17-year-old Kaide Gordon pushed his case for a greater first-team role after his classy goal helped Liverpool ease past Shrewsbury Town despite an early scare in the FA Cup.
Liverpool named five youth team players in their side to face Shrewsbury at home after a Covid-affected build-up this week. Conor Bradley, Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon, Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Max Woltman were chosen from the off.
Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip, having recovered from Covid this week, were on the bench alongside another four academy players. Manager Jurgen Klopp was also back in the dugout after completing his self-isolation.
Liverpool dominated the possession stakes in the early stages with Shrewsbury content to sit deep and soak up pressure. The Reds’ inexperienced forward line probed, but found clear sights of goal in critically short supply.
Kaide Gordon shines brightest
A rare moment of action came in the 16th minute when winger Kaide Gordon took a tumble in the area. Despite the youngster’s vociferous appeals, neither the referee nor VAR saw any wrongdoing.
Gordon looked lively and produced the first save of the contest from Marko Marosi soon after. After being fed by Fabinho, Gordon arrowed a left-footed strike towards the near-post before Marosi tipped round the post at the cost of a corner.
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The hosts looked a threat from set pieces with Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk both winning headers. Neither could find the target, however, and Liverpool would soon be punished.
Nathanael Ogbeta found a yard of space against Conor Bradley down the left before whipping an inch-perfect cross towards the near-post. Daniel Udoh capitalised on Konate indecision, prodding home from close range to put Shrewsbury one up.
Konate having a wonderful time simply watching that finish and randomly jumping on the spot, there.
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) January 9, 2022
The lead was short-lived when the impressive Gordon quickly levelled the scores. The 17-year-old showed great composure when turning on the ball inside the area before slotting beyond the goalkeeper with a cool finish.
Liverpool quickly pressed home their advantage when taking the lead through Fabinho from the spot. A free-kick into the box was inexplicably handled by a Shrewsbury player, allowing the Brazilian to ease the nerves when sending Marosi the wrong way from 12 yards.
Prior to the break there was just enough time for Josh Vela to come within a whisker of restoring parity. A long throw caused havoc in the Reds’ area, but Caoimhín Kelleher recovered quickly to snatch Vela’s goal-bound header on the line.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner thought he’d notched his first senior goal in a Liverpool shirt straight after the break. The teenager latched on to Andy Robertson’s cut-back inside the six-yard box but saw his effort superbly saved by Marosi.
Klopp turned to Roberto Firmino from the bench to put the game beyond all doubt. The Brazilian did as he was commanded in the 78th minute with a cheeky backheel finish from close range that nutmegged a defender.
That prompted Klopp to substitute goalscorer Gordon who received a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd to go along with a hearty hug from his manager.
Andy Robertson gave Reds fans a late scare when appearing to injure his right ankle in the final minutes. Nonetheless, it was Liverpool’s day when Fabinho rubberstamped their victory with an injury time goal to round out a 4-1 victory.