Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: Minamino's brace sinks the Canaries
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Takumi Minamino celebrates with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner of Liverpool after scoring their team's second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on March 02, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Takumi Minamino continued his impressive record in cup competitions as his first half brace helped Liverpool defeat Norwich at Anfield and advance into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2015.

The Reds seemed to be in cruise control for most of the second half, but that was until midfielder Lukas Rupp fired a late consolation goal for the away side to sprinkle a minuscule grain of doubt into the minds of the home supporters.

Jurgen Klopp's men dug deep to ride the result out and ensure they will be in the draw for the last eight on Thursday evening.

The Liverpool manager made ten changes to the side that overcame Chelsea in a dramatic penalty shootout on Sunday to win the Carabao Cup.

Jordan Henderson was the only member of the starting eleven who retained his place from the triumph. Klopp had already confirmed on Tuesday that Caoimhin Kelleher would sit out of this one after his heroics down in the capital just four days ago.

Dean Smith, meanwhile, opted for a fairly strong line-up for the Canaries, despite it being a potential distraction to their Premier League survival bid.

Billy Gilmour, Brandon Williams, Max Aarons and Grant Hanley weren’t involved. However, top goalscorer Teemu Pukki led the line alongside Millot Rashica - who scored at Anfield in the league meeting between the two sides last month.

The story of the match

After the elation of Sunday afternoon it was always going to be difficult for the Reds to fly out of the blocks and punish Norwich, who themselves, judging by their line-up, had aspirations of taking this year’s competition seriously.

Curtis Jones nearly got the hosts off to the dream start after just ten minutes, when he cut inside and nearly produced a carbon copy of his stunner against Everton two years ago.

On a big evening for the Toxteth-born midfielder, he displayed cute footwork to create the opening, before his attempt skimmed the top of the crossbar on its way into the Anfield Road stand.

After that early chance for the Reds, it didn’t take the Minamino long to pick up where he left off during Liverpool’s fourth-round tie against Cardiff City last month.

Kostas Tsimikas advanced down the left-hand side with 27 minutes gone to whip in a delightful cross that Norwich defended woefully.

The ball then found itself under the immaculate control of Divock Origi, who in his cool and composed manner, laid the ball off to Minamino at the back post.

The former Red Bull Salzburg man, who has shown shades of improvement since the turn of the year, took one touch to settle himself before rifling an effort into the top corner past the helpless Tim Krul.

It was the Japanese's ninth goal in all competitions this season. As he attempts to prove to his manager that he can be thrust into the action to help ease the burden on the likes of Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.

For Smith’s men, it was a goal that encapsulated their struggles at that end of the pitch as both Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann went to attack the same ball - leaving the Reds’ number 18 with the freedom of Anfield to pick his spot.

It was only 12 minutes later that he would edge closer to taking the match ball home as he again beat Krul from close range and a similar angle to his maiden strike of the night.

He was well-positioned to pounce on the scraps of Tsimikas’ half-cleared corner. Gibson’s clearance fell his way as he displayed a composed state of mind to steady himself and fire past the Norwich goalkeeper, thanks to a deflection off the inside of the post. 

That gave Klopp the cushion he would have craved after his side's gruelling 120-minute plus outing in the capital on Sunday night.

After the restart, there were chances for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diogo Jota and substitute Harvey Elliottbut they made their half-chances too easy for Krul in-between the goalposts. 

While for the Canaries, substitute Josh Sargent missed a golden chance to halve the deficit with half an hour left on the clock. He was picked out in the box, unmarked, but he couldn’t guide his header on target. 

Though, he did help Norwich get that elusive goal they chased all evening long as he teed up Lukas Rupp to make it a tense final 14 minutes at Anfield.

The Canaries’ number seven was well-placed in between the lines to receive a ball from Sargent and unleash a cannon past Alisson to give the travelling fans the faintest of hopes.

The Reds, however, managed to stand firm and book their place in the last eight of the competition for the first time in Klopp's tenure.

 

Starting XI's

Liverpool: Alisson, Milner, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas; Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones; Jota, Origi, Minamino

Norwich: Krul, Byram, Zimmermann, Gibson, Giannoulis; Rupp, Normann, Lees-Melou; Placheta, Rashica, Pukki.

 

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