nicely but to no avail.
23 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
Liverpool, unsurprisingly, just look a little too sharp for Lincoln. Minamino in particular has been excellent so far.
Minamino hammers a volley goalwards but an important block sends it wide for a corner.
20 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
First chance for Lincoln! A quick free kick sees a low cross driven across goal, Adrian deciding to push it out for a corner rather than let it run. The subsequent ball in is cleared with ease.
Better from Lincoln.
GOOOOOAAAAAL! Minamino Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 2
A big mistake proves costly. A pass on the edge of Lincoln's box finds Elliott who rolls it to Minamino. He takes one touch before dispatching it into the top corner. Clinical from the Premier League champions.
17 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 1
Tsimikas is looking lively, he drives in a cross which falls to Jones - but his shot goes wide.
Here is Shaqiri's magnificent goal
15 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 1
Minamino looks for Elliott in behind but he is beaten to the ball. The away side have really picked up the tempo since scoring.
12 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 1
Lincoln have done nothing wrong so far really, but find themselves down to a sublime strike.
Liverpool are playing the ball around with good pace, looking for a gap to exploit.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL! Shaqiri Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 1
What a strike! Shaqiri whips it with power into the top corner! No chance for the keeper. What a start for Liverpool.
9 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 0
Jones wins a free kick for Liverpool in a dangerous area. Shaqiri stands over the ball.
7 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 0
Tsimikas breaks down the left and whips in a cross but the ball is easily claimed. Liverpool attack again, this time down the right. But Neco Williams is forced to pass back.
5 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 0
Lincoln press hard, forcing Liverpool back to Adrian. Good aggressive intent from the home side in the opening minutes.
Minamino turns his marker in the middle of the pitch before dinking a pass wide to Neco Williams. Pure class. Lincoln recover, however, forcing Liverpool back once more.
2 min: Lincoln City 0 Liverpool 0
Liverpool spread the ball around the back to start before a long ball is sent forward. Too much on it however, Lincoln clear.
Rhys Williams, on debut, has had a couple of nice touches so far.
Here we go!
Liverpool get us underway.
The players are out onto the pitch
Liverpool in their turquoise number. It's not as bad as it sounds...
Debut in defence for Liverpool tonight
Jurgen Klopp ahead of kick-off
The Liverpool manager says that Virgil van Dijk is playing as he does not have enough centre-halves. Klopp also said that he wants Diogo Jota to observe Liverpool's style from the sidelines before getting involved.
Interesting as ever from Jurgen...
Interesting side picked by Liverpool tonight
Adrian, N Williams, R Williams, van Dijk, Tsimikas, Grujic, Jones, Elliott, Shaqiri, Minamino, Origi
A real mix of youth and experience. It will be especially interesting to see how Tsimikas goes at left back and whether Elliott can continue to impress when given opportunities. You'd expect Jota, named on the bench, to get a bit of a run out tonight too.
Michael Appleton's thoughts in the build-up to the game this week:
"It’s one of them, if it was a horse race God knows our odds. 100-1? Maybe 1000-1. But we go into the game with belief. And not being passive. I see these games where teams go in with a good shape, but not really working the ball. I’ve spoken to the players about being aggressive. Don’t just watch them play. Give them something to think about.
“If you ask what’s our best chance of beating Liverpool, well our best chance has gone. If we’d had 10,000 here cheering every time we won a throw in, that would have made such a difference. We’ve got to find another way of doing it. If we need a lift, it might have to be from the bench, or might have to be senior players rallying round to get us through difficult moments. Because one thing is for sure, whatever team he puts out, there will be difficult moments.”
Not having any fans in the ground is undoubtedly a blow to any chance of an upset.
Liverpool have a pretty good record against lower league opposition
Liverpool have progressed from 15 of their last 16 League Cup ties against sides from a lower division, with the exception being a shootout defeat to Northampton in the third round in 2010-11.
Can Lincoln City do something special and change that tonight?
It's been a while, but the long wait ends tonight...
1960/61 - This is the first competitive meeting between Liverpool and Lincoln since the 1960-61 season, when Liverpool won home and away against the Imps in Division Two. Distant. #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/Gv4I0kh6at— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 24, 2020
And here is the Lincoln City team
Starting XI: Palmer, Bradley, Montsma, Eyoma, Melbourne, Bridcutt, Edun, Jones, Grant, Anderson, Scully.
Subs: Ross, Jackson, McGrandles, Howarth, Roughan, Archibald, Hopper.
Liam Bridcutt, having played in the Premier League with Sunderland, is the name that jumps out from the starting line-up.
Liverpool team news is in!
New Liverpool signing Diogo Jota will be made to wait for his debut after being named only as a substitute for the Carabao Cup third-round tie.
There is a first appearance for fellow new arrival Kostas Tsimikas at left-back and also 19-year-old academy graduate Rhys Williams, who partners Virgil Van Dijk in central defence.
Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Adrian, Curtis Jones, and Takumi Minamino of Jurgen Klopp's other recognised first-team players all start as he makes 10 changes from Sunday's Premier League win at Chelsea.
Liverpool: Adrian, N Williams, R Williams, van Dijk, Tsimikas, Grujic, Jones, Elliott, Shaqiri, Minamino, Origi.
Good evening, Lincoln boss Michael Appleton has described Jurgen Klopp as the world's best manager ahead of tonight's clash
Lincoln boss Michael Appleton believes he must attempt to outwit the world's best manager in tonight's Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool.
Former Manchester United midfielder Appleton insists Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest of all time, but rates Jurgen Klopp top of the current pile.
"There's some top drawer managers out there, but Jurgen has just got that edge on them all at this moment in time," Appleton told the PA news agency.
"I worked with the greatest ever, in my eyes, and it will take some doing for someone to top Sir Alex.
"But at this moment Jurgen is right up there. Pep (Guardiola) has been in that position and he's more than capable of being in that position again.
"(Jose) Mourinho's obviously been in that position and same goes for him. (Hansi) Flick has just won the treble with Bayern (Munich) and (Carlo) Ancelotti is doing great at Everton.
"But at this moment in time Klopp has got to be, if not the best, certainly in the top two."
Appleton, at his fifth club as manager and still only 44, will not try to second guess Klopp's team selection for the third-round tie.
"He could make 11 changes on Thursday night and probably comfortably turn over any side in our division, five or six-nil," said Appleton.
"But hopefully he's going to come up against a group of players who are honest, humble and work their socks off for each other.
"My players have got plenty of energy, hopefully we can ride our luck on the night and our goalkeeper has a good night, you just never know."
The former Portsmouth, Blackpool, Blackburn and Oxford boss, whose playing career was cut short by a knee injury at the age of 27, is currently building on the foundations laid by his predecessor at Sincil Bank, Danny Cowley.
Cowley guided Lincoln to two promotions in three years before departing to Huddersfield in 2019 and also led the Imps on their FA Cup run in 2017 when they became the first non-league club since 1904 to reach the quarter-finals.
But Appleton knows Lincoln's recent cup pedigree will count for nothing against the Premier League champions.
"I've said to my players there must not be a time in the game at all, for any second, where we feel sorry for ourselves," he added.
"That's because even if it doesn't go to plan and we're three or four-nil down, Klopp and his staff will be looking to get a fifth one and a sixth one and a seventh one. They won't care because that's how they're drilled.
"But we've earned the right to be here because we've had two good wins and it would be a shame not be aggressive and have a real go."