Liverpool beat Norwich 5-2 at Anfield to reach FA Cup fifth round

Match reportLiverpool beat Norwich 5-2 at Anfield to reach FA Cup fifth round

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By Sam Williams at Anfield

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Liverpool advanced to round five of the Emirates FA Cup by beating Norwich City 5-2 at Anfield.

Curtis Jones, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Gravenberch were the Reds’ goalscorers in Sunday’s fourth-round tie at Anfield, with Ben Gibson and Borja Sainz replying for the visitors.

Strikes from Jones and Nunez sandwiched Gibson’s equaliser to see the hosts take a 2-1 lead into half-time, and Jota and Van Dijk had further increased the advantage by the midway point of the second period.

Sainz then pulled one back for Norwich but Jürgen Klopp’s team – who welcomed Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai back as second-half substitutes – scored again deep into stoppage time through Gravenberch.

Liverpool now face a home fifth-round tie with Southampton or Watford, who will replay their round-four match after drawing 1-1 on Sunday.

Team news

James McConnell made his full senior debut as one of five changes to the Reds’ starting XI from the midweek game at Fulham.

Jones, Jota, Alisson Becker, who captained the side, and Ibrahima Konate were the other players to come in.

Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez (Robertson, 55), Konate (Van Dijk, 55), Nunez (Alexander-Arnold, 66), Jones (Szoboszlai, 55), Gakpo, Jota, Gravenberch, McConnell (Diaz, 79), Quansah, Bradley.

Unused substitutes: Kelleher, Elliott, Clark, Beck.

First half

A charged Anfield atmosphere was a given following the news of Klopp’s impending departure and Liverpool duly established an early tone of superiority.

A low Joe Gomez drive was deflected wide and Cody Gakpo skewed an attempt over the crossbar before Nunez went so close to opening the scoring 10 minutes in, the forward curling onto the foot of the post from just outside the area.

A sweeping move from back to front ended with Jota’s enticing cross narrowly evading the sliding Nunez, but it was only a matter of time before Norwich’s strained backline was breached.

Indeed, the moment arrived just after the quarter-hour mark when McConnell drifted a precise cross to the back post, where Jones had positioned himself to nod home.

However, the visitors hauled themselves back on terms midway through the half when, with their first effort on goal, Gibson met a corner at the near post with a glancing header.

But their parity lasted only six minutes as Nunez struck.

Conor Bradley was the creator, the right-back regaining possession with an excellent tackle and surging forward, playing a neat one-two with Jota and finally feeding Nunez. The No.9 did the rest by steadying himself and dispatching a calm finish into the far bottom corner.

Liverpool threatened to pull away before half-time, with Gakpo missing a clear-cut chance after Nunez had found Bradley with a defence-splitting pass and Gravenberch being denied by a goalline clearance.

Gakpo then scuffed a shot wide, meaning Norwich made it to the break without sustaining any further damage to the scoreline.

Second half

After Norwich’s Gabriel Sara and Liverpool’s Jones had traded hits from distance that each went close, Jota provided the Reds with breathing space.

Jota’s presence caused Grant Hanley to miscue his header from Jones’ searching pass and in typical fashion, the Portugal forward produced an unerring finish to find the bottom corner.

Van Dijk, along with the returning Robertson and Szoboszlai, was then introduced from the bench and the captain wasted little time in getting in on the goalscoring act.

An outswinging corner by Szoboszlai was met with a powerful Van Dijk header from the penalty spot and the Reds were in cruise control.

Alexander-Arnold was next to make his comeback from injury as a substitute, but the next telling contribution to an entertaining tie was that of a Norwich replacement, as Sainz drilled in a superb long-range strike that even drew a ripple of appreciative applause from the Kop.

In response, the Reds moved up through the gears again.

Gravenberch then added a stoppage-time flourish by converting Bradley’s cross and Liverpool can now look forward to another Anfield tie against Championship opposition in the week commencing February 26.

Attendance: 57,334

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