Paul Tisdale’s side celebrated the 2-2 draw at St James Park in the first leg of the FA Cup tie against an inexperienced Liverpool side that was there for the taking. Jurgen Klopp set out a pretty young side with just 3 senior team players for that game.
The 2nd setup of Liverpool managed to come back from twice from a goal down to bring this game to Anfield. Exeter always knew it was going to be tough to get a result from Anfield but Tisdale revealed that he had a plan for the first half which he hoped would work.
Klopp, this time, chose to start Mignolet on goal, Allen in the mid-field and Ibe on the wing to give Liverpool greater penetration but it was always going to be about how the young guns of the Merseyside academy fair in their first collective outing at Anfield.
The first few minutes of the game already set the tone as Exeter were happy to have people behind the ball. But some incision from Benteke and some drive from the left back Brad Smith, gave Joe Allen another goal to back his equalizer at Arsenal.
Liverpool created a number of chances in the half with Ibe, Allen and Teixeira all playing their part and creating chances but the big story of the half or the game really was the big Belgian Christian Benteke. Benteke was set out to impress each and every Kopite who had been doubting him since his move to Anfield.
He had some great chances, much notably a header from 6 yards out but never quite found the back of the net. The homes side pushed on but ended the half with just one goal ahead and needing one more at least to keep some breathing space.
As if the Anfield crowd were needing a lift in the midst of all the chances created, local boy Jon Flanagan made his comeback into the senior team after a 20-month injury lay-off. He slotted right into his position and looked cool and collective to see off the game.
But not before a moment of brilliance from Sheyi Ojo another substitute put one curling past an unmoved Olejnik as he set off celebrating his first senior and Anfield goal.
Joao Carlos Teixeira also got his first senior goal as he blast one past the keeper after some nimble feet by Benteke and a great pass to set him up. The tie was all set and done even as Tisdel tried to alter things with plenty of changes in the second half.
But the difference in experience and playing level showed as Liverpool saw off the rest of the game and qualified for the next round. But this game will be remembered for the support the young lads got in their first outing at Anfield.
After Klopp suggested that he would put out a similar line-up it was never going to be easy for the fans but Anfield was rocking as usual as Jurgen Klopp on the sideline celebrated the 3-0 victory, his biggest at Anfield with a smile.
Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart, Brannagan, Teixeira and Ojo all had a really good game and shown great promise but might have to wait a bit longer to get another outing. It will be a problem for Jurgen Klopp to provide enough game time for these youngsters who are now willingly playing the second fiddle.
However, Brad Smith seems to have had a real impact on the manager and is going to challenge Alberto Moreno in the left back spot for the club in the near future.
But none of the problems that saw Liverpool draw blanks against Manchester United are not solved and will have to be resolved before the Norwich City game this weekend.
Liverpool are drawn with West Ham United in the next round on the 30th of January at Anfield.