Liverpool youngsters beat Shrewsbury to reach FA Cup fifth round
LONDON: Liverpool’s youngest ever team proved coach Jurgen Klopp was right to rest his stars as they reached the FA Cup fifth round with a 1-0 win against third-tier Shrewsbury on Tuesday.
Klopp and his entire first team were all absent for the fourth round replay at Anfield as part of the club’s winter break.
The Liverpool manager was criticised for disrespecting the FA Cup, but his youngsters proved up to the task and their mature display was rewarded when Ro-Shaun Williams headed the decisive own goal in the closing stages.
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the last 16 at Stamford Bridge in March as they remain on course for a potential treble of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
Klopp had turned over the responsibility of leading Liverpool to the club’s under-23 coach Neil Critchley, who also took charge when the Reds played an under-strength side for their League Cup quarter-final defeat at Aston Villa earlier this season.
On that occasion, Klopp had a better excuse for his absence as Liverpool were in Qatar on course to win the Club World Cup.
This time, it was purely his decision to ignore the FA Cup, but resting Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and company at least gave fans a glimpse of the next generation.
With an average age of 19 years and 102 days, it was Liverpool’s youngest ever starting line-up in all competitions.
There were seven teenagers, including 16-year-old Harvey Elliott, while Pedro Chirivella was the oldest player in the team at 22. – AFP