West Bromwich Albion caused an almighty cup upset on Saturday evening as they beat Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield.
The Baggies recovered from an early set-back with Roberto Firmino opening the scoring via a sumptuous lob with only six minutes on the clock before two quick-fire goals from Jay Rodriguez turned the tie on it’s head. VAR came to the fore again on three occasions. Craig Dawson looked to have scored the visitors’ third but it was ruled out. The hosts were awarded a penalty after another deliberation period but Firmino failed to get his second as he balsted his kick against the crossbar.
A Joël Matip own-goal stretched the advantage before Mohammed Salah fired in to drag the hosts back into the clash. They weren’t able to turn over the deficit however and Albion progressed to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.
Fiery FA Cup start at Anfield
A defensive mistake from Johnny Evans saw Mohammed Salah run through unchallenged in the opening stages. The Egyptian was thwarted thanks to a low save from Ben Foster however. The rebound fell to Firmino who delicately chipped the ball over the stopper and into the net.
It took barely a minute for Alan Pardew’s men to draw level. Straight from kick-off, Jay Rodriguez found space and jinked his way through the Reds’ defence. Creating room on the edge of the area, the former Southampton forward sent a powerful drive into the top corner of the Kop end net.
The 28-year old was at it again not long after. Grzegorz Krychowiak did well to play Kieran Gibbs through on the left side, who produced an excellent low cross. Rodriguez then ghosted in at the back post to finish low past Mignolet.
VAR confusion reigns supreme
It looked as though West Brom had stretched their eye-catching advantage as Craig Dawson nodded in Chris Brunt’s corner. Referee Craig Pawson referred to the video assistant referee and chalked off the strike with Gareth Barry straying into an offside position.
The referee again called for help from the VAR as Salah went over in the box after a challenge from Jake Livermore. Play was initially continued but after a brief period of deliberation, Pawson pointed at the spot. Firmino stepped up and hammered the ball against the crossbar to the relief of the Baggies.
Injury worries hamper West Brom
The Brazilian had another chance to equalise mid-way through the first-period but an excellent block from Evans halted his goal-bound shot.
Baggies boss Alan Pardew had two injury worries to contend with before half-time as Kieran Gibbs and Hal Robson-Kanu had to be replaced by Ahmed Hegazi and Matty Phillips. Salah raced through in the closing stages of the first-half but could only hit his low effort into the side-netting.
The Baggies eventually did get their third goal of the game and VAR yet again played a huge role. Dawson, who had previously struck but had his goal ruled out, found space and unleashed a low effort that looked to be trickling wide. Joël Matip attempted to clear but could only prod the ball into the back of his own net. The referee again referred to the VAR but the goal was awarded.
Klopp makes changes
It was turning into a frustrating evening for Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp elected to make all three of his changes mid-way through the second-half. Danny Ings, Jordan Henderson and James Milner were all introduced for the likes of Sadio Mané, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emre Can.
One of the changes nearly had an impact as Milner unleashed a fierce drive from just inside the area. Foster though palmed away. The goalkeeper then had to be alert to tip away Ings’ curling shot.
The Reds’ did eventually drag themselves back into the clash however. The ball fell to Salah in the box, and he swivelled to finish low into the far corner. Heading into the final stages, Klopp’s troops did create one last opportunity but van Dijk could only guide his header into the arms of Foster as the Baggies secured an historic victory at Anfield.
There are so many places to start with this one. It was an action-packed first period as all defensive discipline appeared to be thrown to the wind. The Baggies were in excellent form and reacted perfectly to their early set-back. Jay Rodriguez worked hard all evening and was more than good value for his two goals on the night.
West Brom, as a result, progress past a disappointing Liverpool side to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Liverpool: Mignolet (6); Moreno (6), van Dijk (7), Matip (5), Alexander-Arnold (6); Wijnaldum (6), Can (5) (Milner (6), 65′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5) (Ings (6), 65); Salah (7), Mané (6) (Henderson (6), 65′), Firmino (7).
West Bromwich Albion: Foster (6); Dawson (7), Evans (7), Gibbs (6) (Hegazi (6), 37′); Nyom (6), Livermore (7), Krychowiak (7), Barry (6) (Yacob (6), 70′), Brunt (6); Robson-Kanu (5) (Phillips (6), 39′), Rodriguez (8).
Goals: Firmino (6′), Rodriguez (7′, 11′), Matip OG (45+1′), Salah (78′)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Yellow Cards: Barry (26′), Can (61′), Hegazi (85′)
Red Cards: N/A
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