Liverpool defeated an inexperienced Aston Villa outfit 4-1 in the third round of the FA Cup at Villa Park.
Story of the game
Klopp’s men took the lead against the Villa youngsters inside five minutes thanks to a Sadio Mane header. The Senegalese forward was unmarked in the Villans box and rose highest to nod home the inch-perfect cross from Curtis Jones.
Having conceded so early on you would have expected the Premier League champions to ease to victory against such a young and inexperienced outfit but that was far from the case. If anything, it was the home side who looked the more assured for the remaining 40 minutes of the first period.
Villa’s composure despite going a goal down was rewarded four minutes from the break as the ex-Barcelona youngster Louie Barry latched onto a superb through ball from Callum Rowe and coolly finished past Caoimhin Kelleher to level proceedings.
On the hour mark the Reds regained the lead after Takumi Minamino played the ball to Gini Wijnaldum who all-but passed his effort into the back of the Villa net from the edge of the box.
Two minutes after the second, the Premier League champions added a third thanks to a looping Sadio Mane header. Bizarrely, before this evening, the ex-Southampton man had never scored a domestic cup goal for the Reds and now he heads back to Merseyside with two to his name.
Mohamed Salah got in on the act on the 70th minute mark as he swivelled inside the Villa box and dragged his effort into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 4-1.
Key takeaway from the match
Thiago oozes class
The Spanish midfielder came on at half time and it was his calmness in possession and eye for a pass that got the Reds back on path this evening.
Whether it be a 5-yard pass or a 30, the ex-Bayern man makes it look like the easiest task in the world and Jurgen Klopp will be needing his star midfielder to recreate his form this evening against Manchester United in the Reds’ next outing.
Man of the Match
Ákos Onódi (Aston Villa)
The Hungarian shot-stopper was the standout player in a Villa side who well and truly exceeded expectation. Having joined the club from Eto FC Gyor in 2018, tonight was his first team debut and the 6-foot 3-inch goalkeeper done his stock no harm against the Liverpool superstars.
He performed save after save in the first 45 to keep the scores level before his side bagged a shock equaliser. His best save of the evening came just before the break as denied Curtis Jones’s long range effort which looked destined for the top corner.
Despite the Reds' three second half goals, Onódi should go home with his head held high. His first half heroics prevented tonight's score from looking like one only seen inside a Rugby stadium!
What's next for Liverpool?
Klopp’s side host Manchester United in nine days’ time in a top-of-the-table clash at Anfield which could prove to be a gigantic game in deciding where the Premier League title goes in May.
The Reds have hit a bit of a purple patch of late but the visitors have excelled in the league, losing once in their last 11 PL games.