Never in doubt.
The inclusion of Virgil in the starting XI raised a few eyebrows, although it would not have been the wisest decision to blood two young central defenders together, but the team was otherwise a mixture of fringe senior players and promising youngsters.
Rhys Williams and Tsimikas both made their Liverpool debuts, while Grujic appeared for the first time in nearly three years. All three played well and I, for one, will be sad to see the back of the gangly Serbian if he is indeed sold this month. I think he’s certainly capable of filling in as a backup player here. His passing was excellent tonight and his positional play has improved considerably, although today’s opponents didn’t provide the most severe of tests. Excellent finish for his goal, feinting to the right and then catching the keeper out with little backlift.
That rare species the lesser spotted Shaqiri opened the scoring with a quality free kick- real “postage stamp” stuff, to use the cliche. Taki soon made it two, curling into the same corner with elan, while Jones added a third right in the same spot.
Curtis, who had an outstanding half quite apart from his goals, scored his second- and our fourth- with a deflected shot in the 36th minute. He is pushing for a place in the first team but faces stiff competition from Baby, Gini and Ox in that attacking central midfield role. Still, I’d love to see him given a run of games rather than just featuring in domestic cup ties; he could be special.
Speaking of special, our brand new away kit deserves a mention. That was it.
Virg was replaced by Fabinho at half time, as Operation 4th Choice Centre Half continued, and Taki immediately added a fifth after another brilliant ball by Jones and a blocked effort from Elliott allowed our Japanese international to tap in.
Adrián made a sharp save in the first half and a couple more at the start of the second; he should be fine as our number two until the much vaunted Marcelo Pitaluga is ready.
Harvey had a quiet game and was replaced just before the hour by the new £41m acquisition from Wolves, Diogo Jota. Lincoln missed a glorious chance to get on the scoresheet shortly afterwards but Edun converted coolly a few seconds later- he surely won’t forget his first Lincoln goal, with it coming against the mighty Reds. Lincoln soon scored another after some sloppy defending, the former Burberry model Lewis Montsma crashing home a header off the bar from close range.
The game then petered out- Archibald might have done better when given the chance to score a third for the home side- and it was job done for our reserve team. Divock added a late seventh goal after a driving run from Taki- a real captain’s goal for the big Belgian. Overall, Jones was obviously the standout performer but Grujic and Taki get honourable mentions too.
So a double-header against Arsenal next: League on Monday and Carabao Cup a few days later. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this team again in the cup tie; they certainly deserve another chance. Two wins please, lads.
MOTM: those wonderful people at Quinta do Crasto. I thought I’d celebrate Jota’s debut with a bottle of port and they don’t come much better than their wonderful 2015 vintage. Still young but promising more to come … like tonight’s team.