Adrian and Neco Williams stood out as Liverpool grabbed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Preston North End in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Liverpool unsurprisingly dominated possession but struggled to put Declan Rudd under pressure in the Preston North End goal. Instead, the hosts managed to create the better of the chances in the first half, only to be denied by a combination of Adrian and Neco Williams in a frantic three-minute spell midway through the opening period.
Adrian and Williams’ defensive contributions would prove crucial as Liverpool limped to half-time with the score still reading 0-0. Post the interval, the Reds showed more vigour in the final third and managed to break the deadlock just past the hour mark, as Takumi Minamino scored from close range following some superb work by Williams.
That goal completely deflated Preston and Liverpool subsequently rounded off the win in the 84th minute, as Divock Origi was in the right place at the right time to score from point-blank range after an initial cross/shot by Kostas Tsimikas rattled the crossbar. The result has helped Liverpool reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Fortunate to get a start owing to the knock from which Caoimhin Kelleher was recovering. However, Adrian made his opportunity count, making three important saves to preserve his clean sheet and stabilise the ground before Liverpool sealed the win in the second half.
Neco Williams: 8/10
A stellar showing by Williams, who demonstrated tremendous defensive acumen by positioning himself perfectly to make the goal-line block. The Welsh right-back generally defended well while being a constant outlet down the right flank. He was involved in both the goals scored by Liverpool, with his contribution in the lead-up to Takumi Minamino’s strike being telling.
Neco Williams vs Preston
• 39/46 (85%) passes
• 1 chance created
• 1 assist
• 74 touches
• 2 shots (2nd in game)
• 1/4 dribbles
• 1/2 tackles
• 1 clearance
• 1 interception
• 1 goal line clearance
Good, solid performance from Neco. Awarded MOTM by Sky ? pic.twitter.com/osXS0uEllo
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) October 27, 2021
Joel Matip: 6/10
A surprise starter, Matip could not quite manage to get to grips with the game’s pace, particularly when Preston were in the ascendancy. There was no harm done in the end, but the effects of the recent injury are clear, and it will take some time before he is at his sharpest again.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
The leader at the back and the Player to Watch in our preview, Gomez struggled to keep the Liverpool defence organised in the frantic three-minute spell when Preston threatened Adrian in goal. However, he was solid once he found his feet and shut out the hosts expertly post the interval.
Kostas Tsimikas: 7/10
The lack of game-time was telling in Tsimikas’ display as he was not as sharp as he was early in the season. However, the Greek defender still left his mark in the game, with his cross/shot leading up to the second goal forcing the Preston defenders to go helter-skelter. Defended diligently for the most part.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
For now, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has to suffice with starts in the Carabao Cup, but he is not doing anything to merit selection in a Premier League game. Once again, the Englishman produced a mixed bag of a performance as while he did impress with some of his forays through to the final third, some of his touches were wasteful. He needs a run of games to get back his sharpness.
Curtis Jones: 7/10
This game gave Jones the chance to continue finding his feet after recovering from a groin injury recently. And the young midfielder donned the leadership hat in the middle of the park, helping those around him smartly while moving the ball forward at a quick tempo. Came close to scoring as well on one instance. Solid effort.
Tyler Morton: 7/10
Klopp: “Now we have to make sure we help him with getting a body for football – he is not too small and not too skinny, but there is still a little bit to come and we have to make him ready for all that. It was a very positive impact again tonight.”
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) October 27, 2021
Making his full debut for Liverpool, Morton showed just what the fuss is about regarding the hype surrounding him. Sitting at the base of the midfield, the youngster directed play well while retaining a brilliant pass completion rate of 94 per cent. Some of his long passes opened up play nicely, and it was an overall mature display by Morton.
Harvey Blair: 6/10
A surprise starter as he is a relatively unknown quantity, even for many ardent Liverpool fans. The 18-year-old did look keen on making an impression on his Liverpool debut, but the demands of senior-level football meant he appeared to be like a deer in headlights at times. Will be thankful for the experience, though.
Divock Origi: 7/10
Making a rare appearance, Origi did not quite enjoy himself to begin with, as Preston’s resolve at the back left him isolated. He started getting more involved as the minutes wore on in the second half and then showed good composure to score the second goal for his side and round off the win. Like fellow backup Takumi Minamino, he has chipped in with some handy contributions so far this term.
Takumi Minamino: 7/10
Making only his second start of the season, Minamino was determined to leave his mark on the game. However, the Japanese international only slowly grew into the proceedings. Looked much better in the second half and did well to finish the move for the first goal. He has fared well in the Carabao Cup and is proving to be a reliable backup option.
That's now 5 goals in as many @Carabao_Cup games for Takumi Minamino ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 27, 2021
Nathaniel Phillips: 7/10
Making his first appearance of the season, Phillips showed no signs of rust and was, in fact, the best Liverpool defender on the night, as he helped in calming things down following a difficult first half. Unfortunate, to not get more minutes.
Conor Bradley: 6/10
On for Blair, Bradley did well to keep things ticking in the final quarter of the game.
Owen Beck: N/A
Sent on late for his Liverpool debut, Beck helped see the game out without much of a fuss.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner: N/A
A late introduction, Dixon-Bonner helped see the game out.