London: Liverpool let a 2-0 lead slip as League One Shrewsbury earned a FA Cup fourth round replay at Anfield thanks to a 2-2 draw, whilst Manchester United and Manchester City cruised into the fifth round.
Jurgen Klopp showed his focus is very much on a first Premier League title for 30 years as he made 11 changes to the side that won at Wolves Thursday.
And Klopp confirmed he will name an even younger side for the replay as it falls days into Liverpool’s two-week winter break from Premier League action.
“I have said to the boys already, two weeks ago, that we will have a winter break, so it means we will not be there,” said Klopp, who plans to let under-23s coach Neil Critchley take charge of the game.
“It will be the kids who play that game.” Despite a calm finish from 18-year-old Curtis Jones to open the scoring on 15 minutes, Liverpool never settled as Shrewsbury missed a host of chances to level before the break.
A freak own goal from Donald Love on Sunday then doubled the visitors’ lead a minute into the second half, but the Shrews did not give up on their shot at shocking the European champions and were given a lifeline when substitute Jason Cummings converted a penalty.
Cummings then sent New Meadow into raptures by slotting low under Adrian 15 minutes from time.
“It was a dream come true against the best team in the world. Going to Anfield is what it’s all about,” said Cummings.
Relief for Solskjaer
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was badly in need of a convincing performance after 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Burnley over the past seven days and got a response with a 6-0 thrashing of third-tier Tranmere.
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.
“This game was one where everyone apart from Man United fans wanted us to lose,” said Solskjaer.
“It’s been a bit of pressure on them but they’ve enjoyed it.
“It was a difficult pitch but we went about it the right way; just worked hard, played simple but effective and played the right way.”
Captain Harry Maguire led by example by striding forward to smash home his first goal for the club before Diogo Dalot also grabbed his first United goal and Jesse Lingard curled home to make it three goals in a six-minute spell.
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 midweek derby after questioning why there were 15,000 empty seats for his side’s 4-0 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.”