Minamino return gladdens Klopp

Sports | REUTERS 23 Sep 2021

Jurgen Klopp hailed Takumi Minamino's strength of character after the Japanese forward overcame his injury problems to score two goals in Liverpool's 3-0 win over Norwich in the English League Cup.

The 26-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Southampton before suffering a thigh injury earlier this month, marked his first appearance of the campaign with goals either side of a Divock Origi strike.

Klopp said it was unfortunate that Minamino was injured "in the wrong moment" but backed him to find his form.

"It's sometimes not so easy, but he's a top character," the Liverpool manager said. "That was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and will help us."

Klopp rang in the changes with nine players coming into the side, including teenagers Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley who made their senior debuts before fellow academy player Tyler Morton came on at half-time. The German manager was particularly impressed with the display of 16-year-old attacking midfielder Gordon.

Holders Manchester City joined Liverpool in the fourth round after Riyad Mahrez scored twice in a 6-1 home win over League One Wycombe Wanderers.

Brandon Hanlan gave Wycombe a shock lead in the 22nd minute but the hosts took a 3-1 lead by half-time with goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Mahrez and Phil Foden before running away with the game in the second half.

But with most top-flight teams making several changes from first-choice lineups, there were Premier League casualties with Everton and Watford knocked out by lower-tier opponents. Everton lost 8-7 on penalties at Queens Park Rangers after regulation time ended 2-2, while Watford were beaten 3-1 at home by second-tier Stoke.

Southampton and Leeds needed penalties to advance, while Brentford beat League Two bottom side Oldham 7-0 and Burnley won 4-1 over fourth-tier Rochdale.

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