Liverpool’s top three “like Jurassic Park birds of prey”, says Lijnders

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Thomas Tuchel was delighted with Saul Niguez’s overall performance as the Chelsea midfielder impressed in Tuesday’s EFL Cup encounter with Southampton.

Chelsea demanded a penalty shootout for the second round of the competition, as Reece James ‘cool kick eventually sealed the Blues’ progress to the bottom eight.

James’ penalty sealed a 4-3 shootout victory after Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone failed to convert their efforts after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

The five-time champions have now won all three of their matches against Southampton in the competition. The last such meeting was in 1997-98, with Chelsea winning the trophy that season.

Saul had only played once – against Malmö in the Champions League last week – since he faced Aston Villa in the previous round, but the loaned player from Atletico Madrid, who was pulled in mid -time in his only appearance in the Premier League, finished the full game. .

He almost opened the scoring with an excellent header after six minutes, forcing Fraser Forster to make a top-notch save.

After seeing another header saved just before the hour mark, Saul then made two successive attempts from the edge of the box, with a clean strike flashing right next to it before Forster again turned down the Spain international, plunging to his right to prevent a diving shot.

Saul finished on four efforts in total, with a joint record of three on target, and with his midfielder partner Mateo Kovacic, the 26-year-old made six tackles in the game’s lead, completing three, although ‘he conceded four. faults.

It was a performance that left Tuchel very impressed.

“[He had] a good game, a big step in the right direction for him, “Tuchel told reporters.

“I’m happy. We thought he might struggle with the intensity in the 70th minute, but he got better and better, had chances and shots.

“We thought we should keep him and give him the minutes. It was a good step for him.”

Tuchel explained that Chelsea’s options were limited after three players who could have started – Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen – were unable to train before the game.

“Azpi injured his shoulder, let’s see,” Tuchel said. “We hope he will be in good shape, he’s a badass. Maybe he will be in good shape on Saturday. [for the game against Newcastle United]. Ruben has pain in his hip, in his joint. Andreas has had his teeth operated on and should be able to train on Thursday. “

Chelsea made 23 shots in total, 14 of which were on target – Forster made 13 saves in total and were only beaten by the header from Kai Havertz. Southampton, who equalized by Che Adams, had plenty of chances, however, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making six saves.

“It was an intense football game, pleasant for the spectators to watch,” Tuchel added. “It was an open fight, an intense game. We had a good shootout, a lot of quality. I liked the energy today, it was a good game.”

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