Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Liverpool hit back to earn draw at lowly Exeter

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Exeter City's Lee Holmes (right) celebrates after scoring against Liverpool during the English FA Cup third round match at St James Park, Exeter, England yesterday. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.

EXETER, England (AP):

Brad Smith scored for Liverpool in the 73rd minute as the English Premier League side twice hit back to draw 2-2 with fourth-tier Exeter in the FA Cup yesterday.

Liverpool have never lost to fourth-tier opposition but were just 17 minutes away from making unwanted history.

Tom Nichols put Exeter ahead in the ninth minute and despite Jerome Sinclair's equaliser three minutes later, the hosts retook the lead on half-time through Lee Holmes. Smith then got the second equaliser for Juergen Klopp's side.

"It's obvious what we have to learn in the future," Klopp said to the BBC. "We have to be more robust. It was a difficult pitch. Exeter did really well. Maybe they know which part of the pitch you can play football. It was really difficult for us. On one-on-one situations they were more robust than our guys."

Klopp selected a squad that had 17 changes from the League Cup semi-final victory at Stoke on Tuesday against a side 76 places beneath them.

Exeter went ahead when Nichols stretched for a low pass across goal from Jamie Reid and poked the ball into the bottom corner.

Liverpool were level three minutes later when Exeter did not clear the ball and Sinclair steered it low past goalkeeper Robert Olejnik.

Christian Ribeiro headed wide when unmarked for Exeter who retook the lead on half-time when Holmes scored direct from a corner after Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan misjudged the flight of the ball.

Olejnik pushed a firm header from Christian Benteke over the bar and Liverpool equalised again when Smith hit a first-time shot into the net.