Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: Three things we learned
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Takumi Minamino of Liverpool applauds the supporters at full-time following the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on March 02, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Two excellent finishes from Takumi Minamino in the first half of Liverpool's FA Cup tie with Norwich was enough for the Reds to secure their place in the last eight of the competition for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.

The deadlock was broken after just 27 minutes when Divock Origi neatly controlled Kostas Tsimikas' cross before teeing up his strike partner, and the Japan international grabbed his second 12 minutes later with an emphatic finish from inside the box. 

Norwich pulled one back with around 15 minutes left on the clock at Anfield as Lukas Rupp struck a beauty to leave Alisson Becker helpless between the sticks.

Though, that wasn't enough to fuel a comeback and mount the pressure as the home side held on to book their name in Thursday night's quarter-final draw.

Here are Vavel's talking points from the game

Minamino's rebirth

The Japan international netted his ninth goal of the season in just his 22nd appearance, despite most of those outings coming from the substitute bench.

The goals continued Minamino's fantastic scoring record in the domestic cup competitions - where he has more than played his role for Klopp's side so far - as he netted goal number seven in either the FA or League Cup.

The forward has averaged a goal or an assist every  89 minutes for the Reds in all competitions this season in a bid to prove to his manager that he can be a trusted deputy on Merseyside. 

However, on Wednesday night it wasn't just his goals that stole the headlines, it was his strength and mobility around the pitch that could the eyes of spectators. 

It would appear that Minamino has been hitting the gym down at the AXA Training Centre while he bids to become more adaptable to the Premier League.

He also seemed to be playing in a deeper role, similar to the shadow-striker one he became acclimatised to during his time at Red Bull Salzburg.

If he can keep up his recent scoring exploits while Klopp continues to target domestic cup success, it could be a match made in heaven for the rest of the season.

Gomez sends Klopp a reminder

After being left out of the Liverpool squad for the League Cup final on Sunday afternoon against Chelsea and during other games in February - due to his manager boasting nearly a fully-fit squad - Wednesday evening was always going to be a huge night for Joe Gomez.

The England defender has endured a torrid season so far, starting just one Premier League game as he looks to make up for lost time following his long-term injury lay-off last season. 

Operating in the left centre-back position, the 24-year-old displayed his immense passing range throughout the night as the Reds granted Virgil van Dijk and his exquisite skill-set the night off. 

Gomez won two out of his three aerial duels, and boasted a 90% pass completion rate in addition to the three clearances he managed on the night.

Some critics felt he could have pressured Rupp sooner just before he unleashed a superb strike from range to set up a tense final 15 minutes at Anfield. 

But in the eyes of the defender, it will be viewed as another stride in the right direction as he bids to get back up to the levels he achieved in recent seasons. 

Curtis Jones halted again

It was another evening to forget for Curtis Jones as his momentum was once again halted through no fault of his own.

The midfielder made a bright start to the FA Cup fifth-round fixture as he nearly replicated his stunner against  Everton in January 2020, but he was to be denied by the faintest of touches from Tim Krul's crossbar. 

After a dynamic start to the tie, dropping deep to pick the ball up and drifting into the half-spaces, the 21-year-old was forced to be withdrawn by his manager at the interval after feeling pain in his thigh.

It adds to his troubles that date back to pre-season when he was sustained a knock against Osasuna in the final summer fixture, which subsequently ruled him out of the opening week of the Premier League season.

In November, manager Klopp revealed that Jones had been the subject of a rather peculiar eye injury was left him sidelined for nearly two months, as he made his comeback against Chelsea just two days into 2022. 

There is no doubting the midfielder and the abundance of talent he possesses, but after being made to sit out of the Reds' squad in recent weeks he will view last night as another setback in his quest to regain a regular first-team place. 

 

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