A record attendance at Stadium MK witnessed a young Liverpool progress into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 victory over MK Dons.
The Reds fielded an entirely different starting line-up than the one that beat Chelsea 2-1 this past weekend.
The team included several young academy graduates, including first senior starts for Ki-Jana Hoever, Caoimhin Kelleher, Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliot – the latter becoming the second-youngest player ever to play a competitive game for the Reds. The youngest being Jerome Sinclair, who also made his debut in the League Cup.
Youth Firing on all “Cy-Lijnders”
Elliot showed why Liverpool chose to sign him this past summer within his first half of football in Red. The former-Fulham winger was heavily involved in what Liverpool had to offer creatively in the first half.
He put in a ball from the right-hand side that was on a dime for James Milner. The on-the-night captain missed the ball by a whisker.
Elliot showed his confidence all evening. The youngster had a chance early in the second half that he hit into the side netting. He even managed to hit the bar twice. He couldn’t have been more unlucky.
Ki-Jana Hoever also starred in his first-ever start for the Reds. The young dutch defender managed to score Liverpool’s second on the night.
James Milner’s floated cross was met with a thumping header from Hoever. The ball flew past Moore in the MK Dons goal.
Still Life in the Old Dogs Yet
Despite the focus on the youth, it was the oldest player on the pitch who broke the deadlock.
James Milner collected the ball from a poor George Williams clearance. He then smashed the ball towards the goal only for Stuart Moore to a meal of it.
The MK Dons goalkeeper should have been able to simply catch the ball but the swerving nature of the shot proved to be too much for Moore.
Milner’s goal was his 23rd for the club in all competitions. His goal was his first in the League Cup since scoring a penalty for Aston Villa in the 2010 final.
Even at 24, Naby Keita was still one of the older players in the Liverpool side. The Guinean made a promising return to first-team action this Wednesday evening, playing just over an hour.
Not Everything Went Liverpool’s Way
MK Dons had their fair share of chances. Dejan Lovren gifted the home side a chance that Callum Brittain could only direct over the bar.
Liverpool dominated possession but whenever MK Dons had the ball, they always believed in the way that they play football. This despite the side residing in 15th in League One.
Early in the second half, Sam Nombe should equalise for the Dons. He hesitates and allows Lovren enough time to recover and make up for his previous mistakes.
Seconds later, Jordan Bowery managed to get his foot to a cross and direct the ball goalwards, only for the ball to hit the post.
Bowery had yet another chance later in the half – only to be denied by a fine stop from Caoimhin Kelleher.
For Liverpool, it will be a fifth-round tie in the Carabao Cup. The Reds had been knocked out in the fourth round for the past two seasons and the young Reds will appreciate the chance to have a run-out.
In the more near future, the Reds travel to Bramall Lane to play Sheffield United this Saturday afternoon.
MK Dons won’t be too upset at not progressing in the competition, they would have expected a defeat as soon as they drew Liverpool. The Dons travel north to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light – also this Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool: Kelleher; Hoever (van den Berg 90+2′), Lovren, Gomez, Milner; Keita (Chirivella 63′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Kane 82′), Lallana; Jones, Elliot, Brewster.
MK Dons: Moore; Williams, Poole, Walsh; Brittain, Kasumu (Houghton 61′), McGrandles, Gilbey (Boateng 72′), Dickenson (Martin 46′), Bowery, Nombe.