Burton Albion 0 Liverpool 5
It will take more than an emphatic victory over Burton Albion to provide evidence that Liverpool are back on the right path after Saturday’s sobering defeat at Burnley but Jürgen Klopp’s side did all that was asked of them on an evening when the chasm in class was every bit as wide as the scoreline suggests.
Klopp's team selection underlined how seriously he was treating this match and their progress to the third round of the League Cup was a formality before the midway point of the first half. Liverpool, courtesy of early goals from Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino, were 2-0 ahead after 22 minutes and it was already starting to feel like an exercise in damage limitation for the Championship club.
Nigel Clough, who made five changes to his starting XI, may well have had one eye on the visit of neighbouring Derby County on Friday in another landmark game for a club that have come so far in such a short time. Klopp, however, was thinking only of returning to winning ways and his players had no intention of disappointing him.
Sadio Mané was outstanding, the £34m summer signing from Southampton setting up three of Liverpool's five goals, including Daniel Sturridge's second. The England international came off the bench in the second half, just after Tom Naylor's own goal had made it 3-0 to Liverpool, and quickly struck twice, his first walked into the net from James Milner's low cross and the second clinically finished. The only slight worry for Liverpool was the sight of Emre Can limping off, although the injury did not appear to be serious.
Moving the ball around with pace and purpose, Liverpool meant business from the start and it felt like a matter of time before Klopp’s side took the lead. Dominating possession, Liverpool’s slick passing and fluid movement were too much for Burton at times and it was no surprise when Origi opened the scoring in the 15th minute.
Stephen Bywater, who had already denied Origi and Firmino, was left stranded as a terrific burst of speed from Mané opened Burton up. The Senegalese, who missed the Burnley game with a shoulder injury, looked threatening whenever he picked up the ball and it was a lovely piece of play on the Liverpool right that bamboozled Damien McCrory and created a couple of yards of space inside the area. Dropping his shoulder, Mané left the Burton defender for dead and squared for Origi, who turned the ball over the line from little more than a yard out with a neat flick.
Origi was making his first start of the season along with Emre Can, while there was a first competitive Liverpool appearance for Joël Matip, who partnered Dejan Lovren at centre-back. Sturridge dropped to the bench along with Georginio Wijnaldum and Ragnar Klavan, with Philippe Coutinho rested.
It looked a strong team on paper and it showed on the pitch. There were times when Burton were chasing shadows, which is no disgrace against a team of Liverpool's quality. Adam Lallana should have doubled Liverpool's lead in the 20th minute, when Jordan Henderson picked him out with a fine centre that implored the England international to nod home, but the contact on his header was poor and the chance was squandered.
Liverpool were not so generous with their finishing a couple of minutes later, when Bywater gifted the ball to the most dangerous player on the pitch. Mané, stood just inside the Burton half, intercepted Bywater's throw out and fed the rampaging Nathaniel Clyne. The right-back's centre was inch perfect and Firmino, from about six yards, dispatched his header beyond the Burton goalkeeper.
The occasion had always promised goals. Burton's first four Championship matches had yielded 18 – nine at each end – providing a measure of the open, attacking football that Clough likes his teams to play. For a long period, though, it was one-way traffic here as Liverpool took total control. Mané, running on to Firmino's pitching-wedge pass, felt that he should have had a penalty on the stroke of half-time but Simon Hooper, the referee, waved away his appeals after Kyle McFadzean clipped his heels. The Burton captain may well argue that the contact was accidental.
Any faint hopes that Burton had of salvaging something from the game were extinguished when Matip's header, from a Milner corner, was turned into his own net by Naylor just after the hour. Running through on goal in the right channel, Lucas Akins had Burton's best opportunity of the game moments later but his shot was high and wayward.
Liverpool, however, were not finished. Milner, fed by Mané, crossed for Sturridge to tap in and the substitute scored a second six minutes later, confidently shooting home from about 12 yards.