Belfast Telegraph

Kop is pleased with Klopp's kids but Benteke flops

Liverpool 3-0 Exeter City

By Carl Markham

Jurgen Klopp praised Christian Benteke despite him going without a goal in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Exeter.

The Belgian was one of the bigger names in Liverpool's line-up for the third-round replay at Anfield, but goals eluded him as the League Two side were beaten 3-0.

Benteke's position as Liverpool's number nine has been questioned lately, but Klopp was happy with his man.

"I saw him after the game, he was in good shape," said Reds boss Klopp.

"There were a lot of situations at the beginning of the game where the referee said Christian made a foul - it was not easy for him, but he got 92 minutes and that was important for me.

"It would have been good for him and us had he scored, but he worked the spaces around the box well.

"Whenever a striker doesn't score he's not satisfied. That's normal."

West Ham await for Liverpool in round four - the Hammers have done the double over the Reds in the Barclays Premier League - and Klopp added: "We know the next opponent and we have to correct things after we didn't play well and show we can play better against them."

Maiden Liverpool goals for youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Joao Carlos Teixeira sealed victory.

Midfielder Joe Allen's second in as many matches had set the Reds on their way to a home meeting with West Ham a week on Saturday but it was members of Klopp's reserves who finished the job.

The way in which teenage substitute Ojo, recalled early from a loan spell with Wolves, curled a brilliant effort past Bobby Olejnik provided a lesson in finishing for an out-of-sorts Benteke who looked anything but a £32million Belgium international against a League Two defence.

Klopp made three changes from the scratch side he fielded in the previous tie, bringing in some experience in goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Allen and Jordon Ibe while handing Tiago Ilori, Brad Smith and Kevin Stewart their senior Anfield debuts.

Confidence shown by the likes of youngsters Teixeira, whose sublime cross with the outside of his right foot was among his many contributions, Cameron Brannagan and Smith was not so evident in Benteke.

He was hailed pre-match by Klopp as "a complete striker" as the German offered a defence for the summer signing's troubles but he looked far from it.

His one telling contribution of the first half was to exchange passes with Smith to allow the Australian to cross for Allen's goal in a well-worked move and he also had a hand in Teixeira's goal late on.

There were far more entries in his debit column, however, as he failed to impose himself on a League Two defence and failing to hit the target with his close-range header from an inviting Teixeira cross highlighted his troubles.

There were other examples though: a mis-hit shot from the edge of the penalty area, a free header into the side-netting, a mis-control knocking the ball out for a goal-kick prompting 'What a waste of money' chants from visiting fans in the Anfield Road end and - with the last chance of the game - fluffing his lines after rounding Olejnik on the counter-attack.

For a man of such physical size Benteke was also out-muscled too easily, with Troy Brown easing him off the ball as he charged through on goal in the second half.

Either side of half-time Ibe fizzed one shot just over and had another clawed back from almost behind the line by Olejnik.

But the goalkeeper could do nothing about Ojo's superb individual 75th minute strike as he shifted the ball onto his left foot and curled a shot into the far top corner.

With Exeter tiring fast, fellow sub Teixeira benefited from some nifty footwork from Benteke to cap a memorable night for Klopp's youngsters.

The other positive of the night was the return of Jon Flanagan as a second-half substitute 619 days after his last appearance after recovering from two knee operations.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Randall (Flanagan 51), Ilori, Enrique, Smith, Brannagan, Stewart, Allen (Ojo 65), Ibe (Chirivella 79), Benteke, Teixeira.

Goals: Allen 10, Ojo 74, Teixeira 82

Subs not used: Bogdan, Kent, Sinclair, Maguire.

EXETER: Olejnik, Ribeiro, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman, Butterfield (Hoskins 45), Nicholls, Oakley (Wheeler 64), Davies, Holmes, Morrison (Nichols 45).

Subs not used: McAllister, Hamon, Tillson, Grant.

Man of the match: Jordon Ibe (pictured)

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

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