Liverpool start Klopp’s farewell tour with thumping FA Cup win over Norwich

Quadruple quest still alive as victory at Anfield sets Liverpool up for fifth round tie with either Watford or Southampton

FA Cup: Liverpool 5 Norwich City 2

It could so easily have been a wake for the living. Instead, and much to Jürgen Klopp’s relief, along with his encouragement for what lies ahead, Liverpool commenced the long goodbye to their beloved manager with an emphatic 5-2 defeat of Norwich to preserve their hopes of giving him a quadruple for a leaving present.

Liverpool showed absolutely no signs of a loss of focus, motivation or appetite in their first outing since the shock news that Klopp’s reign will be over at the end of this season. The Premier League leaders and Carabao Cup finalists eased into the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will host Watford or Southampton, with a comfortable rout of the Championship visitors. Young talent was to the fore and the depth of Liverpool’s resources was underlined throughout a thoroughly professional job.

There was no emotional outpouring when Klopp emerged for the warm-up, where he caught up with best friend, the Norwich manager David Wagner, nor when he filed out behind the Liverpool team for kick-off. A wave to his wife in the crowd and a beat of the Liver bird on his chest, as usual, and then it was on with the game.

Klopp’s instruction that Liverpool absorb Friday’s bombshell and then move on with attempting to win four trophies in the final four months of his reign was always supremely optimistic, however, as the Kop quickly confirmed. “I’m so glad that Jürgen is a red,” bellowed out within seconds of kick-off. There was no reaction from the red in question. He had a cup tie to win.


Liverpool dominated from the off against a Championship team that took 14 minutes to construct a move in the opposition half. And that almost resulted in a Liverpool goal on the counterattack for Darwin Núñez.

The health of Liverpool, on and off the pitch, was a factor in Klopp’s decision to step down. It would have been even harder for the 56-year-old to walk away had Liverpool not been “back on the rails” and challenging Manchester City’s dominance once again. In that respect, Liverpool’s two first half goals will have brought him greater satisfaction than normal. Both were products of young talent honed in the club’s flourishing academy.

James McConnell was handed his first start central midfield and marked the occasion by creating the breakthrough for the homegrown Curtis Jones. The 19-year-old picked out his fellow midfielder with a beautifully weighted cross over a deep-lying Norwich defence. Jones, unmarked at the back post, steered a deft header beyond the goalkeeper George Long and Liverpool looked on course for a procession. One duly arrived, but only after an unexpected interruption from Norwich.

Wagner’s team briefly rewarded their impressive travelling support when equalising from a Gabriel Sara corner. Ben Gibson outmuscled Ryan Gravenberch at the near post to send a glancing header over Alisson. It was Norwich’s only attempt on the Liverpool goal in the first half and any thoughts of an upset were quickly and convincingly extinguished.

Klopp’s side regained the lead courtesy of fine work by Conor Bradley, who has impressed at right-back in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Northern Ireland international broke with pace down the right, breezed inside one Norwich defender and finished his run with the perfect pass to release Núñez inside the penalty area. The Liverpool centre-forward passed his finish inside Long’s bottom corner.

The positives on a testing day for Liverpool exceeded the scoreline. Andy Robertson was introduced in the 55th minute to a rousing reception after missing the past three months with a dislocated shoulder. The Scotland captain arrived as part of a triple substitution including Virgil van Dijk, who soon extended Liverpool’s advantage with a thumping header from Dominik Szoboszlai’s corner. The midfielder was back after a recent hamstring injury and later joined by Alexander-Arnold, himself recovered from a knee ligament problem.

Norwich substitute Borja Sainz had a moment to savour when collecting Jarell Quansah’s clearing header and running at a retreating Van Dijk before beating Alisson with an emphatic drive from 25 yards. But Gravenberch gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of proceedings in stoppage time when heading home from Bradley’s centre.

- Guardian

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