Burton Albion 0
Liverpool 5 Origi 15', Firmino 22', Naylor (OG) 61', Sturridge 78', 83'
Liverpool respond to last weekend's debacle in the best possible manner; a dominant victory where one was expected.
Jürgen Klopp made four changes to the side that lost to Burnley on Saturday, handing an official debut to Joël Matip, and reintroducing Divock Origi, Emre Can and Sadio Mané to the starting eleven. James Milner returned to left-back, with Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne rounding out the defense. Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson shuttled in the midfield three, while Roberto Firmino started wide left.
The game nearly got off to a disastrous start, as Lovren hooked the Burton striker's leg in the box, bringing him down, but no foul was called. Liverpool then took control of proceedings, dominating possession and interchanging positions while stroking the ball around with confidence, finding space between the lines of Albion's 3-5-2 formation.
Five minutes in, Origi shot straight at the goalkeeper after being slid in by Mané, before a gorgeous piece of interplay between the two set up Lallana for the cross. His delivery found the head of Firmino, but the effort was well saved by Bywater. Mané and Origi were at the center of events fifteen minutes in, as the Senegalese winger torched his man on the right hand side and cut the ball back to his Belgian striker in the six yard box. A deft backheeled finish and Liverpool were in front.
The Reds' dominance continued, and Lallana should have made it two when Henderson found him at the far post with a beautiful inswinging cross, but the former Southampton man was unable to make good contact on the ball. A sloppy throw from Bywater was intercepted by Mané near the halfway line minutes later, and he immediately set Clyne free down the right. The right-back's cross was perfect, enabling Firmino to tuck the ball home from six yards.
The game slowed down from there, with Liverpool confident and Burton unable to string together any attacking play. In the minutes before half-time, Mané was again involved. He first found a way through on goal but was unable to sort his feet out for a shot. Soon after, he was brought down by the last man in what looked a strong penalty shout. Again, the referee made no call.
The second half started slowly, with the hosts keeping the ball much better and Liverpool sitting deeper, but the Brewers weren't able to fashion any proper chances. On the hour mark, a Milner corner was flicked on by Can, and bundled into his own net by the unfortunate Tom Naylor.
Satisfied with proceedings, Klopp brought on Georginio Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge for Lallana and Firmino. Another Nathaniel Clyne cross was nearly tucked home by Origi, before ETW reared its head and Emre Can went down with a non-contact knee injury. The German walked off the pitch of his own power, but Kevin Stewart came on in his place.
Fifteen minutes from time, Mané found Milner down the right channel, and the makeshift fullback delivered a perfect cross to the far post, where an onrushing Sturridge could tuck the ball home. Sturridge displayed his excellence yet again five minutes later, as Mané drew four defenders and squared the ball to him. Sturridge took a touch to set himself and then hammered the ball into the near corner for an emphatic 5-0 scoreline.
Naturally, there would be some more worries before the final whistle, as Origi went down with a knock and left the pitch for the Reds to finish the game with ten men.
As far as replies to criticism go, this was as good as it gets. Evident in his chosen lineup, Klopp came into this match wanting an assertive performance and dominant win, and he got just that. The Liverpool players worked hard in both directions for the full 90 minutes, and Burton never really had much of a sniff at goal.
Sadio Mané was the obvious standout on the night, drifting into dangerous positions, at times coming deep, at times stretching the defense, and always, always looking to make things happen. He was at the heart of nearly every threatening Liverpool attack, ending the match with two assists and two secondary assists. Daniel Sturridge looked venomous when he came on, and Joël Matip was an assured presence at the back.
The injuries are the only real downside of the night's performance, and with no word yet on how serious either of them are, one can still hope that both Origi and Can are fit and available for Saturday's lunchtime match against Tottenham.