Shrewsbury Town momentarily stunned their esteemed opponents, but Liverpool eventually took control of the contest to seal a convincing win.
Hot-shot Dan Udoh gave the large contingent of travelling Town fans a moment to savour. The Nigerian put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute and Steve Cotterill’s side were allowed to dream of a momentous victory.
But Liverpool took just seven minutes to restore parity through youngster Kaide Gordon. Brazilian international Fabinho notched before the break, whilst he also converted a penalty in stoppage time prior to his compatriot Robert Firmino making it 3-1.
Steve Cotterill named the same eleven that defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 last time out. Tom Bloxham returned to the bench following the completion of this three-match ban, whilst Bristol City loanee Saikou Janneh was also included for the first time.
Unsurprisingly, it was the six-time European Champions that were quickest out of the traps. The Reds dominated possession, but their only real sight of goal was when Kaide Gordon called Marko Marosi into action.
At the other end, Irish goalkeeper Kelleher needed to be alert as Dan Udoh raced to try and latch onto Elliott Bennett’s defence splitting pass. Then, Virgil Van Dijk, the world’s most expensive defender, nodded over from Andy Robertson’s corner.
Yet despite a promising Liverpool start, it was the away end packed behind the goal that were sent into raptures. Nathanael Ogbeta left Conor Bradley trailing in his wake prior to drilling a dangerous cross into the box. Dan Udoh nipped ahead of his marker to fire the ball beyond the goalkeeper and give Town a shock lead.
The decibels in the away end were off the charts as Liverpool attempted to respond. Curtis Jones struck well over, but Jurgen Klopp’s side did not have to wait long to register the equaliser. Kaide Gordon swivelled and placed his effort past Marko Marosi to level the scores.
However, Town refused to allow the equaliser to stop their momentum and thought they had nudged themselves ahead once more. Luke Leahy’s pinpoint delivery was attacked by Ryan Bowman and whilst Kelleher managed to get a touch, he couldn’t keep the header out. The visiting fans were back in delirium, but the linesman’s flag spoiled the party.
Liverpool went into the break with the lead. Ethan Ebanks-Landell was adjudged to have handled Andy Robertson’s cross, and the Premier League side were awarded a penalty. Fabinho kept his composure to rifle the spot-kick into the bottom left corner.
The hosts continued to dominate possession well into the second period. Marko Marosi had to be on his guard to keep out a strong shot from Dixon-Bonner. Then, Curtis Jones tried his luck from outside the area, but his strike was well-blocked.
The clash quietened down somewhat, and Town were restricted to half chances. Dan Udoh turned possession over to Josh Vela, but the midfielder’s shot was wayward. Liverpool effectively wrapped up the contest with 12 minutes remaining. Tyler Morton’s delivery bounced around the penalty area until Roberto Firmino seized control. The former Hoffenheim forward produced a clever back-heel which Marko Marosi had no chance of keeping out.
Liverpool still had time to register a fourth goal. Fabinho engineered some room on the edge of the area and fired a shot beyond Marko Marosi.
Despite the eventual score line, Town boss Steve Cotterill will be pleased with his side’s endeavours. Shrewsbury return to the bread and butter of League One when they visit Crewe on Saturday, whilst Liverpool who will face Cardiff in the 4th round, prepare for a League Cup tie against Arsenal on Thursday.
Team Line Ups
62. Kelleher, 84. Bradley, 5. Konate, 4. Van Dijk, 26. Robertson, 45. Dixon-Bonner, 3. Fabinho, 80. Morton, 49. Gordon, 82. Woltman, 17. Jones
Subs: 9. Firmino (64), 13. Adrian, 18. Minamino (45), 21. Tsimikas (92), 32. Matip, 52. Mabaya, 77. Norris (92), 85. Balagizi, 94. Frauendorf (81)
Subs Not Used: 13. Adrian, 32. Matip, 52. Mabaya, 85. Balagizi
1. Marosi, 5. Pennington, 4. Ebanks-Landell, 23. Nurse, 17. Bennett, 10. Vela, 16. Davis, 3. Leahy, 14. Ogbeta, 12. Bowman, 11. Udoh
Subs: 6. Pierre (83), 9. Cosgrove, 13. Burgoyne, 15. Pyke, 18. Bloxham (83), 19. Caton (92), 22. Daniels (88), 27. Craig, 28. Janneh (83)
Subs Not Used: 9. Cosgrove, 13. Burgoyne, 15. Pyke, 27. Craig