Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp picked out several youngsters for praise after the Reds booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night by beating Preston 2-0 at Deepdale.
The Reds required third-choice goalkeeper Adrian to make some fine stops in the first half and Neco Williams had to make a goalline block.
But a youthful eleven, which consisted of 11 changes from Sunday’s thrashing of Manchester United, improved after the break after a toothless first 45 minutes.
Liverpool finally broke the deadlock against their Championship opponents in the 62nd minute thanks to Takumi Minamino’s cute finish from a Williams cross.
And Divock Origi made sure of Liverpool’s victory with a brilliantly improvised goal that saw him backheel the ball over his own head into the back of the net late on.
The win means Liverpool are unbeaten in 23 matches across all competitions stretching back to last season.
And Klopp hailed Williams and also reserved praise for Tyler Morton, debutant Harvey Blair, and substitutes Conor Bradley, Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Owen Beck too.
He said: “We started quite well. Then they played long balls and they were tricky to defend. They had their moments. The game was kind of open.
“You could see we lost our structure which never helps in football, especially not tonight when you have the ball that much.
“We couldn’t create too much in the first half. Then second half I think the little change helped. Neco in the first goal, nice finish.
“Second goal was a bit of a strange one but Divock showed his skills in that moment. Could’ve scored a third goal, would’ve been nice but it’s not important.
“Preston played an inspired game. Atmosphere was nice, no-one got injured. Perfect night.”
Right-back and man of the match Williams said post-match: “We knew it weren’t going to be easy. Preston are a good side and gave us a tough game. We didn’t play our best football but we did enough to get the win and we’re happy with that.
“I’ve got to thank Taki and Divock for them goals, they saved me there but great finishes. The team put a shift in and we worked our balls off and we got the win.
“All the lads put a shift in from the goalkeeper to the strikers. I’m thankful we got the win and I made contributions to the goals.”
While former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports: “It’s a great result for Liverpool. Wasn’t easy as Preston had a lot of chances in the first half and could have been one or two ahead.
“Liverpool had that extra quality and I knew Minamino would score because he has that extra quality in front of goal.
“That goal from Origi was incredible. We’ve seen improvisation from the likes of [Olivier] Giroud and [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan but that was brilliant.”
Liverpool will learn their quarter-final opponents on Saturday morning with the last-eight draw being conducted on Soccer AM, which begins at 10.30am.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Sunderland, Tottenham, Leicester, Brentford and West Ham are the possible opponents with the Hammers knocking out holders Manchester City on penalties.
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