SHREWSBURY: Premier League leaders Liverpool were given a huge scare by third-tier Shrewsbury Town as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 away in a pulsating FA Cup fourth round tie yesterday. A much-changed Liverpool appeared to be cruising into the fifth round for the first time since Juergen Klopp took over in 2015, but Shrewsbury substitute Jason Cummins had the compact New Meadow stadium rocking with a memorable brace.
First he coolly tucked away a 65th-minute penalty and then he outpaced Liverpool’s nervy back four to beat Adrian with a cool right-foot finish from the edge of the area. Liverpool, who have been untouchable in the Premier League this season making a first title for 30 years almost inevitable, took the lead through teenager Curtis Jones after 15 minutes.
The seven-time Cup winners doubled their lead 28 seconds after halftime when Shrewsbury’s Donald Love scored an own goal.
But European and world club champion Liverpool lost concentration and were punished as Shrewsbury roared back to set up a thrilling climax and earn a replay at Anfield.
Earlier, Manchester United put a torrid week behind them by thrashing third-tier Tranmere 6-0 as holders Manchester City also cruised into the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 win over Fulham yesterday. United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was badly in need of a convincing performance after 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Burnley in the Premier League over the past seven days.
Many tipped the Red Devils to get bogged down on a sandy surface at Prenton Park, but a flying start thanks to a host of unlikely goalscorers ensured there was no chance of an upset.
Captain Harry Maguire led by example by striding forward to smash home his first goal for the club since an £80 million ($105 million) move from Leicester.
Diogo Dalot then also grabbed his first United goal before Jesse Lingard curled home for just a second time in a year for club and country inside 16 minutes. Phil Jones then nodded home his first United effort since 2014 and Anthony Martial’s deflected strike made it five before the break. Solskjaer could then afford the luxury of resting Martial, Maguire and Nemanja Matic for most of the second half ahead of Wednesday’s attempt to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against City in the League Cup semi-finals.
Tahith Chong was one of those introduced and he was brought down by Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies, allowing Mason Greenwood to score United’s sixth from the penalty spot.
Empty stands annoy Guardiola
City manager Pep Guardiola hopes more fans show up at the Etihad Stadium for the derby in midweek after questioning why there were 15,000 empty seats for his side’s stroll past Fulham.
Nearly 40,000 were in attendance to see Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card give the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.
Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.
The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.
“Hopefully more people can come than today, hopefully (they) can support us more,” said Guardiola.
“I don’t know the reason why, but it was not full.”
Guardiola’s men have now won 17 domestic cup ties in a row.
The Catalan is relying on more cup success for silverware this season after conceding the Premier League title is beyond his side with Liverpool 16 points clear at the top of the table.
“Liverpool are just fantastic, phenomenal, overwhelming. So we have to accept it and learn from that,” Guardiola said on the eve of the game.
Jurgen Klopp showed Liverpool’s focus is very much on the title as he made 11 changes to the side that won at Wolves on Thursday for the trip to League One Shrewsbury Town later. – Agencies