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Kelleher 9/10, Hoever 8/10 as Liverpool’s youngsters impress vs. MK Dons

MK Dons were more than up for the challenge against Liverpool, but a howler from keeper Stuart Moore and a goal from Ki-Jana Hoever sealed the 2-0 win. To watch Carabao Cup, subscribe to ESPN+.
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Liverpool advanced to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a mostly routine 2-0 win over MK Dons. Goals from James Milner and Ki-Jana Hoever wrapped up the win, while young goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher impressed between the sticks.

Positives

There were plenty of minutes for Liverpool’s youngsters, with Kelleher in particular showing what he’s capable of with some fine saves. Hoever also impressed, and it’s a job well done as none of Liverpool’s usual front three were required, meaning Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, among many of Liverpool’s other first-team regulars, were rested ahead of their next Premier League outing at Sheffield United.

Negatives

The breakthrough wasn’t easy to come by, with MK Dons holding firm for 40 minutes of the first half. Liverpool’s attacks weren’t particularly creative, and it looked like a team that hadn’t trained together too frequently. There were a few nervy moments as MK Dons tried to get back in it in the final 15 minutes, but it’s a case of nitpicking to find negatives in this Liverpool performance.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Jurgen Klopp put his faith in his younger players, while also blending them with some experienced veterans. There was a nice balance in the side between the likes of Milner and Adam Lallana, whose experience in game management was no doubt useful to the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott. It was a good experiment that showed Klopp what his youngsters are capable of, should he choose to call on them in the Premier League.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Caoimhin Kelleher, 9 — Made a string of impressive saves, denying Jordan Bowery on multiple occasions both from short-range and from distance. Looked quick off his line as well, and wasn’t afraid to approach the halfway line to distribute play high up the pitch. Only one ball that he should have caught instead of punched stood out as a fault in his game.

DF Joe Gomez, 6 — Played some nice passes from back to front, cutting through the MK Dons midfield. However, he was also muscled off the ball by Sam Nombe in a dangerous position in the second half.

DF Dejan Lovren, 9 — An impressive defensive performance from someone who has barely featured for Liverpool this season. Did plenty of tracking back, blocked a dangerous Nombe cross, and headed a George Williams shot off the line.

DF Ki-Jana Hoever, 8 — Put in some good crosses and made a good run at the back post to get on the end of a James Milner delivery to score Liverpool’s second. Headed the ball back across goal expertly.

DF James Milner, 8 — Struggled to find a way through MK Dons’ backline until scoring the game’s opening goal, which he was fortunate to see Stuart Moore clumsily spill into his own net. Assisted the second goal and made a good block from a late Bowery shot.

Liverpool celebrate during their Carabao Cup match against MK Dons.
Liverpool celebrate after scoring against MK Dons in the third round of the FA Cup.

MF Naby Keita, 5 — A forgettable performance from Keita. He kept things moving going forward and picked out the attacker’s runs, but ultimately created little. A shot from distance was scuffed high and wide before he was substituted in the second half.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 — Could have taken more shots at goal. On one occasion when he did shoot, his fierce strike from outside the box crashed onto the post. Unlucky not to score.

MF Adam Lallana, 6 — Involved in the build-up play to Liverpool’s second goal, but didn’t come up with too many chances of his own.

MF Harvey Elliott, 7 — Should have scored early on but instead hit the crossbar from close-range. Encouragingly, he didn’t show any signs of his confidence being knocked. Elliot kept going, and was unlucky to see a good second-half strike also hit the crossbar.

MF Curtis Jones, 6 — Wasn’t shy of shooting at goal and showed good footwork in both his and the opposition’s penalty area.

FW Rhian Brewster, 5 — An unremarkable night for Brewster, who didn’t find himself in enough good attacking positions to get on the end of any of Liverpool’s chances.

Substitutes

MF Pedro Chirivella, 6 — Replaced Naby Keita in the 63rd minute.

MF Herbie Kane, N/R — Came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 82nd minute.

DF Sepp van den Berg, N/R — Replaced However in the 92nd minute to make is Reds debut.

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