Home » EPL, Latest, League Cup » Match Report: Exeter City 1 Liverpool 3

The old maxim goes that you can’t put a price on peace of mind. After spending more than £100 million of John Henry’s money in the last year, peace of mind is probably the least expected of Kenny Dalglish, and he duly made sure of a comfortable night by watching a strong starting eleven despatch League One Exeter with a degree of comfort.

Dalglish made his first statement of intent on the team-sheet. This was to be no relaxed run-out for the reserves, but an audition for Liverpool’s A-listers, with Premier League starting berths yet to be nailed down. Around £75 million worth of talent took to the pitch, with £35 million more in the shape of Andy Carroll joining them midway through the first half.

Carroll replaced Raul Meireles, who went off with a suspected dislocated shoulder after a challenge from Danny Coles. This was a great shame, as for the first quarter of the game Meireles was its highlight, enriching Liverpool’s attacks with deft lay-offs and neat flicks. There was enough evidence in his brief appearance to suggest that an Adam-Henderson-Meireles midfield trinity is worth further experimentation.

But of course Carroll introduces a third dimension of his own to Liverpool’s game, and within two minutes of his arrival he had caused consternation in the Exeter area. Jordan Henderson had space to cross on the Liverpool right — a recurring theme of the game — and under pressure, Artur Krysiak was unable to lay both hands on the ball. It looped out to Luis Suarez, whose volley was fierce, if stoppable. Richard Duffy got a foot to it on the line but failed to divert it to safety.

The goal settled Liverpool’s nerves, but it only sharpened Exeter’s under manager Paul Tisdale, they have been known to play an attractive passing game, but here they looked inhibited and short of ideas. With Liverpool passing their way through the centre, Exeter’s wide players were drawn narrower, leaving Jon Flanagan and Jack Robinson plenty of room to advance from full-back.

And yet, outplayed as they were, they could so easily have gone into the break level. Daniel Nardiello was allowed a free header from Chris Shephard’s free-kick, but headed it into the arms of Pepe Reina. Nardiello held his head in his hands as he took a look around. There had not been a Liverpool defender within five yards of him.

It was as close as Exeter got. Within 15 minutes of the restart, Liverpool had made the game safe. Both the second and third goals again grew from the fertile soil of right field. Henderson set Suarez away, the Uruguayan comfortably outpacing Billy Jones. Suarez’s low shot was blocked, but the rebound fell nicely for Maxi Rodriguez, who drilled the ball in low.

Suarez’s last act before making way for Stewart Downing on the hour mark was to begin the move that led to Liverpool’s third. Carroll received the ball on the edge of the box and, seeing no Exeter defender in any particular rush to dispossess him, let fly from 20 yards. Krysiak put in the dive, but it was pure window dressing. Fabulous goal.

Curiously, it was only the recognition that the tie was over that seemed to inspire Exeter to make a game of it. As Liverpool slipped into auto-pilot, Exeter swarmed at them, and thoroughly earned their consolation goal.

Nardiello twisted free of Martin Skrtel and made sure he caught the trailing leg. Penalty. Nardiello took it himself and blasted it home. “We’re going to win 4-3,” the home fans sang. Not a chance. In this game, you get what you pay for, and by full-time Exeter were not only spent but out-spent.

Match details

Exeter (4-5-1): Krysiak; Golbourne, Duffy, Coles (Nicholls 76), Jones; Dunne, Noble, Archibald-Henville, Shephard (McNish 65), Nardiello; Bauza (Keohane 26).
Subs: Pidgeley (g), Bennett, Frear, Logan.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Flanagan, Wilson, Skrtel, Robinson; Spearing, Adam (Shelvey 77), Henderson, Meireles (Carroll 20), Maxi; Suarez (Downing 59).
Subs: Doni (g), Enrique, Carragher, Kuyt.
Booked: Henderson.
Referee: A Bates (Staffordshire).

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.