Premier League • England

Minamino rifles Liverpool into FA Cup quarter finals after surviving late Norwich scare

Liverpool players Origi, Konate, Tsimikas, Jones and Milner celebrating with goalscorer Minamino

Takumi Minamino took his goals tally in the cups this season to six after his double put Liverpool into the FA Cup quarter finals at Norwich’s expense.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp made 10 changes for the visit of Norwich in the FA Cup with only captain Jordan Henderson keeping his place from Sunday’s Carabao Cup final win. Norwich made seven changes from Friday’s defeat to Southampton, with goalkeeper Tim Krul making his first start since mid-January.

Liverpool dominated the possession in the early going and came within a whisker of opening the scoring through Curtis Jones.

With a point to prove after being omitted from the League Cup final squad, Jones cut inside a Norwich defender before curling a superb effort onto the crossbar.

Norwich carried a threat of their own when in possession and could’ve taken the lead through Teemu Pukki. Following neat work from Milot Rashica in the build-up, Pukki was played through but pulled his shot wide of Alisson Becker’s far post.

There was always a sense of inevitability despite Liverpool’s weakened team, however, and the Reds took the lead in the 27th minute.

Takumi Minamino continues cup heroics

An overload down the left saw Kostas Tsimikas found in a yard of space. The Greek full-back found Divock Origi with his cross who controlled superbly before teeing up Takumi Minamino to rifle home at the far post.

The Japanese international has risen to the fore in cup competitions for Liverpool this season. Minamino bagged four goals in the League Cup during Liverpool’s march to Wembley and notched his second of the night against Norwich with a rasping drive soon after.

A corner found its way to Minamino beyond the back post who had strangely been offered the freedom of the penalty area. After taking a touch to settle himself, the lively forward drove a powerful strike in off the woodwork to make it 2-0.

Rashica had Alisson scrambling when firing narrowly wide prior to the break, but as half time came it was Liverpool with one foot in the quarter finals.

Both sides made an injury-enforced substitution to begin the second half. Harvey Elliott replaced Curtis Jones after the midfielder was seen clutching his thigh prior to the break.

For Norwich, Josh Sargent relieved Przemysław Płacheta who required treatment when tumbling over the advertising hoardings in the last act of the first half.

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Alex Oxlade Chamberlain struck the post with Liverpool’s first chance in the second half. It was the third time the woodwork had been rattled in 50 minutes with the chance owed in large part to a wonderful cross-field ball from Henderson.

Diogo Jota’s influence on proceedings was growing and the Portuguese was adamant his strike should’ve earned Liverpool a penalty.

The Portuguese curled an effort that looked destined to nestle inside the far post if not for cannonning off the arm of a Norwich defender. VAR checked, but saw no infringement.

Liverpool were cruising into the quarter finals before Lukas Rupp reduced the deficit to one. Joe Gomez defended passively to allow Rupp to charge towards the edge of the area before firing beyond the despairing dive of Alisson.

Teenage substitute Jonathan Rowe almost put his name in lights when forcing Alisson into a splendid save. That prompted Jurgen Klopp to introduce Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz with nerves becoming frayed.

The pair helped get Liverpool up the other end as the Reds held on to their 2-1 lead to keep their hopes of a historic quadruple alive.

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