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Klopp’s Kids March Past Saints

With the old enemy down the East Lancs Road waiting in the quarter-final, Jurgen Klopp’s kids eased past Southampton in the FA Cup. A brace from Jayden Danns, and an earlier deflected effort from Lewis Koumas, both just 18, giving Liverpool a 3-0 victory.

With Wembley goal scoring hero Virgil van Dijk probably the only guaranteed starter if Klopp had a full compliment of players to pick from, it was the kids once again who took Liverpool over the line. Yes, they struggled early on, with the visitors creating enough chances to have gone a couple ahead, but as the first half progressed, confidence increased.

Senior players, Kostas Tsimikas, Joe Gomez, Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott provided ballast to youngsters, who at times were stretched and lost possession due to lacking physicality. Southampton meanwhile, squandered some great opportunities and saw themselves fall behind just as half-time beckoned.

Having created very little in the opening half, Koumas took the chance to shoot from just inside the penalty box and a friendly deflection saw the ball nestle into the net in the 44th minute. Though the lead may have been slightly undeserved, it clearly instilled what was effectively a youth team, with the belief to play with more freedom and composure attacking the Kop in the second half.

Having started with Van Dijk alongside Jarell Quansah in the centre of defence, it was Ibou Konate who replaced the Dutchman in the second period. The Frenchman’s steel in the tackle giving Saints a little something extra to think about and, though Russell Martin’s men continued to make chances, Liverpool began to control the game and then up stepped Danns. It was a goal reminiscent of King Kenny’s at Wembley in 1978, with Elliott playing him in. He proceeded to lift the ball over the sliding and prostate goalkeeper. The Kop, like Danns, were elated and just 15 minutes later he added a second.

This time the youngster, who just a week ago had yet to make his senior debut, followed in a thumping shot from Conor Bradley. The goalkeeper failed to palm the ball far enough from goal and the young striker, on his toes in the box, stroked the ball home.

So having named a starting 11, with six players aged 21 or under, Klopp saw his youngsters do him proud. They ran themselves into the ground, gave absolutely everything and, with a buoyant crowd serenading them with ‘we haven’t won a trophy since Saturday afternoon’, they left the pitch with tumultuous applause ringing in their ears.

Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

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