Liverpool booked their place in the League Cup fourth round by overcoming Derby County on Wednesday night, but did it the hard way after requiring penalties to beat the League One outfit at Anfield.
With Jurgen Klopp making 11 changes and handing out a number of debuts when naming a youthful side, the Reds huffed and puffed without much to show for their efforts as the Rams ultimately played defensive in hope of penalties. And while they got their wish, it allowed Caoimhin Kelleher to step up and be the shootout hero for Liverpool once again.
Having not played for the Reds since his League Cup final heroics over Chelsea back in February, the Republic of Ireland international saved three Derby penalties before Harvey Elliott stepped up to secure the win. In doing so, the goalkeeper became the shot-stopper with the most penalty shootout saves (six) and wins (four) in the club’s history.
But you already know all that. With the action at Anfield not televised, here are some of the moments you might have missed…
Up against three experienced Football League centre-backs, debutant Layton Stewart was ultimately feeding off scraps as he made his maiden appearance for Liverpool against Derby. While he certainly didn’t shy from the challenge, he was ultimately a little isolated in attack as a result as cross after cross was cleared without the striker getting much of a sight of goal.
He’d be limited to just one shot as a result, and the striker will probably be thinking he should have done better with the opening. While Fabio Carvalho’s cutback to him in the first half was behind him, the 20-year-old did manage to connect only to blaze the shot over the bar.
It was a rare opening for the Reds during the first half, and rather than leave manager Jurgen Klopp frustrated on the bench, it earned his appreciation as he applauded the effort.
Stewart would complete 66 minutes on his debut before being replaced by Darwin Nunez, but was in deep conversation with Klopp as he left the pitch after the final whistle, no doubt soaking up every bit of advice following a memorable night to remember for the youngster.
While it might have been a calm reaction on the sidelines to Stewart’s miss, it was a slightly different story on the pitch when Harvey Elliott saw a good chance to score the winner go begging. Running onto Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pinpoint chipped pass, the midfielder was left with only goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith to beat but his first-time strike was tame as the shot-stopper got a hand to it.
Realising how good an opening it was from close-range, Elliott proceeded to scream to the air in frustration before kicking the post in front of the Kop. He’d still get the chance to score the winner in a different form at least, stepping up to score the decisive penalty in the shootout.
Phillips apologises to Gomez
As is often the case with Nat Phillips, if the ball’s in the air and there to be won, he’s going to win it and head it away. Yet it seems Joe Gomez didn’t quite get the memo.
Considering it was only the fourth time they have played together at centre-back, perhaps a mix-up in communication is to be expected. Either way, Phillips enthusiastically flung himself at one Derby clearance to the halfway line, heading the ball back where it came from and wiping out both a Rams forward and Gomez in the process in the second half.
While it might have been on his side of the pitch, Gomez had shouted his own name to cover it himself before being sent flying by his team-mate. A brief exchange would follow before the two defenders before Phillips offered up an apologetic hand.
Klopp fumes with fourth official
Once the game went to penalties, it did not go unnoticed just how far off his line goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith was when saving Stefan Bajcetic’s opening effort for Liverpool. And it was certainly spotted on the sidelines.
Both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders were particularly animated as they fumed at fourth official David Webb. While a re-take would not be ordered, the officials at least had words with Wildsmith ahead of the Reds’ second penalty, ensuring he would not step forward off his line again.
Having dusted off his best Jordan Pickford impression throughout the game to waste time, diving to the floor on top of the ball at every opportunity, earning repeated boos from the Kop in the process, the save had only added to his pantomime villain status at Anfield on the night. Thankfully, it was to be his opposing goalkeeper who would emerge as the hero come the end of the shootout.
‘You’re just a s**t Andy Carroll!’
Darwin Nunez ’s named was chanted around Anfield as he joined the action in the 66th minute, and again as he stepped up to take Liverpool’s fourth effort in the shoot-out. Yet the travelling Derby fans had their own choice of chant for the Uruguayan.
‘You’re just a s**t Andy Carroll!’ they sang as the striker stepped up. Fortunately, he’d silence them as he found the bottom corner, even if his side-footed effort was rather tame.
You doubt Nunez yet understands such a chant but he’s making a habit of silencing opposing supporters. Long may it continue!