The Baby Reds enjoyed their outing on the hallowed turf of Anfield, as they got the job done against a plucky Exeter side to enter the four the round of the FA Cup. It was a refreshing performance as the youngsters were sprightly and eager, and with a certain little Welshman seeming like a man on a mission, we proved to have just too much quality, that Exeter’s desire and spirit couldn’t make up for. Here’s how each player fared for the Reds.
Simon Mignolet – 6
Barely had a kick of the ball throughout the game. Was a silent spectator as Exeter barely threatened his goal.
Connor Randall – 6
Not much to do defensively, as Exeter barely used the width of the pitch. He himself might have wanted to do more going forward, but it wasn’t to be.
Tiago Ilori – 6.5
A much better performance from the Portuguese youngster. After having been slightly shaky in the first game, it was a more assured, much better, solid all-round performance.
Jose Enrique – 6
As with Ilori, he didn’t look half as bad as he did in the first leg. Still went AWOL on occasion, and one cannot help but feel that with Steven Caulker being available from the next round onwards, Enrique might just have played his last game for Liverpool.
Brad Smith – 7.5
Over the two games, he probably takes the plaudits as the standout youngster on show. It was an effervescent performance from Smith, especially in the first-half, as he ran beyond Exeter time and again. He got himself an assist for Allen’s goal. It is a welcome sign for Klopp that Smith is doing well, as Alberto Moreno might need cover at left back.
Kevin Stewart – 6.5
A busy performance from the man whom Jurgen Klopp trusted with playing the deepest role in midfield. Nicked in and broke Exeter attacks on a few occasions, but there were a couple of slips that might have been punished on another day.
Joe Allen – 7.5
The Welshman got himself a goal to make it two goals in successive appearances. His all-round play was nice to see. But one must be mindful of the quality of the opposition while judging his performance.
Cameron Brannagan – 8
In my view, he is one of the brightest talents coming out of the academy. Very eager to get on the ball, sees a pass, and has a mean strike on him. For a man as small as he is, he never shys away from a tackle and his pressing today was immaculate as well.
Jordon Ibe – 8
On the day, Ibe was among the senior statesmen in the side, and I would say he proved his stature with that display. Put in some fabulous crosses, and stung the Exeter goalkeeper’s palms on a couple of occasions. He was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a bullet of a left-footed strike. In the end, he did manage an assist for Ojo’s goal.
Joao Carlos Teixeira – 8.5
My Man of the Match. He’s a very tidy little player. Was always on the move from his starting position on the left flank, ensuring Smith had the space to run into. Took his goal fabulously. Might have had an assist or two if Benteke had been on his A-game.
Christian Benteke – 5
Another disappointing outing for the big Belgian. Missed a routine header from point blank range in the first-half, and another chance deep into injury time – a miss that is becoming a Benteke trademark. But his troubles didn’t stop there. He wasn’t in the right positions for a lot of crosses that came in often finding himself on the edge of the area when he should have been near the penalty spot.
Jon Flanagan – 6
It was such a pleasure to see him back playing for the first team after what has been a torrid 18 months. It was an ideal game for him to get eased into as Exeter didn’t muster too much of a threat. He will look to build on his form and fitness as he stakes his claim to Klopp as a contender for one of the full-back positions.
Sheyi Ojo – 7.5
What a sublime finish that was from Ojo. He proved with that goal why Klopp wanted to bring him back from his loan at Wolves. Became Liverpool’s youngest FA Cup goalscorer in the process.
Pedro Chirivella – NA
Didn’t have enough time on the pitch for me to actually rate him, but he did set Benteke off deep into second-half stoppage time, only for the Belgian to fluff his lines.