Liverpool’s youngsters defied the odds to help push the Premier League leaders into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield on Tuesday.
Shaun Whalley thought he’d given the League One strugglers the lead with a header from close range, only for VAR to rule it out for offside. The winning goal came courtesy of a bizarre Ro-Shaun Williams own goal as the Reds booked their place in the final 16, where they’ll meet Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
When you consider the average age of this team, this was a pretty exceptional showing against a formidable League One outfit. They kept the ball on the deck, grew into the game and were able to keep possession better than anyone could’ve imagined. They were shown a great deal of respect on the ball from the visitors, which just showcases the impression they made in the initial tie.
There were definitely some issues with the decision making and at times they just couldn’t find any space in the final third. Once they were able to get a foothold in the game a few sloppy mistakes started to appear that could’ve easily cost them against a more high-profile team. From an aerial point of view, they should’ve utilised their taller options — especially on set pieces, which is an area they struggled from.
Manager rating out of 10
8 — In the absence of Jurgen Klopp, Neil Critchley stepped in to guide what was the equivalent of Liverpool’s under-23s. You could clearly see the connection between the boss and his players, as evidenced by the trust he showed in the starting XI. They didn’t go for broke and exert too much energy early on, and as such, they came across as a professional and composed side.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Caoimhin Kelleher, 7 — The 21-year-old controlled his box well enough and showed quick reaction times as and when he was called upon.
DF Neco Williams, 8 — While the erratic nature of his game may have led to a yellow card, Williams was actually one of Liverpool’s biggest attacking threats with his cross directly leading to the game’s lone goal.
DF Ki-Jana Hoever, 6 — A bit too relaxed at times with some of his wayward passes, causing the Reds problems. He was also beaten fairly easily for Shrewsbury’s disallowed goal.
DF Sepp van den Berg, 7 — While he was slow to the ball on occasion, the 18-year-old Dutchman put in an efficient-enough performance.
DF Adam Lewis, 7 — It was a nice showing for Lewis, who combined his tendency to get forward with a real composure when put under pressure.
MF Leighton Clarkson, 7 — The ambitious teenager showed no fear in drifting into Shrewsbury’s half and seemed to possess great vision when opportunities fell to him.
MF Pedro Chirivella, 8 — Announced himself in a big way with a professional performance that saw him track back regularly and bust a gut to try and win the ball.
MF Jake Cain, 6 — The odd moment of inspiration was hampered by his lack of strength on the ball in comparison to Shrewsbury’s midfield offering.
FW Harvey Elliott, 6 — One of the biggest names in this Liverpool XI went absent in the first half but burst into life with some strong runs down the wing in the second.
FW Liam Millar, 6 — It was a spirited display from Millar but he was lost among the Shrewsbury defenders and was often smothered.
FW Curtis Jones, 7 — The captain showed the confidence of a veteran with everything from defensive tackles to rabona crosses into the box.
DF Morgan Boyes, N/R — Did a good job of killing the clock in the final few minutes.
MF Elijah Dixon-Bonner, N/R — Was used to help the minutes tick by after replacing Elliott in injury time.
FW Joe Hardy, N/R — He looked active but wasn’t really given enough time to carve out any chances with the Reds trying to sit on their lead.