Liverpool held 2-2 by Shrewsbury
The sight of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entering as substitutes late in the second half really summed up Liverpool’s desperation in their FA Cup match against supposed pushovers from the third tier yesterday.
Even the two superstar forwards couldn’t prevent the world, European, and likely English champions slumping to their most embarrassing result in years in a quaint market town near the Welsh border.
Liverpool squandered a two-goal lead and was held to a 2-2 draw by Shrewsbury in a riveting fourth-round match between clubs separated by 59 places in the English football pyramid.
By the end, you wouldn’t know which team led the English Premier League (EPL) by 16 points.
“The 2-2 is the least Shrewsbury deserved,” said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, who fielded a weakened starting line-up featuring fringe players and youngsters.
Klopp said his line-up for the replay will be even weaker, with the game at Anfield next month coming in the middle of the first so-called “winter break” in the history of English football. The first-team squad will be having that break, Klopp vowed, so he will be playing the kids.
The team will be managed by under-23 coach Neil Critchley, Klopp added.
If that was another blow to the integrity of the tournament, the pitch invasion that followed one of the greatest results in Shrewsbury’s 134-year history demonstrated that it still has that power to thrill.
It was an evening to remember, particularly for Jason Cummings, who scored a 65th-minute penalty to reduce Shrewsbury’s deficit and then turned Liverpool’s defence inside out before slotting home the equaliser in the 75th.
Liverpool went ahead through Curtis Jones, its 18-year-old matchwinner against Everton in the third round, in the 15th minute and looked comfortably through to the last 16 when former Manchester United defender Donald Love accidentally turned a cross into his own net for 2-0 a minute into the second half.
No team in the EPL has managed to score two goals in one game against Liverpool this season and the Reds could have conceded more, with Shrewsbury – which had won just one of their previous seven games in all competitions – having Liverpool rattled at times.
Back-up goalkeeper Adrian was arguably Liverpool’s best player, producing some great saves, especially from Shaun Whalley in the first half.
“It is a dream come true against the best team in the world,” Cummings said. “Going to Anfield is what it’s all about.”
Yesterday’s English FA Cup results
Man City 4-0 Fulham
Tranmere 0-6 Man Utd
Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool
Bournemouth v Arsenal 3 p.m.