Sepp van den Berg arrives at Liverpool

It hadn’t really happened for Sepp van den Berg at Liverpool after what was a high-profile summer move.

The highly-rated young centre-back received a phone call from Bayern Munich while he was having a medical at Melwood and before tonight  had made three first-team appearances without really setting the world alight.

Against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night, however, it was a different story as he was allowed time on the ball and grew into the game winning several strong headers against a lively and experienced attack.

He was calm on the ball and a commanding presence in both boxes while becoming more and more vocal as the game wore on to lead his defence, stretching his arms and making sure everyone was in the right position in such a manner that even the imperious Virgil van Dijk would have been proud.

Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever celebrate the win over Shrewsbury

He was constantly in position to cleared any real danger as the likes of Shaun Whalley broke forward.

The young Dutchman made sure he was first to a number of threatening high balls, including one that was dangerously headed back across.

The centre-back was also the target man in the opposition box and aware of all the danger when the visitors came forward

The young Ki-Jana Hoever next to him was a strong and able partner and both coped with the Shrewsbury attack more competently than both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip managed in the first fixture.

They also had a different threat to deal with in Daniel Udoh after he replaced Callum Lang but Van den Berg continued to stay strong and keep the attackers at bay.

As Shrewsbury poured forward after Liverpool scored too, now armed with Jason Cummings who scored twice in the first match, the 18-year-old defender continued to dominate - winning just about every header and constantly intercepting the ball.

His performance was tantamount to making sure the Reds kept a clean sheet on Tuesday night and were able to take Jurgen Klopp further in this competition than he has ever been before with U23s boss Neil Critchley watching on at Anfield.

Jones knocking on the first-team door

Confident. Talented. Class. Strong. Tenacious. Clever.

Six words to describe Curtis Jones, but six words that still don’t even really do the young Liverpool star justice.

Without doubt the attacker is knocking on the first-team door and his performance against Shrewsbury Town proved that once again.

He was intelligent throughout the game, holding up the ball and winning his side free-kicks in dangerous opportunities on several occasions.

Curtis Jones crosses the ball
Curtis Jones crosses the ball

One of those came early in the first half the 19-year-old brought the ball down with a superb touch and flicked it with his left foot under pressure from Ro-Shaun Williams and looked to break before being hauled down by the defender.

Another occasion saw Jones outmuscle Aaron Pierre when challenging for a high ball. He whipped the resulting-free-kick around the wall after 26 minutes but straight at Max O’Leary to produce the game’s first shot on goal.

He then produced two sublime pieces of play.

Firstly, Jones collected a through ball from Jake Cain and flicked it through the legs of defender Ro-Shaun Williams only to get elbowed in the face and to have tissue stuck up his nose.

The Liverpool-born creator then fired over a rabona cross as Liverpool went on the attack after a lovely one-two with Harvey Elliott.

He bent one at goal just a couple of minutes into the second half after doing well in midfield to bring Liverpool away from danger, spray it wide to Elliot for the youngster to drive forward and lay it back to his captain to shoot.

And not only was it in attack that Jones lit up the game. He worked hard to get back and help out Adam Lewis at left-back and kept the ball really well in midfield to hold up play and get his side back on the front foot.

At 19 years and five days Jones also became the youngest captain in Liverpool’s history, eclipsing Alex Raisbeck’s record set in 1900, and when a player produces such a complete performance they no doubt deserve to wear the armband.

Elliott changes everything

Throughout the 90 minutes, Harvey Elliott’s terrific feet and skillful play left the Shrewsbury defence terrified.

And impressively, that was in total contrast to the first match at Montgomery Waters Meadow where the 16-year-old struggled to get into the game - though at Anfield on Tuesday you’d never have known it.

The young attacker linked the play really well with intricate passes and constantly threatened the visitors with direct, forward-thinking runs.

Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott celebrates
Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott celebrates

On several occasions he got away from Aaron Pierre and David Edwards when he was under real pressure and drove forward down the right before firing in teasing crosses.

He repeatedly played one-twos with Jones and showed for the ball to give Liverpool an option all over the field, while pressing from the front.

And just like Jones he dropped back to cover Neco Williams when the right-back flew forward.

But time after time it was at the head of the field where Elliott was the most lively, finding joy in flicking the ball over two defenders heads and exposing gaps with his pace and awareness to the game around him as Shrewsbury poured forward, first trying to score and then hoping to equalise.

Elliott also worked to get into so many good positions for his side and was so important to the balance of the team.

And who was it that was lurking a ready to pounce as Neco Williams hit a beautiful through ball over the top of the defence? Harvey Elliott. 

As the youngster looked to break onto the ball behind Ro-Shaun Williams the defender could only head the ball high and towards his own net, only for it to loop over O’leary and nestle in the goal which proved to be the difference.

Welcome Adam Lewis

This will be a night that Adam Lewis will never forget. Not only was the young right-back making his first-team debut, he was one of the standout performers on the night.

The 20-year-old was lively from the first whistle and looked bright as a constant outlet down the left, switching the play repeatedly and firing long balls up to Jones and Liam Millar.

His recovery pace was also excellent during the game and he got back to smother a Donald Love cross as the visitors looked to threaten in the first half while also catching up with Shaun Whalley to thwart another dangerous foray from the visitors.

Neil Critchley celebrates with Pedro Chirivella, right, and Adam Lewis after the win over Shrewsbury

He was also astute in knocking what was going on around him as he won Liverpool goal-kicks on several occasions when his side were under pressure and helped out across the defence when needed even coming to the opposite flank to stand firm.

The young defender was also the player who hit the big switch to Harvey Elliott before NEco Williams drove on in the first half for the Reds first big chance of the game.

Lewis was making his debut after Yasser Larouci was unable to play due to an injury he suffered in the Premier League International Cup last Wednesday.

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He was the player many expected to push on and establish himself as the back-up to Andy Robertson this season but he picked up an unfortunate knee ligament problem in September while competing for the club's under-23s against Arsenal, just days after making the bench in the Carabao Cup clash against MK Dons.

However, he has since returned and his performance tonight will go a long way to showing the Anfield hierarchy he is not far away.