Two-goal hero Daniel Sturridge had a Tuesday to remember as Liverpool booked their place in the quarter-finals of the 2016-17 EFL Cup for the third year in succession after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Anfield.
Vincent Janssen continued his run up front for Tottenham in place of the injured Harry Kane and scored from the spot with 15 minutes remaining, but it proved to be nothing more than a fourth-round consolation.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp rang the changes by fielding Marko Grujic, Divock Origi, Ovie Ejaria, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Lucas Leiva in his starting XI, with the latter alongside Ragnar Klavan at centre-back.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino also made alterations for the fixture and handed rare starts to the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks, Kevin Wimmer and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, whose slip led to the Liverpool opener.
Tottenham have now failed to win in their last four matches across all competitions, and Tuesday's result extended a poor run of form against the Merseysiders:
Spurs came into the tie having drawn their last three games and were in desperate need of a win, but their early hesitance suggested they might be left waiting for that drought to end.
The argument could be made that too many changes at once had an impact on the north Londoners and prevented the side from reaching their usual quality, but then their hosts were guilty of the same.
Nine minutes was all it took for the Reds to bring those doubts to the fore, and Sturridge had the predatory instinct to be in the right place at the right time after Grujic's shot was deflected into his path.
There were suspicions Nkoudou's slip close to his own goal had been caused by the opposition, but Sturridge hardly debated the decision as he showed the wit to slot past Spurs goalkeeper Michel Vorm from close range, via Sky Football:
The supporters at Anfield might have liked the tempo to remain that high for the entirety, but there was a considerable drop in goalmouth action for the remainder of the opening period.
Klopp went in at the interval the happier of the two managers, and right-back Alexander-Arnold was having a particularly impressive night in place of the benched Nathaniel Clyne.
Neither manager made any substitutions at the break, but Tom Collomosse of the London Evening Standard praised Pochettino for bringing Erik Lamela into the mix on the hour mark:
It would come to be an important change for the visitors, but Liverpool doubled their goal tally before the Argentinian could make a difference, adding their second just three minutes after his introduction.
Georginio Wijnaldum slipped Sturridge through on goal one-on-one with Vorm, and the England international sent his manager into ecstasy by nudging the ball into the middle of the net, via Bleacher Report UK:
Danny Ings and Clyne came on in place of Origi and Alexander-Arnold, respectively, but the senior pair couldn't keep the lead at two goals after Lucas was adjudged to have fouled Lamela in the area in the 76th minute.
Janssen stepped up to convert the penalty—his second in the League Cup—and though there were suggestions the Reds were hard done by, BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson felt referee Jonathan Moss made the right decision:
Ings looked like a positive addition for Liverpool and threatened to add a third goal for the Reds late on but was denied by Vorm. However, Spurs struggled to add to their shot tally.
Pochettino might look upon Tuesday's defeat as a valuable experience for those not accustomed to regular first-team football, but the sour patch lingers for a team who started the 2016-17 campaign so promisingly.
Liverpool return to Premier League action on Saturday and will be searching for their ninth win in 11 matches when they travel to Selhurst Park to face a struggling Crystal Palace side.
Things don't get much easier for Spurs, though, as they prepare to host Premier League champions Leicester City on the same day, looking for their first victory since defeating Manchester City 2-0 on October 2.
Sturridge enjoyed a superb outing under the Anfield floodlights on Tuesday, and his manager was the first to note his fine form in front of goal after bagging two against tough opposition.
The Englishman has struggled for consistency at times so far this season, but there was one part of the striker's game Klopp couldn't help but gush over, per the Liverpool Echo's Neil Jones:
Speaking to Sky Sports (h/t BBC Sport) after the win, the Reds manager also lauded the performances of youngsters such as Alexander-Arnold, who shone at right-back:
The youngsters were really good. All of them. Trent Alexander-Arnold made a wonderful start in the game. They can play better but with the pressure and new circumstances it was really good.
We had the bigger chances and we deserved to win. We created a wonderful atmosphere and nobody could leave early.
Unfortunately, Pochettino saw the defender's display in a different light and criticised the 18-year-old for a tackle on Spurs left-back Ben Davies—which earned the first yellow card of his senior career—per Liverpool writer Richard Buxton:
Klopp didn't restrict his praise to the starting XI and said Ings played "really well" after coming on for Origi, per Jones, while adding that Sturridge "could have had three or four" goals.
The German also made sure to mention the quality of the match itself and called the clash "exciting," a fixture no fan could leave before its end, per Anfield HQ.