Jurgen Klopp secured his first victory as Liverpool manager as Nathaniel Clyne’s first-half goal gave a much-changed side a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. In his fourth match in charge, Klopp handed full debuts to three players, and it was one of them who provided the inspiration for the only goal at Anfield. Portugal Under-21 international João Teixeira’s wonderfully inventive back-heel may have been cleared off the line, but Clyne was on hand to follow up and give Liverpool a 17th-minute lead that they never relinquished.
Klopp had described the Capital One Cup as “very, very important” ahead of his first taste of the competition, but after three games in eight days and with a Premier League match with Chelsea upcoming, he made 10 changes to his lineup. Along with Philippe Coutinho starting on the bench, Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge were ruled out through injury, leaving the former Borussia Dortmund coach short of his main attacking threats.
It will be a huge relief then that he has broken his duck as Liverpool boss and snapped a five-game drawing streak dating back to Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge. And those that did start in attack made a positive impression. Divock Origi remains without a goal in a Liverpool shirt, but he played his part in the only goal on Wednesday, as did Roberto Firmino, making his first start under Klopp and fully justifying the pre-match plaudits from a manager who saw him first-hand in Germany with Hoffenheim.
Origi’s run down the right and Firmino’s perfectly weighted pass warrant praise but what really caught the eye was Teixeira’s piece of skill to beat Bournemouth goalkeeper Adam Federici. Adam Smith did well to get back and cover on the line, but Clyne, forward from an unfamiliar left-back role, netted his first goal in a Liverpool shirt.
Taking Clyne’s place on the right of defense was 20-year-old debutante Connor Randall, while 19-year-old Cameron Brannagan made his first start in midfield alongside Joe Allen. But Bournemouth, with their focus firmly on avoiding relegation straight back to the Championship, also rang the changes, making six in all. That number would likely have been higher had it not been for an injury crisis that had contributed to back-to-back 5-1 defeats in the Premier League.
Manager Eddie Howe may ultimately not be all that disappointed to miss out on a quarterfinal spot in the League Cup. And he can reflect on an improved performance from his side and the fact that, through Junior Stanislas, they forced three good saves from Liverpool’s Adam Bogdan to keep Bournemouth out in the first half. The Liverpool understudy had to be alert, too, to maintain Liverpool’s lead late on. This, though, was Klopp’s night.