Liverpool eased to a comfortable 2-1 win over Dean Smith’s Norwich at Anfield last night. A brace by Taki Minamino saw the Reds qualify for the last eight of the FA Cup. Rupp’s strike late on only served as consolation. Here’s a review of the match.

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° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp made ten changes to the side that took on Chelsea in the League Cup final on Sunday. Jordan Henderson was the only player to retain his place, with Alisson returning in goal, Milner and Tsimikas lining up at full back, and Konaté partnering Gomez at centre back.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones joined the skipper in the engine room whilst there were starts for Origi and Minamino alongside Jota in attack. Diogo made his first start since sustaining an ankle injury at the San Siro last month.

° Norwich press. The visitors pressed high up the pitch to try and disrupt Liverpool’s buildup play from the back. The two centre halves were closed down quickly as the Canaries started strong. It made for a frantic half with both teams not allowing either to settle on the ball.

° Early exchanges. Liverpool went close first, with Curtis Jones cutting in from the left and clipping the top of the crossbar with a beautifully curled shot. Norwich responded, with Pukki pulling a good chance wide of Alisson’s goal.

° Minamino makes the difference. There wasn’t an abundance of clear cut chances, but the two that fell Taki’s way were finished off with aplomb. The first was a tidy finish at the back post after an unselfish Origi layoff.

The second was a thing of beauty, as Taki picked up a loose clearance again at the back post and unleashed an explosive finish past Tim Krul. Two chances, two goals. How’s that for clinical finishing? He’s made himself the club’s Cup specialist.

Since joining the club, Takumi Minamino has scored 9 goals in domestic Cup competitions, more than twice as many as any other Liverpool player in that period.

° Norwich don’t roll over. Being 2-0 down at halftime, you’d have thought Norwich would capitulate and end up on the wrong side of a hiding. Instead, they came out flying again after the break. Sargent went close to pulling one back just a minute after the restart.

Liverpool responded with Oxlade-Chamberlain hitting the post with a shot after cutting in from the left wing. Jota and Henderson also saw goal bound efforts blocked. It was then Rashica’s turn to go close, as he sent his header from a good position wide.

° Norwich halve the deficit. It was a cheap goal to give away from Liverpool”s perspective. Elliott gave away possession and then Rashica got past Konaté too easily. He laid it off for Rupp whose strike from distance beat Alisson to give Norwich hope in the last 15 minutes.

° Deadly double sub . After 84 minutes, Jürgen Klopp sought to make sure of the win by turning to his bench again. The sight of Diaz and Mané coming on for Jota and Origi was a show of strength. The tiring Norwich defence must have wanted the game to end right there and then.

° Alisson to the rescue. The Brazilian shot stopper had endured a quiet night with Norwich not threatening his goal much. That was until the 85th minute when Jonathan Rowe skinned Milner and rifled a shot towards the top corner. Alisson reacted brilliantly to turn it behind.

That encapsulated what he’s all about. He bails his side out with world class saves and makes it all look so easy. As such, his saves don’t get spoken about much. He doesn’t make a fuss of it like some other keepers do, but make no mistake, he’s the very best in the world.

° Dangerous Diaz. Luis was on the pitch for about ten minutes and still managed to get two shots off (only Jota and Minamino managed more all game). He almost scored a peach of a goal too, with his curled effort whistling past the top corner. He’s dangerously direct and has given the side a huge boost since joining.

° Gomez impresses. It’s been a tough season for the 24 year old with minutes hard to come by. He’s never moaned though, and has kept his head down and worked his way through the adversity. He showed his class last night with an impressive performance as the left sided centre back.

There’s been talk of interest from Villa, with some suggesting he should be moved on. That will be a mistake as Joe has all the traits Klopp wants in a centre back. He’s very quick, he’s front footed and he’s comfortable in possession. At just 24, we could see him and Konaté (22) build a successful long term partnership.

Joe Gomez vs Norwich:

• 117 touches (2nd)
• 110 passes attempted (2nd)
• 100 passes completed (1st)
• 91% pass accuracy (2nd)
• 19 long balls attempted (1st)
• 13 long balls completed (1st)
• 13 ball recoveries (1st)
• 3 clearances (1st)
• 3 interceptions (=1st)
• 2 aeriel duels won (=1st)
• 2 duels won

° Through to the quarters. The victory sees the Reds through to the quarter finals for the very first time under Jürgen Klopp. Brendan Rodgers was the last man to lead Liverpool to the quarters, with Villa ending the club’s run in the semi final back in 2014/15.

The aim will be to go one step further this time around. Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Everton/Boreham Wood and Nottingham Forest/Huddersfield are the remaining teams in the competition. The draw will be held tonight.

° What next? It’s back to Premier League action for the boys as West Ham visit Anfield for Saturday’s late kickoff. The Hammers won the reverse game 3-2 and will pose a threat, but Anfield will be in full voice and the Reds have a score to settle.

Victory will see the gap to City cut back down to three points, with pressure heaped on Guardiola’s side as they host neighbours United in the Manchester derby on Sunday. We could see big changes in the title picture this weekend. For that to happen though, David Moyes’ impressive West Ham outfit must be overcome.


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