Premier League • England

Klopp explains key change that unlocked Liverpool creativity as boss namechecks two youngsters

Jurgen Klopp being interviewed in the rain

Jurgen Klopp pointed to a small change made in the second half that allowed Liverpool to exert their control in their 2-0 win over Preston North End.

Liverpool made it to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals thanks to goals from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi. Preston made them work for the win, but a few players took their chances to stand out and the result was all that mattered in the end.

The Reds will learn on Saturday who they will be playing in the last eight. Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Leicester, Sunderland, Tottenham and West Ham are the other sides who remain in the competition.

There will be other things occupying Klopp’s mind until then – namely their next matches in the Premier League and Champions League – but for now he could reflect on Wednesday’s win.

“We started quite well. Then they played long balls and they were tricky to defend,” he said.

“They had their moments. The game was kind of open.

“You could see we lost our structure which never helps in football, especially not tonight when you have the ball that much.

“We couldn’t create too much in the first half. Then second half I think the little change helped.

“Obviously the game for Harvey [Blair] in the first half was really not easy.

“Second half we didn’t really involve him but when you cannot train a lot together, these things happen. We decided to change things and push Neco [Williams] higher and bring Conor [Bradley] on. Both did really well and were really involved.

“Neco in the first goal, nice finish. Second goal was a bit of a strange one but Divock showed his skills in that moment. Could’ve scored a third goal, would’ve been nice but it’s not important.

“Preston played an inspired game. Atmosphere was nice, no-one got injured. Perfect night.”

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Klopp then elaborated on the impact Williams had in the final third, before admitting the overall performance did have some aspects he didn’t like.

“Especially when he played higher up the field, Neco was good. It was really good,” he said. “Before then he couldn’t find the position as well.

“You could see all the boys can play so much better football but when you don’t feel the game, you play a little bit too much the position and not enough the game, it looks a little bit stiff.

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“We had these moments tonight. We stood in each other’s way and didn’t find the right spaces. I’ve seen games like this more often than I wanted and it can happen.

“We had to stay in the game, we defended the situations. We needed Adrian with some incredible saves in the first half and in the end, clean sheet, two goals scored, not too long a drive home. All good.”

Williams reacts to standout display

Neco Williams protecting the ball

Williams won the man of the match award after playing a role in setting up both goals. He also had a late chance to score himself.

The right-back, who later moved further forward onto the wing, was happy with how his side worked.

“Preston are a good side, they gave us a good game,” he said on Sky Sports. “We didn’t play our best football but we did enough to get the win and we’re happy with that.

“The team put a shift in, we worked them.”

Williams also had an impact in the defensive third, making a goalline block with his face when the score was 0-0.

“It smashed me in the mouth and I didn’t remember much,” he explained. “I was there on the line and I thought I’d have a good chance of blocking it. Luckily it’s smashed me in the face and stopped a goal.”

Overall, he was pleased with his performance, adding: “I tried to play as high as I can. I should have got on the scoresheet but never mind. Hopefully next game I score.

“I think I did well, I gave everything I had. I got a bit of cramp towards the end but I think that’s just down to hard work.”

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