Liverpool will play Arsenal in the fourth round of the League Cup after they thumped Lincoln City 7-2 away.
A brace of goals from both Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones, as well as further strikes from Divock Origi, Marko Grujic, and Xherdan Shaqiri sealed the much-changed Reds’ passage into the next round.
The game was seen as a shop window for some of Liverpool’s fringe players and Shaqiri, in particular, would have done either his prospects of remaining part of Jurgen Klopp’s plans or earning a move elsewhere no harm with a wonderful performance.
The Swiss international opened the scoring with an accurately struck free-kick from 25 yards out with the ball kissing the underside of the crossbar on its way in.
The first half more resembled a goal of the season contest when Minamino doubled the lead with a curling effort from just outside the box.
Not to be outdone by his Japanese team-mate, Jones added two more goals — the second of which took a deflection — from similar positions, to the left of the box, with two, curling strikes.
A strong save from Adrian and a missed header — when he ought to have done better from five yards out — from Lewis Monstma preserved Liverpool’s clean sheet and they went into the interval holding a 4-0 lead.
The visitors started the second half in an ambitious fashion and had their fifth goal barely a minute into proceedings. Harvey Elliott should have scored when through on goal after a typically quick and incisive passing move, but his low effort was saved, but — thankfully from a Liverpool perspective — Minamino picked up the pieces to tap into an empty net for his second goal.
Lincoln, to their huge credit, were not overawed by the prospect of a huge defeat and earned themselves some respect by scoring twice in the second half.
First, after slack defending from Neco Williams, Tayo Edum finished cutely into the bottom right corner and then, after Adrian misjudged the flight of a corner, Monstma — making amends for his earlier miss — headed in off the underside of the crossbar.
The Imps goals sandwiched a Marko Grujic strike with the Serbian — a physical and defensively solid presence in the engine room throughout the game — shooting low and into the bottom corner in what well could be his final appearance in the club.
New signing Diogo Jota was given a debut when he replaced Elliott late on.
The Reds would have the last flourish and registered their seventh goal when man of the match Minamino found Origi with an accurate through ball and the Belgian fired low past Alex Palmer — a shot he should perhaps have saved — to put the icing on the cake.
Much tougher tasks await, but the goals, the solid performance of Kostas Tsimikas and young Rhys Williams and the emergence of Minamino as a player fully in tune with the Liverpool style will give Klopp ample reason to be pleased.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Williams, Williams, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Grujic, Jones, Shaqiri, Elliott, Origi, Minamino.
Replacements: Jota for Elliott, Fabinho for van Dijk, Keita for Shaqiri.