Saturday 26 May 2018

Magnificent Mane leaves Liverpool fans purring in cruise past Brewers

Burton Albion 0 Liverpool 5

Calum Butcher of Burton Albion is challenged by Joel Matip of Liverpool (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Calum Butcher of Burton Albion is challenged by Joel Matip of Liverpool (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

John Percy

Sadio Mane is already proving he can be the main man for Liverpool.

Mane has made a stunning impact for Jurgen Klopp and this brilliant display enabled Liverpool to complete a comprehensive victory to blow away the negativity from last weekend.

The £30m summer signing was influential throughout this canter and already appears indispensable, after missing the 2-0 defeat at Burnley with a shoulder injury.

Burton Albion were broken by Klopp's vast armoury of attacking options, with Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge all scoring in a rout at the Pirelli Stadium.

Sturridge claimed an excellent fifth, his second goal, but Mane was involved in all of the goals and had the travelling supporters saluting a new hero.

There were no gambles with Klopp's team selection, a refreshing alternative to the norm from most Premier League managers in this competition and Origi - making his first start of the season - and Mane look a promising partnership.

Nigel Clough famously guided Burton to a 0-0 draw against Manchester United ten years ago yet a goal was inevitable here after a menacing start from the visitors.

Brewers goalkeeper Stephen Bywater had frustrated both Origi and Firmino in the opening 11 minutes but could do little to prevent the goal on the quarter-hour mark.

It owed much to a brilliant turn of pace from Mane, who easily eluded the Burton defence inside the penalty area to present Origi with a simple finish from a yard out.

Burton were struggling to get out of their own half and Liverpool extended their lead in the 22nd minute when Firmino nodded in Nathaniel Clyne's cross, following a poor throw from Bywater.

Despite Liverpool's dominance, this game underlined Burton's meteoric rise from the lower leagues. Liverpool have won more league cup finals than Burton have had matches in the competition, while Clough will also face neighbours Derby in the Championship on Friday in what the manager has described as "a historic week".

But they could not trouble the Liverpool defence, which included debutant Joel Matip, and hopes of an upset were wilting.

There was an improvement in the second period from the home team but Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was untested.

Liverpool killed off any hopes of a defiant comeback just after the hour with a third. James Milner's cross from the left was awkward to defend and Burton defender Tom Naylor only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own net.

Klopp was in ruthless mood, introducing Sturridge and Georginio Wijnaldum for the final 25 minutes. Sturridge claimed the fourth from close range and in the final stages it was damage limitation for the hosts.

Another rapid burst from Mane created space for Sturridge to fire in a fifth and that £30m suddenly looks a bargain buy.

Before the game, Klopp insisted that there is no greater expectation on his side to win a trophy because of their lack of European football.

In contrast to last season, when runs to the League Cup and Europa League finals contributed to a final tally of 63 matches, the Reds' fixture list will be much less congested.

"It is not about not being in Europe and so one cup is important. This is important," he said.

"We have never shown a lack of respect to any competition. There is always this kind of pressure whether we are in Europe or not." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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