Curtis Jones’ double and strikes from Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah have eased Liverpool into a record 19th League Cup semi-final with a 5-1 win over West Ham United.
After Sunday’s disappointing goalless draw against Manchester United, the first time Juergen Klopp’s side had failed to win at home this season, ended a run of 34 successive matches with a goal the Hammers provided less stubborn resistance on Wednesday night (Thursday AEDT).
West Ham manager David Moyes departed after a 21st unsuccessful attempt to win at Anfield as his club’s woeful record at the ground extended to one win in the last 56.
Both teams made six changes from the weekend; Liverpool left Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench with Alisson Becker rested completely while the visitors changed three of Sunday’s back four.
Harvey Elliott had a couple of early attempts and with their pressing game back on point, with Gakpo preferred as the central forward and Darwin Nunez pushed out to the left, the hosts dominated.
None of Szoboszlai’s previous three goals were straightforward – two from distance and one a neat control and whip over the goalkeeper – but his 28th-minute 25-yard strike was the purest of the lot.
After a month of indifferent performances, the Hungary captain looked to be rediscovering the form which lit up the early weeks of his Reds career, although West Ham’s passivity made life a lot easier for him and the rest of his teammates.
Gakpo planted a header wide and Nunez forced a good save from Alphonse Areola either side of halftime before Jones latched onto a give-and-go with the Uruguay international and, with no other option, threaded the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs from the narrowest of angles for Liverpool’s 500th goal in all iterations of the competition.
Any doubt over the result was extinguished by Gakpo after he fired low inside Areola’s right-hand post from the edge of the area following substitute Ibrahima Konate’s charge forward and Jarrod Bowen’s curling effort around Caoimhin Kelleher was merely a consolation on his 27th birthday.
Salah netted a breakaway goal from Alexander-Arnold’s pass and Jones capped a fine night with his second after dancing through the defence.