Liverpool embarrassed by FA Cup minnow
The sight of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entering as substitutes late in the second half summed up Liverpool's desperation in its FA Cup match against third-tier opposition.
Even the two superstar forwards couldn't prevent the world, European and likely English champions slumping to their most embarrassing result in years in a quaint market town near the Welsh border.
Liverpool squandered a two-goal lead and was held to a 2-2 draw by Shrewsbury in a riveting fourth-round match between clubs separated by 59 places in the English soccer pyramid.
By the end, you wouldn't know which team was the Premier League leader by 16 points.
"The 2-2 is the least Shrewsbury deserved," said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who fielded a much-weakened starting lineup featuring fringe players and youngsters.
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Klopp said his lineup for the replay will be even weaker, with the game at Anfield next month coming in the middle of the first so-called "winter break" in the history of English soccer. The first-team squad will be having that break, Klopp vowed, so he'll be playing the kids.
It was an evening to remember for Jason Cummings, who scored a 65th-minute penalty to reduce Shrewsbury's deficit and then turned Liverpool's defense inside out before slotting home the equalizer in the 75th.
Liverpool went ahead through Curtis Jones, its 18-year-old matchwinner against Everton in the third round, in the 15th minute and looked comfortably through to the last 16 when former Manchester United defender Donald Love accidentally turned a cross into his own net for 2-0 a minute into the second half. No team in the Premier League has managed to score two goals in one game against Liverpool this season and the Reds could have conceded more, with Shrewsbury - which had won just one of its previous seven games in all competitions - having Liverpool rattled at times.
Earlier, Manchester United turned a potentially awkward away match on a poor playing surface into an English FA Cup cruise by thrashing third-tier Tranmere 6-0 in the fourth round to ease some pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester City also piled on the goals against lower-league opposition early on Sunday, sweeping to a 4-0 win over 10-man Fulham to take their defence of the famous old trophy into the last 16.
United chose an ideal time to record the biggest victory in its 13 months under Solskjaer, who has been under massive scrutiny this week after chastening, back- to-back losses in the Premier League to Liverpool then Burnley.
Beating a team in the relegation zone in League One has hardly resolved United's issues but the manner of the win - United was 5-0 ahead at halftime on the back of some unforgiving finishes - will give Solskjaer and fans some source of encouragement.
United centre back Harry Maguire set the tone for the game by carrying the ball upfield, cutting inside and smashing a fierce shot - albeit one that was slightly deflected - high into the net from outside the area in the 10th minute. It was Maguire's first goal for United since his move from Leicester in the off-season.
Well-taken strikes by Diego Dalot and attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard, with his first goal in any competition in 366 days, made it 3-0 after only 16 minutes, with Phil Jones and Anthony Martial adding further goals before halftime.
Teenage striker Mason Greenwood converted a penalty in the 56th for the sixth goal and Solskjaer took the opportunity to give some of his key players a rest, with Martial, Nemanja Matic and Maguire coming off early to save their legs ahead of the second leg of an English League Cup quarterfinal against City on Wednesday.
City leads that 3-1 from the first leg at Old Trafford and warmed up with what proved to be a non-contest against Fulham after US defender Tim Ream was shown a straight red card in the sixth minute for bringing down Gabriel Jesus in the penalty area.
City scored from the resulting spot kick, through Ilkay Gundogan, and a largely second-string team went on to dominate the game at Etihad Stadium. However, despite monopolising possession and creating chance after chance, the defending champions only added one goal - in the 19th minute through Bernardo Silva - before a late headed double from Jesus.
Silva's strike from outside the area took City to 100 goals in all competitions this season - the first team in Europe's top five leagues to get to that milestone.
Later on Sunday, Liverpool plays away to third-tier Shrewsbury in the fourth round, with Jurgen Klopp fielding a much-weakened team for the match.