Liverpool cruised past League One side Exeter City at St James Park with a 3-1 victory, marred only by conceding a late penalty and a collarbone injury to Raul Meireles that may see him out of the side for a few weeks.
The reds were taking part in the 2nd Round stage of the competition for the first time in 12 years, after the failure to qualify for European football. Clubs participating in European Football receive a bye to the 3rd Round.
However memories of last years dismal exit at home to Northampton were erased, as Kenny Dalglish selected a strong XI and bench – Luis Suarez involved in all three goals – grabbing the first for himself before assisting Rodriguez and Carroll for the others.
The reds made 8 changes from the weekends win over Arsenal, however 5 of those players were brought to Devon as substitutes.
Liverpool dominated the majority of the possession throughout the game, and it was a constant stream of threatening corners from Charlie Adam which caused most of the first half mayhem.
It was Suarez who got the reds off to a first half lead.
Jordan Henderson broke down the right wing before sending a cross in to the six yard box. The keeper could only got a faint touch on it and Luis Suarez was on hand to fire the low shot past the remaining Exeter defenders.
The reds lost Raul Meireles in the first half when he fell awkwardly on his shoulder avoiding a challenge. After the game Liverpool confirmed the player had suffered an injury to his collarbone.
Andy Carroll came on to replace him.
With the rain lashing down, both sides had some opportunities. Maxi Rodriguez should have doubled Liverpool’s lead but failed to stretch far enough to reach Suarez’ low cross across the face of goal. At the other end Pepe dealt easily with a free kick headed goal bound.
The reds started the second half in dominant fashion, and scored twice in a 5 minute spell to put the tie beyond Exeter.
Suarez down the right wing cut inside and shot goal bound. The shot was rebounded back to him, but he quickly controlled the ball and set up the waiting Rodriguez to fire in to the net.
Minutes later and Suarez was involved again, this time passing to his strike partner Andy Carroll who spun with ball and unleashed a powerful shot that pummelled the back of the net.
At 3-0 the reds withdrew Suarez from the action, bringing on Stewart Downing as his replacement.
Charlie Adam fired over, and Stewart Downing had two great chances to score his first goal for the reds, but it was Exeter who were to get the final goal of the game in the final ten minutes.
Skrtel got the faintest of touches to concede a penalty and Nardiello converted, even though Reina guessed the right way.
After the game Dalglish expressed his pleasure at the professional shown by the players.
The reds can now look forward to the draw for the next round and Saturday evenings clash against Bolton at Anfield.