Four Irish youngsters start as Liverpool ease past Norwich

Caoimhín Kelleher saves penalty; Adam Idah, Andrew Omobamidele play full game

Norwich 0 Liverpool 3

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher, and his fellow Republic of Ireland internationals Adam Idah and Andrew Omobamidele for Norwich, all started Tuesday’s League Cup clash. Northern Ireland international Conor Bradley also played the 90 minutes for Liverpool . . . 

The faces might have been different but the result was distinctly recognisable. Liverpool beat Norwich 3-0 here on the campaign’s opening weekend, offering the Canaries a rude awakening they are yet to shake off; five and-a-half weeks on they repeated the trick, reaching the fourth round in comfort and suggesting the depth is there for a tilt at their first League Cup win since 2012 if they want it.

Takumi Minamino scored either side of a Divock Origi header to ensure Norwich earned no relief from what they had hoped would be a morale-building diversion; they passed up on their chance to take some heart when Christos Tzolis missed a penalty that, had he converted, would have brought them in level at half-time.


Caution over any conclusions to be drawn from the outcome was justified by a predictable level of rotation. In fairness to Daniel Farke and Jürgen Klopp, neither side was saturated with untried youngsters. While Norwich retained just three of those who flopped against Watford, eight of their starters had begun at least one Premier League game this season. Their plight is such that places all over the pitch were fair game.

Klopp kept the debutants to a minimum in an otherwise recognisable selection, only blooding Tyrone native Conor Bradley and Kaide Gordon. While there are high hopes for Bradley, who started at right-back and is already a Northern Ireland international, the pre-match hype centred on how the ex-Derby winger Gordon would fare two weeks before his 17th birthday. Derby will receive £100,000 now he has played: in their plight, every little might help.

Within four minutes of kick-off, Liverpool were in profit. Minamino’s goal, converted on the turn with his first meaningful touch of the season, punished the soft defending that is too familiar in these parts. Origi was able to rise between two markers and nod down Kostas Tsimikas’s corner; Minamino did the rest, firing through Angus Gunn’s legs, and any notion of a night’s escapism for Norwich looked distant.

If Farke’s selection of three centre-backs was a dry run for setting up more solidly in the top flight, there was little early encouragement.

From another Tsimikas corner, Ibrahima Konaté thudded a header just over; then the left-back crossed again but the diminutive Gordon, flying in from the right, could not leap high enough. Gordon later served notice of his ability on the deck when cutting inside and fizzing a fair effort past the near post.

Norwich's better work involved Christos Tzolis, even if the game's vital statistics may suggest differently. The Greece forward crossed just beyond Irishman Adam Idah shortly after Minamino's opener and, on the half-hour, backheeled for his strike partner to shoot at Ireland goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher as the hosts gathered momentum. Four minutes before half-time, Tzolis took aim from range and saw Kelleher parry; his compatriot, Dimitris Giannoulis, sniffed the rebound but was bundled over by Bradley.

It was a clear penalty and the confident Tzolis stepped up to take it, drilling down the middle only for Kelleher to repel with a trailing leg. His attempt to convert the rebound brought an ungainly air kick; if nothing else, though, this now smelled more like a cup tie.

A mere 67 seconds after the restart, Norwich were profligate again. This time Tzolis could not reach Giannoulis’s pass inside but Pierre Lees-Melou, rushing in behind him, blazed over with a clear sight of goal.

Predictably, they were punished almost instantly. Curtis Jones's well-weighted pass sent Tsimikas to the left byline and the resulting chipped delivery was again on point, Origi rising to propel it beyond Gunn. Tsimikas, the third Greek on the pitch, continues to look a highly capable alternative to Andy Robertson after rarely featuring last season.

Origi could quickly have killed any remaining Norwich interest but shot wide. He then skipped inside and offered his junior sidekick the half-chance to garnish his big night; the ball sat up sharply and awkwardly, though, and Gordon shot well over at the near post.

Farke sought to reinvigorate his forward line with Teemu Pukki and Milot Rashica, but the cause felt futile. Although Pukki dragged a cross-shot wide, Minamino foraged through a succession of non-existent challenges and completed the job by squeezing his finish past Gunn. - Guardian