Liverpool’s much-changed side let slip of a two-goal lead away at League One side Shrewsbury Town to draw 2-2 at the New Meadow, meaning an undesired FA Cup replay will be added to the Reds’ busy schedule.
Jürgen Klopp made four changes from the side that started in the third round of the FA Cup against Everton. The Reds were boosted by the return of trio, Joël Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho, who all started their first game since recovering from injury.
It didn’t take long though for Liverpool to establish a grip on the game, with the away side taking the lead in the 15th minute. Shrewsbury were given a warning when Neco Williams almost laid on a fine ball for January signing Takumi Minamino to notch his first goal for the club.
Just a minute later Curtis Jones was able to notch his second goal in as many games in the competition. The 18-year-old latched on to a fine through ball from Pedro Chirivella, finding the net with ease.
Having been in sparkling form as the Reds secured passage through to the fourth round, Adrián proved himself once again. The Spaniard was called into action midway through the first half when a smart pass between Williams and Matip allowed Town’s number seven Shaun Whalley a run on goal. Instinctive keeping denied the hosts an unlikely equaliser.
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A positive spell for the hosts continued to spell danger for Liverpool, Whalley again found himself in behind the defence, baring down on goal from the left-hand side, only to put his effort wide of the target.
Despite controlling much of the first half, it was an opening period that showed clear signs of rustiness within the ranks. Fabinho in particular portraying a player lacking match fitness.
Liverpool were handed a dream start to the second half. Just 28 seconds after the restart, under little pressure full-back Donald Love guided a Williams cross into his own net. A gift to say the least.
The League One side could have pulled one back when Callum Lang pulled clear just before the hour mark. The forward on loan from Wigan capitalised on Lovren’s attempt to step up, but yet again Adrián showed his class and tipped his effort past the post.
Following an honourable response, having inadvertently found themselves two goals down, Sam Ricketts’ side were rewarded for the efforts in the 65th minute. The hosts were granted a controversial penalty when Larouci fouled the impressive Josh Laurent, bursting through. There were no questions about the foul. However, it appeared to be outside the box. Regardless, Jason Cummings step up to breed live back into the home support.
With twenty minutes remaining in the game, Klopp added some much needed first team quality to the game. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced youngster Harvey Elliott.
The Reds looked to have settled the game. Origi forced a stunning save, only for the home fans to be sent into meltdown moments later. Slack defending saw Cummings get a run on Matip and the Town substitute punished the European champions.
Having surrendered a two-goal lead, Klopp was forced into another substitution. This time Mohamed Salah was called into action in place of Matip, with Fabinho dropping into center back. A disgruntled Liverpool, certainly on edge and the introduction of Roberto Firmino for Minamino proved it.
Salah very nearly made sure of a narrow win in stoppage time, but he could only guide Firmino’s ball wide of the post. Late pressure was to no avail and the two sides will meet again at Anfield during the winter break.