MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 0 Liverpool 5

Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley
Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp thought Fleetwood were a band before kick-off and they definitely were outperformed at their own arena by the German’s five-star side.

It was a strong Liverpool side with new boy Marko Grujic pulling the strings in attack as the Premier League side quickly asserted their dominance against a Town side that touched every blade of grass, sweated buckets and worked their socks off in the dimming Fylde coast sunlight.

But the gulf between the two divisions was clear and for most of the game it was one-way traffic with Liverpool just lacking the cutting edge in the first half.

That edge was quickly sharpened at half-time as they added four more goals to Grujic’s 18th minute opener.

Sadio Mane and Alberto Moreno had a whale of a time on the left wing as they terrorised Town’s young right back Akil Wright.

The development squad prospect - who has not yet played in League One, never mind faced some of the best players in Europe - chopped down the sparkling Grujic as he attempted one of many probing runs at the Town back line in the 12th minute.

Referee Kevin Friend - who’s decisions at times infuriated Town boss Pressley to the point that Klopp offered the Scot his spectacles - immediately pointed to the spot but fortunately for Town the normally clinical Danny Ings forgot to lace up his shooting boots as he tamely fired the spot-kick straight at Neal’s torso and a black shirt failed to gobble up the rebound.

Liverpool deservedly took the lead in the six minutes later as Moreno whipped the ball into the mix and into the path of the unmarked Grujic on the right of the box who marked his first appearance for the Reds with a debut goal as his deflected effort just squeezed over Neal.

Livewire Grujic smashed the ball into the right post, Neal pulled off a fine save to stop Dejan Lovren nodding in another probing Moreno cross as the half drew to a close and the poor Ings ended his night by smashing the ball straight at a Town defender.

Town’s young development squad winger Keano Deacon shone and the rest of the team finally shook off their attacking shackles and rose from Liverpool’s iron grip in the dying embers of the half.

Pressley had opted for a 4-4-2 formation with David Ball up top with Devante Cole and Ball found an extra gear as the 45th minute approached.

Ball’s neat feet teed up Ryan to curl the ball way wide of the right stick and he left Liverpool’s defence for dead after some slick play by Bell on the left but unfortunately nobody was on hand to tap home his tantalising cut back that skidded dangerously across the six-yard box.

Fleetwood and Liverpool changed their full staring XI’s at half-time but in a dull second 45 Liverpool proved their Premier League pedigree as they carved open Town like a hot knife through butter four times to seal a 5-0 win.

Lucas Leiva and Ryan Kent linked-up on the right wing, drew keeper Alex Cairns towards them and Kent slid the ball back to 16-year-old Ben Woodburn on the left who smashed the ball into the empty net just seven minutes into the second half.

And as the sun started to set on Highbury so too did Fleetwood’s hopes of a comeback as Liverpool struck twice in two minutes.

Leiva slotted the ball home and just a minute later Liverpool found the net again as the lively Woodburn sprinted into the box, drew Cairns out and although the keeper and Town’s recovering defence nearly managed to smoother the ball it fell sweetly for Firmino who simply lifted the ball into the net.

And it was Firmino who has the final say as he tapped home Woodburn’s left wing cross in added time.