|Raheem was the star last night...|
A mixed side from Brendan saw plenty of youth given the chance with the likes of Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson and starlet Raheem Sterling all starting. Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger added some experience in the back four though as they lined up against a strong Hearts.
Andy Carroll travelled with the squad but was unable to feature due to a knock previously mentioned by Rodgers, Fabio Borini instead played up front.
Hearts had a very good first half and forced Pepe Reina into a couple of saves. Players like Templeton were oozing with confidence and causing Liverpool plenty of problems. Liverpool on the other hand were sort of tootling along, nothing special and a few sloppy passes but it was a weakened side.
One person that did stand out though for Liverpool was Raheem Sterling. Reds fans had been excited to see him start for days and after last nights performance I think there are suddenly several neutrals hoping their club takes the midfielder on loan. He's skillful, pacey and doesn't seem phased by anything, whilst some 17 year olds would allow their adrenaline to create silly decisions, Raheem seems very controlled, he knows where to play his pass and where to be and can only go from strength to strength. A real talent.
Hearts were struggling to deal with the youngster who cut inside several times and got a shot on, the only thing missing for Raheem last night was that elusive goal but his time will come.
No changes for the second half but Liverpool began to look a bit more comfortable now. Hearts had come out all guns blazing but that kind of stamina was never going to last, despite this they still had a fair few chances to raise Liverpool's eyebrows.
Just after the hour mark Liverpool were forced into a substitution after Jack Robinson picked up an injury, he was replaced by Stewart Downing who ended up in an unfamiliar position. Shortly following this sub, Jay Spearing left the field and Joe Allen entered play.
It was immediately recognisable soon after Allen came on that more balls were coming out of midfield and the passing was a lot calmer. Allen has a very specific job and sometimes it will go unnoticed, like last night, he came on, did his job and his side scored whilst he was in the team, not a coincidence in my opinion.
Liverpool got their lucky goal just before 80 minutes but in fairness it was the pressure we created that forced the Hearts player into a mistake. An own goal was scored by Andy Webster after Martin Kelly's superb cross just went past an encroaching Fabio Borini.
Hearts played well enough to earn themselves a draw but sometimes that little bit of luck falls out of your favour and as mentioned before, Liverpool's experience seemed to carry them through as the Hearts boys tired.
Coming back to Anfield with a 1-0 lead and with the ability to field a stronger team is a real positive for Liverpool. Hearts aren't out of this tie by any means but it would be a tough ask now.
Next up for Liverpool are current champions - Manchester City, you will find a match preview for this game on the blog on Saturday afternoon.