Liverpool’s youngsters looked like experienced pros: Alan Shearer
The English Premier League's all-time top scorer Alan Shearer hailed the maturity of Liverpool's young guns after they pulled off a 1-0 win against a virtually full strength Everton in the FA Cup third round yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The Reds made nine changes to the side that beat Sheffield United last week, fielding the likes of Harvey Elliott, 16; Curtis Jones, 18; Neco Williams, 18; Pedro Chirivella, 22 and Nathaniel Phillips, 22.
Liverpool-born academy product Jones grabbed the winner in the Merseyside Derby in the 71st minute, collecting the ball outside the area on the left and bending a shot into the far corner, off the underside of the crossbar.
His goal, which makes him Liverpool's youngest goalscorer in the derby since Robbie Fowler in 1994, means the Reds have not lost to their local rivals at Anfield in 23 games.
Said former England and Newcastle United striker Shearer on the BBC: "Absolutely magnificent performance from Liverpool.
"The reason why Everton were hopeless second half was because Liverpool did not allow them to play.
"They were better in possession, they were better out of possession, they looked more comfortable on the ball, they created more chances.
"The youngsters looked as if they were the experienced professionals and been around for years when it should have been the other way around."
Shearer reserved special praise for Jones, writing in his column for The Sun: "Another great young talent announced himself on the scene in the shape of Curtis Jones.
"His winner for Liverpool against Everton was an absolute cracker and I loved the fact he complained that he hadn't been getting enough chances at a club who are beating everyone in its path.
"He's only 18 yet he knows what he wants and is determined to get it."
Shearer was referring to Jones' post-match comments, when he said: "It's been frustrating at times being on the bench and then getting a taste on the pitch and then being back on the bench.
"I've been basically begging to come on, but hopefully I've topped it off with a good goal."
The sight of the teen curling in a winner that any of his first-choice stars would have been proud of came as no surprise to Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
He said: "Unbelievable player, Scouser, very confident, can't wait to play in the first team. Good, rightly so, he is (on) a very good way.
"I have known him for 3½ years, he has made big steps, will 100 per cent be a Liverpool player, if nothing strange happens. Great.
"That he scores that goal? I am not surprised. He is for these situations... Sometimes people forget in training, he is 18, unbelievable."
Klopp also heaped praise on new signing Takumi Minamino, who was making his debut after a £7.3 million (S$12.9m) move from Red Bull Salzburg.
Said the German: "Super, outstanding. Exactly the player we wanted, exactly the player we wished for...
"Showing this kind of game understanding, football skills are exceptional, attitude is outstanding, led the chasing pack so often in different situations, which I loved."