Dons' Carabao Cup run ends with defeat to Liverpool
A spirited MK Dons side bowed out of the Carabao Cup to European champions Liverpool on Wednesday night, doing down 2-0 at Stadium MK.
Despite the gulf in divisions, the home side went toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp's side in the first half, but a mistake from keeper Stuart Moore allowed James Milner to open the scoring four minutes before the break. Ki-Jana Hoever's header on 69 minutes put the game to bed for the visitors, though they hit the woodwork three times.
Dons though weren't without chances of their own as Conor McGrandles, Alex Gilbey, Jordan Bowery and George Williams all came close to getting a goal which would have delighted the record home attendance of 28,521.
Dons made four changes to the side which started against Southend at the weekend, and they were notable changes too. Lee Nicholls, Dean Lewington, Russell Martin and Jordan Houghton were all replaced by Stuart Moore, George Williams, Alex Gilbey and Jordan Bowery.
The home side weren't expected to create many chances against a second-string but still impressive Liverpool side, and should have taken the lead on 12 minutes when Sam Nombe out-muscled Dejan Lovren to break through on goal. But pulling it back to Conor McGrandles, the Scot blasted the ball over the bar, with keeper Caoimhin Kelleher out of position.
Barely a minute later though, it was Liverpool who should have opened the scoring when James Milner twisted past Callum Brittain and teed up Harvey Elliott, but the youngster's shot thumped the bar from 10 yards out.
As expected, the home side played much of the opening half out of possession as James Milner and Naby Keita were allowed to run the show for Liverpool, penning Dons into their own third. They weren't out of it by any stretch of the imagination though, and were given another great opportunity again through Nombe's perseverance on the right, this time finding Gilbey in the centre to fire over.
Once again though, Liverpool broke up the left and Milner picked out Rhian Brewster in the centre, only for the striker to poke wide of Moore's goal.
Dons looked as though they were absorbing everything Liverpool had in the opening half, but three minutes from the break, the visitors were gifted the lead courtesy of a Stuart Moore howler. Milner's shot from the corner of the area looked pretty routine for the keeper to gather but somehow, Moore managed to spill the effort and into his own net.
Bringing on Russell Martin at the interval at the expense of Dickenson, Dons began to provide something of a threat in the second period, and were the width of the post away from going level when Jordan Bowery got a toe on the end of Martin's header, but saw it bounce off the upright.
Despite Dons looking much improved in the second period, Liverpool would double their lead when Ki-Jana Hoever met Milner's cross to power his header past Moore with 21 minutes to go.
And they should have put it to bed six minutes later but Oxlade-Chamberlain's effort thumped the base of the post.
Dons though continued to push forward and but for some last-ditch defending, could have had one back through Bowery, who saw his header somehow saved by Kelleher, or Williams, whose effort was cleared off the line by Lovren.
At the other end, Harvey Elliott continued to torment Dons, and was unlucky not to make it 3-0 when he cut inside Regan Poole to clip the bar for a second time of the night as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 28,521 (6,692)
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Poole, Walsh, Dickenson (Martin 46), Brittain, Kasumu (Houghton 61), McGrandles, Gilbey (Boateng 71), Bowery, Nombe
Subs not used: Nicholls, Lewington, Agard, Harley
Liverpool: Kelleher, Lovren, Milner, Keita (Chirivella 63), Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Kane 82), Lallana, Brewster, Jones, Hoever (Van Den Berg 90), Elliott
Subs not used: Longergan, Lewis, Kane, Longstaff, Clarkson