BURTON ALBION 0-5 LIVERPOOLThere was to be no upset at the Pirelli in front of the Sky Sports cameras as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side ran out 5-0 winners against the Brewers in the second round of the EFL Cup.
Klopp showed ultimate respect to the competition and the Brewers by making just four changes to the side that lost to Burnley at the weekend and watched on as Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino had the Reds comfortably in front with goals just seven minutes apart. An unfortunate deflection off Tom Naylor at a Liverpool corner extended the visitor's lead before a quickfire brace of goals from England striker Daniel Sturridge put the gloss on the Premier League side's victory.
Brewers boss Nigel Clough made several changes to his side with the game against Derby County on Friday night very much in mind. Five changes saw Stephen Bywater handed a Brewers debut in goal with Lee Williamson, Calum Butcher, Damien McCrory and Hamza Choudhury all returning to the starting line-up although Clough stuck with his three central defender formation.
Sadio Mane, Emre Can, Divock Origi and Joel Matip all came into the Liverpool side, the latter making his first appearance after a summer injury.
Albion started positively as Nigel Clough said they would but it was Liverpool with the first real chance on seven minutes. Mane dropping deep picked out a run from Origi but the big Belgian's left foot effort was comfortably saved by Bywater at his near post.
Albion were given a great opportunity to test out the Liverpool defence on nine minutes when Butcher was bundled over just outside the box. With no Matty Palmer on the pitch at this stage it was left for Williamson to deliver in a teasing cross that Dejan Lovren had to head clear.
The Reds were quickly breaking up the pitch down their left and this time it was turn of Roberto Firmino to test out Bywater with a firm header that was heading for the bottom corner until Bywater got across and comfidently pushed the ball away at the expense of a corner. Bywater was quickly out off his line soon after when a clearance ricocheted back towards him off Choudhury and with Origi loitering he had to get there first.
Just after the quater of an hour mark Liverpool had the lead. It owed a lot to the persistence of James Milner down the left and there looked little danger when he hung up a high looping cross to the back post towards Mane. The former Southampton forward showed good control to get into the six yard box before crossing low to ORIGI who had a simple tap-in finished off with a smart back heel.
It should have been 2-0 five minutes later. Origi had too much time and space to feed Jordan Henderson. The England midfielder looked up and swung the ball towards the back post where Adam Lallana had ghosted in and with a free header somehow contrived to nod it wide.
If Lallana's miss was a let off for Albion a poor throw out from Bywater had Albion in trouble midway through the half. Mane cut out the ball out from the keeper and quickly fed Nathaniel Clyne on the right. The full back had space to run into before delivering an excellent cross on the run, perfect for FIRMINO to get his head to it and complete Bywater's punishment.
Albion had made it easy for Liverpool thus far and with the comfort of a two goal lead the visitors were able to play their neat passing as the Brewers sat off fearful of the movement and pace that Liverpool possessed to pick them off. A rare chance for Albion came by way of a set piece when McFadzean got up well to meet another Williamson free kick, his header though was off target.
It was a tame end to the first 45 minutes. Liverpool had imposed themselves in the early stages and it was a long way back for Nigel Clough's men in the second half.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-2 Liverpool
A change for Albion at the start of the second half saw Jackson Irvine replaced by Matt Palmer. A move almost certainly influenced by Albion's fixture with Derby County and with a view to keeping both players fresh. The young midfielder was quickly on his game trying to pick passes although his first carried a little too much weight for Choudhury to bring the ball under his spell as he looked to run into space.
The Brewers won a couple of corners to give them some forward momentum, Lovren carelessly trying to find Mignolet with a back pass but getting it all wrong. With Palmer now on the set pieces there was more of a threat but the towering presence of Lovren and Matip both made sure that there was no was through the red wall of the Liverpool defence.
Liverpool quickly thought they were through on goal for a third but a late flag, a very late flag stopped Origi in his tracks.
As the visitors looked to lift the pace of the game again Choudhury was yellow carded. Henderson tried to set things going and the Leicester loanee pulled him back. Referee Simon Hooper allowed play to develop and then went back to book Choudhury. Lee Williamson also found his way into the referees book for a foul on Lallana. The Reds quickly won a corner and had a third goal. It was somewhat scrappy in its nature but the ball seemed to cannon off Emre Can onto Tom Naylor before nestling in the corner of the net. Unfortunately for Liverpool fan Naylor it was credited as an own goal.
Burton quickly had a chance when Akins burst through and fired over the bar and it was to be the last action for the popular Akins. He made way for Marcus Harness whilst Ben Fox was given his senior debut replacing Lloyd Dyer on the left. Liverpool also made their first changes with Firmino and Lallana making way for the talents of Gini Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge.
The mercurial England striker was soon stretching his legs on a run from deep and also stretching Bywater with a left foot shot that forced the Albion keeper to go down to his left and push the ball around the post. Before the corner could be taken Klopp took the precaution or substituting Can. The German midfielder had needed treatment minutes before and whilst the other changes from the Liverpool manager had been planned this one was more precautionary with former Albion loanee Kevin Stewart sent on for the last fifteen minutes.
When the fourth Liverpool came on 78 minutes Albion could count themselves a tad unlucky. There was more than an element of handball when Stewart blocked a clearance and as Wijnaldum picked up the loose ball Milner was fed in on the left. The winger fired the ball across Bywater and whilst it was debateable whether the ball was going to find the bottom corner, STURRIDGE made sure from a couple of yards out.
The substitute quickly added a second. Mane's directness and paciness got him into the penalty area on the left and his low cross was expertly sent towards the bottom corner by STURRIDGE.
There was to be no chance of a hat-trick for the man that Liverpool fans will hope can hit the goals to get them back in amongst the top four in the Premier League this season but it was an impressive cameo appearance.
By now Burton's thoughts were most definitely on Friday night's clash with Derby in the Championship. It had been a memorable night at the Pirelli as one of the top clubs in the country graced it's pitch but Albion's EFL Cup exploits are over for another year.