Daniel Sturridge found his goalscoring form as a strong Liverpool side breezed past Burton Albion 5-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.
Burton boss Nigel Clough, a former Reds striker, has a good record as a manager against Premier League opposition, claiming draws against Manchester United and Tottenham and beating Aston Villa, Fulham, West Ham, Southampton and QPR during his spells in charge of Albion and Sheffield United.
But another giant-killing never looked likely and two quick goals from Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino just before the midway point of the first half pretty much killed the game as a contest.
In the second half, Tom Naylor had the misfortune of scoring an own goal against the club he supported as a boy before substitute Daniel Sturridge netted a late double.
The size of the tasking facing Burton, a non-League club just seven years ago, was not lost on Clough pre-match. Now in the Sky Bet Championship after a rapid rise through the leagues, it was only Burton’s 15th tie in the competition – by contrast Liverpool have been in 12 finals, winning eight.
Burton were on the back foot from the off. Origi latched on to Sadio Mane’s through ball down the right side of the penalty area but shot straight at goalkeeper Stephen Bywater.
Mane was involved again shortly afterwards, starting a move which saw Adam Lallana’s cross find Firmino but Bywater pushed his powerful header wide.
Bywater was busy again when he rushed out to block at the feet of Origi but he was beaten after 15 minutes and Mane was again the architect, showing good feet inside the box to create space to cross for Origi who turned the ball in from close range with a back heel flick.
Lallana sent a header wide as the Premier League team continued to create openings before Bywater’s good early work was undone in the 22nd minute after his mistake led to Liverpool’s second goal. The goalkeeper’s throw out was intercepted and Nathaniel Clyne surged down the right wing before crossing for Firmino to head home.
To their credit Burton played some good football at times but struggled to create any chances. Defender Kyle McFadzean sent a header wide just before half-time from a set-piece.
It took Liverpool until the 61st minute to extend their lead. Emre Can flicked on James Milner’s corner and the ball hit Naylor on the hip and went in.
There was a rare chance for Burton immediately afterwards but Lucas Akins shot wide from inside the box after latching onto a long pass.
Sturridge found his range with a 22-yard effort that Bywater had to tip wide before tapping in from close range after 78 minutes following good play down the right from Milner and Mane.
Five minutes later, and following Mane’s third assist of the night, Sturridge powered a shot into the bottom corner of the net from 18 yards to complete the scoring.