Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi continued their EFL Cup love affairs as Liverpool edged past Preston North End 2-0 at Deepdale on Wednesday. 

Japan international Minamino made it five goals in four EFL Cup appearances before Origi scored for the 11th time in his 10th start in the competition with an impressively improvised backheel volley. 

Having been fortunate not to go behind in the first half when Sean Maguire, Ryan Ledson and Brad Potts failed to take their chances, Minamino made the breakthrough for Liverpool in the 62nd minute. 

The Premier League giants dominated possession throughout and were sure of a place in the quarter-finals for just the second time in five seasons after Origi somehow flicked the ball home with six minutes remaining. 

Preston initially looked more dangerous despite seeing less of the ball and ought to have taken the lead in the 28th minute when they had three chances in rapid succession. 

Adrian did brilliantly to deny Maguire from six yards after Joe Gomez was dispossessed, and Neco Williams' goal-line clearance kept Ledson out on the follow-up. The rebound fell to Potts, but he sliced his attempt high and wide.  

After wasting a chance at the start of the second half, there was no mistake from Minamino with his next opportunity as he stabbed in a cutback from Williams after a brilliant pass from Tyler Morton released the right-back.  

Kostas Tsimikas then rattled the crossbar with a deep cross and the ball fell to Williams, whose blocked shot sat up nicely for Origi to steer in a spectacular late second. 
 

What does it mean? Differing displays for full debutants  

Klopp handed a first senior appearance to Harvey Blair and a full debut to Morton as he made 11 changes from the 5-0 mauling of Manchester United in the Premier League at the weekend.  

Blair was extremely quiet in the front three, getting just nine touches of the ball before making way for Conor Bradley in the 55th minute.  

Morton, meanwhile, looked at home in the centre of midfield, spraying some lovely passes around – one of which was key to Minamino's goal. 

Wonderful Williams 

Making his first start since March having struggled with an ankle injury, Williams proved a difference-maker for the Reds. He made a crucial goal-line block in the first half and played a pivotal role in both Liverpool goals, though he was unable to take a late chance to get on the scoresheet himself. 

Mixed bag for Van den Berg 

Sepp van den Berg may be on loan at Preston from Liverpool, but he started in defence for the hosts and had a mixed outing. He gained possession 10 times, made four interceptions and two blocks – all of which were the most by a Preston player – but no other outfield team-mate gave the ball away more than him (13). 

What's next?  

Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, with Preston entertaining Luton Town in the Championship on the same day. 

Thiago Alcantara will miss Liverpool's next three matches, including the clash with Premier League champions Manchester City, due to a calf injury.

The midfielder sustained the problem during last week's 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Anfield and was replaced by Naby Keita after 62 minutes.

Keita was also injured in the EFL Cup win at Norwich City, suffering a foot concern during the first half at Carrow Road.

While Keita is due to sit out the league game at Brentford on Saturday and possibly the Champions League trip to Porto, Thiago is not expected to return until after the international break next month, meaning he will miss the meeting with Pep Guardiola's City on October 3.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday: "It's not 100 per cent clear when Thiago will be back. It's a muscle, in the calf. After the international break, probably. I don't think anything earlier is possible. We will have to see.

"[Keita is] Nothing really serious but it keeps him out for the next game for sure, maybe longer. It's of course not cool when the players have a good pre-season, can play a lot of games and are now out. It happens throughout the season. Hopefully, when they come back, that's it now and they can play the rest of the season."

Liverpool have started the season in strong fashion, with four wins and a draw from their first five top-flight games in which they have scored 12 goals and conceded just once.

However, Klopp is expecting a tough test against a Brentford side who shocked Arsenal on the opening day of their first campaign in the Premier League.

"I watched the press conference of [Brentford boss] Thomas Frank, and it was like one of the most entertaining things I've watched in the last few years. Half an hour talking about the different players – it was really good," said Klopp.

"The football they play is incredible, the organisation is incredible, so Thomas has obviously done a brilliant job, Brentford are doing a brilliant job. They show with lesser money how possible it is to create something really special.

"It reminds me of my time at Mainz: we had no money, we had to be really creative in the transfer market. There's a massive difference between the money Brentford has and Mainz had, but it shows it's still possible."

Takumi Minanimo will be hoping for his first league outing of the season after scoring twice in the 3-0 win at Norwich, and Klopp believes the Japan forward has become a "different player" since his loan spell with Southampton last season.

"Taki is really an outstanding talent," he said. "You come from Asia, go to Salzburg, come to Liverpool, Liverpool are not in the best phase of their lives, he came in when everything was difficult – no supporters in the stadium, all that stuff – and you need to get used to the Premier League. That's how it is.

"It helped massively that he went to Southampton. He came back a completely different player. You can see that now: his finishes are in an incredible moment, how he connects the game, how he drops at the right moment. He's a different package now. Players need time. He used that time."

Jurgen Klopp hailed Takumi Minamino as a "top character" after the Japanese forward fired Liverpool past Norwich City in the EFL Cup.

The Japan forward's two goals, either side of a header from Divock Origi, guided the Reds to a 3-0 win at Carrow Road.

Minamino's influence at Liverpool has not reached the levels some expected it might after he joined from Salzburg in January of last year, and he spent the second half of the 2020-21 season at Southampton.

For now he is back at Liverpool and keen to make an impression, and a smart turn and finish for Liverpool's opening goal was an example of his quality.

A recent minor knock set Minamino back slightly, but he looked sharp against the Canaries as both sides made sweeping personnel changes for the cup clash.

"Players need time to get back on track after an injury. But Taki is in a really good moment," Klopp said in a post-game news conference.

"He trained very well and deserved his two goals. For the first one he showed really good awareness, quick in mind and finished the situation off.

"He was really good in pre-season then he got injured, and now the rest of the season can start. 

"He was injured at the wrong moment. Coming back, it's sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character obviously and enjoyed the game tonight and that was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and it helped us."

Although Minamino caught the eye, his prospects of a run in Klopp's Premier League team look remote for now and it may be his appearances prove sporadic, spread across competitions.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino returned to training on Monday, Klopp said, after a hamstring injury lay-off, and when fit he remains ahead of Minamino in the pecking order.

"It is not too far away when he will play again," Klopp said of Firmino.

Liverpool's manager watched on appreciatively as teenagers Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley helped Liverpool get the job done, all three making their first-team debuts.

"I'm really happy for the boys, it was a big one for all three," said Klopp. "These boys are good and thank God they're ours."

Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino delivered for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool heaped on more misery for Norwich City by powering to a 3-0 win at Carrow Road in the EFL Cup.

Both forwards scored for the first time this season, Minamino's double sandwiching a fine header from Origi, as Klopp's fringe men proved too good for the Canaries.

There was a scare for Liverpool at 1-0 when Norwich were awarded a penalty, but Caoimhin Kelleher saved from Christos Tzolis as the hosts squandered their best chance.

With Norwich bottom of the Premier League after five consecutive defeats, this was a chance to lift spirits, but it only served as a reminder of their squad's shortcomings.

Liverpool took a fourth-minute lead when Minamino turned sharply inside the six-yard box after Divock Origi headed down a corner from Tsimikas. The Japanese forward fired low past Angus Gunn for the swift breakthrough.

Ibrahima Konate powered a header just over the bar from another corner as Liverpool chased a quick second goal.

Kaide Gordon, a 16-year-old winger, showed promise for Liverpool and cut in from the left in the style of Mohamed Salah before flashing a left-footed shot just wide of the right post, while Curtis Jones shot just over from 18 yards.

Norwich lacked a punch up front and that was summed up by Adam Idah's tame side-footed shot that Kelleher smothered easily, and doubly so when the goalkeeper saved the spot-kick from Tzolis with his feet after 18-year-old debutant Conor Bradley fouled Dimitris Giannoulis.

Security of a second goal came in the 50th minute when Tsimikas played a lovely cross from the byline to Origi on the edge of the six-yard box, and the striker did the rest with a precise header into the right corner.

Origi went close again as he placed a shot just wide, before Gordon smashed the ball over from a presentable chance, 10 yards out, lacking the composure that will come with experience. Minamino showed him the way with 10 minutes remaining, slotting past Gunn after being set up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Japan thumped Mongolia 14-0 at the Fukuda Denshi Arena on Tuesday to close in on the third round of Asia's qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup finals.

The win was Japan's second-biggest ever, behind their 15-0 thrashing of the Philippines in 1967, and leaves them needing victory against Myanmar in June to advance to the next phase.

Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino, who has spent the second half of the campaign on loan with Southampton, opened the scoring after 13 minutes before Werder Bremen's Yuya Osako scored the first of his three goals.

Daichi Kamada and Hidemasa Morita added their names to the scoresheet and Khash-Erdene Tuya put into his own net before half-time in the one-sided affair, which was played behind closed doors in Japan due to quarantine restrictions in Mongolia.

Osako's second goal arrived 10 minutes into the second half and substitute Sho Inagaki hit the designated away side's seventh with 68 minutes on the clock.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Junya Ito then added two more apiece, with the latter also setting up three of his side's goals.

The final three goals arrived in added time, with Inagaki completing the drubbing against a side ranked 190th in the world following a quickfire double from Takuma Asano and Osako.

 

Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and now Manchester United are all reportedly chasing Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Days out from his 22nd birthday, Donnarumma has reportedly closed a deal with the Red Devils.

Is David de Gea's future in doubt?

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS SWOOP FOR RECORD-BREAKER

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has agreed to a provisional deal with Manchester United, according to Todo Fichajes.

The report claims the deal would make the Italy star the best paid goalkeeper ever in world football.

United have had goalkeeping issues this season, with number one keeper David de Gea making a number of errors, while understudy Dean Henderson has made a handful of appearances.

Donnarumma, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Thursday, became the youngest player in Serie A history to reach 200 appearances in Sunday's 3-0 derby defeat to leaders Inter.

The 21-year-old's current deal with the Rossoneri expires at the end of this season and he has been linked with a host of clubs including Serie A champions Juventus, Champions League holders Bayern Munich and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

A second-half penalty from Mason Mount secured a 1-1 draw for Chelsea away to Southampton on Saturday.

Saints took the lead with their first shot of the game at St Mary's Stadium, Takumi Minamino becoming the first opposition player to score against Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel 33 minutes in.

Mount won and converted a spot-kick in the second half to reach four Premier League goals for the season – all of which have come on Chelsea's travels – as the Blues edged into the top four.

Jannik Vestergaard hit the woodwork with a header but Southampton did at least end their six-match losing run, with a healthy gap of 11 points to the bottom three.

Many of Chelsea's early attacks came through Marcos Alonso, who scuffed a volley wide from a good position after being picked out by Reece James.

The visitors enjoyed 73 per cent of the ball in the first half-hour but their only attempt on target was a speculative strike from Antonio Rudiger that was easily saved by Alex McCarthy.

Southampton then snatched the lead with their first chance of the match, Minamino sitting down keeper Edouard Mendy and the covering Cesar Azpilicueta before prodding the ball in after Nathan Redmond's pass split the defence.

Saints were keeping Chelsea at bay well until 54 minutes in, when Mount converted from the spot after Danny Ings' careless lunge brought him down in the penalty area.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men reacted well to the goal and nearly went back in front when Vestergaard's stooping header came back off the crossbar, with Mendy beaten.

Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi threatened late on, but Chelsea ended the half with just one shot on target at the end of a somewhat blunt attacking display.

 

What does it mean? Blues into top four but winning run ends

Chelsea were on a five-game winning run under Tuchel in all competitions but not all have been plain sailing and they are yet to score more than twice in a game under the German.

They were mostly frustrated by a resolute Southampton here, who brought their six-game losing run in the top flight to an end.

They are 13th, while Chelsea move a point above West Ham and into fourth, having played a game more.

Jannik on his Gaard

Southampton's losing run, and that 9-0 obliteration by Manchester United, had prompted plenty of worry about the state of their defence.

They were far stronger and more organised here, with Vestergaard immaculate, making seven clearances, four interceptions and regaining possession eight times.

Ings can only get better

Ings has the best minutes-per-goal ratio of any Southampton striker with at least 15 goals in the Premier League, averaging one every 161 minutes before this game.

However, with chances scarce, he offered little as an outlet to the Saints defence, touching the ball just 29 times and conceding the penalty with a reckless tackle.

What's next?

Chelsea's attention now turns to Tuesday's Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid. Saints are in league action the same day at Leeds United.

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Southampton have signed Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Liverpool sanctioned a deadline-day temporary move for Japanese star Minamino on Monday after Southampton allowed Shane Long to join promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth on loan.

Minamino has made 31 appearances and scored four goals for Premier League champions Liverpool since arriving from Austrian giants Salzburg in January last year.

The 26-year-old Japan international has scored one goal in nine Premier League matches this season, and four across all competitions.

"I am very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season," said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

"He will help provide another good attacking option, and is importantly the right profile of player for us.

"This will give us some additional depth in our squad at an important time, and I am looking forward to beginning work with him on the training pitch."

Southampton are 11th in the Premier League, 11 points behind third-placed Liverpool – who are four points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

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