Wednesday 7 December 2016

Coutinho steals show as Klopp's stars shine

Derby County 0 Liverpool 3

Gavin McCafferty

Published 21/09/2016 | 02:30

DERBY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Philippe Coutinho (L) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Roberto Firmino during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Derby County and Liverpool at iPro Stadium on September 20, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
DERBY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Philippe Coutinho (L) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Roberto Firmino during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Derby County and Liverpool at iPro Stadium on September 20, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp was supposed to fade into the background this season, but Liverpool's "heavy metal football" is making all the right noises. It was thought Klopp would become a supporting cast member, yet this was another statement of intent.

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Their path to the EFL Cup fourth round could not have been more comfortable as Philippe Coutinho seized the opportunity to remind Klopp and Liverpool fans of his undoubted influence. He was irresistible here, a shimmering menace all evening, after £32 million signing Sadio Mane's recent hogging of the headlines.

Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action with Timi Elsnik. Photo: Getty
Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action with Timi Elsnik. Photo: Getty

Loris Karius, the goalkeeper on debut, was able to stand and admire Liverpool's commanding performance and it really does feel as if Klopp is on the verge of upsetting the established order.

Liverpool dominated the early stages, with Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino coming close from distance as Derby struggled to gain momentum. And with £8million record signing Matej Vydra cup-tied and Manchester United loanee James Wilson injured, Pearson's attacking options were slim.

The hosts were behind in the 24th minute after an inexplicable mistake from Derby skipper Richard Keogh, who got it all wrong as he tried to clear Coutinho's corner. It left Ragnar Klavan in an acre of room. The Estonian defender's first Liverpool goal was a gift.

It seemed a rout was inevitable as Divock Origi then tested Derby goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell before Coutinho's 30-yard free kick was tipped over the bar.

Liverpool's Lucas Leiva and Derby County's Darren Bent compete for a high ball. Photo: Getty
Liverpool's Lucas Leiva and Derby County's Darren Bent compete for a high ball. Photo: Getty

With Derby possessing little cutting edge, Pearson introduced former Liverpool attacker Tom Ince at half-time but the game was beyond their reach five minutes into the second period.

Coutinho had been involved in most of Liverpool's threatening moments and he exchanged passes with Firmino before rolling the ball into the corner.

Origi added a third in the 54th minute, after another classy move, producing an emphatic finish from inside the penalty area after being sent clear by Coutinho. Klopp even had the luxury of easing substitutes Emre Can and Danny Ings back in as time ticked away and Liverpool were toying with their Championship opponents.

They could have added more goals but it is difficult to shake the theory that something is stirring under their charismatic manager. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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