Liverpool Transfer Room author, Stephen Killen, delivers the match report and his verdict of the Third Round trip to Villa Park.
Sadio Mané’s brace plus goals from Mohammed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum helped Liverpool into the fourth round of the FA Cup against a depleted Aston Villa side.
Louie Barry netted on the stroke of half-time to add some cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp’s side going in to the second half.
But, a flurry of goals on the hour mark secured a place in the next round for the Reds and into the hat for Monday’s draw.
The main talking point prior to kick-off was the news of the Coronavirus outbreak at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground which saw their whole first team forced to miss tonight’s game, as a result the youngsters were called upon.
Sadio Mané nodded the Reds in front after just four minutes as he converted from Curtis Jones’ in-swinging delivery from the right.
One of the stand-out performers for the Villains was Akos Onodi. The 19-year-old shot-stopper made a number of great saves to deny the Reds doubling their lead in the first half.
Five minutes before the break, an incisive pass from Callum Rowe, saw Louie Barry latch on to the pass as he maneuvered his way onto the wrong side of Rhys Williams and place his effort past the on-rushing Caoimhín Kelleher.
The hour-mark saw a fluster of Liverpool goals as Takumi Minamino and Georginio Wijnaldum combined to begin the assault, the Dutchman stroked his effort into the bottom corner.
Minutes later, Mané doubled his tally for the night and the FA Cup with a looping header, adding a two-goal cushion from Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross.
The Swiss International turned provider once more when he found Salah. The Egyptian held off the defender and made no mistake in drilling his effort into the bottom right corner.
Onodi had no chance in the Reds’ three unanswered goals. The Hungarian was a trialist at the Merseyside academy earlier in his career. Tonight, he proved his goalkeeping capabilities with some tremendous saves on the night.
Following the game, we asked Liverpool Transfer Room Writers; Richie and Priyasha for their match reaction.
Ritchie Slack (@Slack_9): “I think that the less said about the first half the better. It seemed Liverpool just wanted to score goals and thought they could score at will, but Villa defended well and caught them on the break.
The second half was much more measured with Thiago and Shaqiri standout performers and much calmer on the ball than those they replaced,Richie Slack (@Slack_9)
Richie added: “We had more than 12 shots on targets so should be more but the important thing is no injuries in the last fifteen minutes. Not the best game, but a win, on to the next one.”
Priyasha (@LFCPriya11): “With the entire Aston Villa senior team out, I expected this match to be a walk in the park for Liverpool, who I thought would be fielding a rotated squad as well.”
Half-time substitutions changed the game. The introduction of Xherdan Shaqiri transformed the game even more so, getting two assists in 10 minutes. Thiago too, was all over the pitch, very sharp and aware.Priyasha (@LFCPriya11)
“The young Villa side had an admirable drive and showed heart. The first half was, frankly, embarrassing for the defending champions, with the lacking creativity being more than evident,” She added.
“Apart from these two, a special mention goes to Neco Williams who had a class game.”
Stephen’s Verdict (@SteKillenBL): Liverpool’s second-half performance papered over the cracks of a poor, by their typically high standards, first half. It was an amalgamation of disappointing and lacklustre performances, which saw the Reds take home just one point from a possible nine with former Barcelona trainee, Louie Barry, dealing a hammer blow five minutes before the break with his well-taken strike.
Mané spearheaded the attack and the half-time introduction of Thiago Alcantara turned the tie against the very in-experienced Villa on its head.Stephen Killen
Make no mistake, despite the comfortable scoreline, the resolute and compact defending of the youthful opponents made for an interesting spectacle, one that Jurgen Klopp’s men emerge from with just a few mere cuts and bruises.
A win is a win, the game drew positives as we saw Salah, Mane and Wijnaldum on the scoresheet. As well as, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago and Divock Origi getting valuable minutes under their belts.
Onto the next round for the Red men.
Written by Stephen Killen (@SteKillenBL)