By: Shane Brennan
Liverpool took on Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup 3rd round on Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool went into the game with a relatively strong side considering all of the Covid-19 problems The Reds have had to deal with over the last few weeks.
Liverpool started the game very confidently, passing the ball around briskly, dominating possession in the process. The first real chance of the game fell Liverpool’s way in the 13th minute, when the returning Andy Robertson played a nice ball into the box which in turn found Ibrahima Konate who diverted a header over the top of Marko Marosi’s crossbar.
In the 20th minute in what was a quiet enough start at Anfield, Fabinho played in Kaide Gordon, who got a snap shot away bringing a smart save from Marosi. In the 23 minute. Liverpool had another free kick opportunity, with Robertson once again whipping the ball into the Shrewsbury box with Virgil van Dijk leaping highest, but as with the previous chance, the ball sailed over the top of the crossbar.
The FA Cup was working its magic once again because in the 27th minute of the match, despite Liverpool having all of the play, Nathanael Ogbeta played a teasing ball into the box, the cross found Daniel Udoh, who gleefully smashed the ball passed Caoimhin Kelleher with Shrewsbury’s first shot on target, to send the traveling fans into delirium at Anfield.
In the 32 minute Curtis Jones went for an ambitious shot, which never found its way anywhere near the target as The Reds frustration began to show.
However some considerable nerves were eased in the 34th minute when youngsters Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Conor Bradley combined to find Kaide Gordon, who finished ever so cleverly into the back of the Shrewsbury net to put The Reds back on level terms.
Then straight from the kick off Shrewsbury went up the other end, and thought they were in front again when Luke Leahy found Ryan Bowman, but very fortunately from a Liverpool point of view, the linesman raised his flag for what was a marginal offside at best.
Just before the interval, Robertson crossed Liverpool’s third free kick of the day into the box, and it was to be third time lucky for The Reds as they won a penalty, thanks to a handball from Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Fabinho stepped up to place the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net, to give The Reds a slender advantage.
In added time of the first half, George Nurse launched a long throw into the Liverpool area, the ball bobbled around the box after Kelleher tried to clear the danger, but it fell to Josh Vela, who brought a decent save out of Kelleher to preserve Liverpool’s lead.
Liverpool started the second half really brightly as Tyler Morton picked out a sumptuous ball to Robertson who in turn laid the ball on a plate via a deflection for Dixon-Bonner, who somehow could not convert from close range as Marosi pulled off a unbelievable save to keep Shrewsbury alive and kicking in the tie.
In what was quite a quiet start to the second half, Morton let fly but the Shrewsbury defence were alert and Marosi did not have to worry despite the valiant effort. In the 72nd minute, Shrewsbury once again threatened, as Bowman combined with Udoh, who in turn picked out Vela at the edge of the area, but unfortunately for Shrewsbury, he could only smash his shot over the top of the crossbar.
In the 78th minute, Liverpool all but wrapped up the tie when Fabinho found Konate who scuffed his shot, luckily however, the ball found its way to substitute Roberto Firmino who backhealed it into the net to give The Reds a two goal cushion. In added time at the end of the game, substitute Kostas Tsimikas curled a free kick into the box which found Fabinho who smashed the ball into the roof of the Shrewsbury net for his second goal to make it 4-1,
That goal made the scoreline look convincing on paper, but in truth, it was a tad harsh on a Shrewsbury side who gave the tie everything they had.
In the end, it just wasn’t to be, as The Reds progressed through to the 4th round where they will Cardiff City at home.
Up next for Liverpool is the first leg of the League Cup quarter final against Arsenal at Anfield on Thursday evening.