Young Liverpool Dump Everton Out of FA Cup
Liverpool advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup at the expense of their neighbours Everton with a 1-0 Merseyside Derby win at Anfield.
A superb goal from Curtis Jones gave the much changed Reds the victory over their fully loaded local rivals, condemning recently hired manager Carlo Ancelotti to his first defeat in charge.
Coming in the midst of a busy run of fixtures, manager Jurgen Klopp elected to make a raft of personnel changes, with only James Milner, Joe Gomez and Divock Origi regular or semi regular starters and a debut being handed to new signing, Japanese international Takumi Minamino. Despite the mismatched selection and relative youth of the team, the European Champions deservedly advanced with a mature performance belying their years.
Despite all the changes from the hosts, there was the normal derby day intensity and Everton showed their attacking teeth from the offset.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s ball found Theo Walcott and his cross — after a deflection — found Dominic Calvert Lewin whose shot, from just inside the box, was saved by the feet of Adrian. Liverpool escaped unscathed on the scoreboard, but paid a price when Milner was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury in the process of defending the move. Replacing the experienced Englishman at left back was Algerian youth, Yasser Larouci.
With Pedro Chirivella and Adam Lallana offering themselves willingly for possession in midfield, the Reds knitted together some attacking thrusts but the final ball was lacking.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues were a constant threat on the break, with Larouci targeted on the right hand side and the inexperienced Nat Phillips susceptible to poor positioning in the heart of defence.
Further saves from Adrian were required from a Mason Holgate header from a free kick and from another Walcott cross from the right, this time with Richarlison shooting straight at the Spaniards feet.
The hosts manufactured some good opportunities near the cusp of half time, with Minamino failing to make headed contact with an Origi cross. The Belgian himself then forced Jordan Pickford into his first save after Harvey Elliott accurately found him in the box and his low drive was redirected behind for one of Liverpool’s six first half corners.
0-0, given the Adrian saves, was a half time score that slightly flattered the Reds, but there were ample positives to take from the performance of a side with so many changes.
The second half was a tighter affair than the first and it took the introduction of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, replacing debutant Minamino, midway through the spark proceedings in life.
Moments after the midfielder coming on, Jones wrote himself into Merseyside Derby folklore with a stunning opening goal.
Receiving the ball from Origi just outside the box, the young Scouser curled a dipping effort off the underside of the bar and over Pickford to send Anfield into raptures.
After an industrious beginning, Jones had floated out of the game but he reintroduced himself with aplomb with a derby goal that will live long in the memory.
Showing admirable levels of control, Liverpool — with the midfield trio of Lallana, Chirivella and Oxlade Chamberlain — held onto the ball and for a memorable victory and extend Everton’s wait for an Anfield win to at least 21 years.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Williams, Phillips, Gomez, Milner; Chirivella, Lallana, Jones; Elliott, Origi, Minamino.
Substitutions: Oxlade Chamberlain for Minamino, Elliott for Brewster, Larouci for Milner.
Subs not used: Mane, Henderson, Kelleher, Hoever.