Liverpool 4 Shrewsbury 1: Young Reds survive scare to edge into FA Cup fourth round as Gordon, Fabinho & Firmino score

Liverpool 4 Shrewsbury 1: Young Reds survive scare to edge into FA Cup fourth round as Gordon, Fabinho & Firmino score

MAYBE IT was Fabinho who settled things down when things were getting a tad edgy.

One of the much older heads of Jurgen Klopp’s enforced mix of experience and youthful exuberance made no mistake from the spot a minute from half-time.

And another of them in substitute Roberto Firmino killed the tie with an outrageous backheel to dazzle us with those bright white gnashers of his.

Yet here was a portrait of the future at Anfield. And that future looks very bright. For the kids of the Kop are, indeed, alright.

Let’s take Kaide Gordon, just 17 and with one first team game to his name, having played in September’s 5-0 Carabao Cup win at Norwich.

His equaliser seven minutes after Daniel Odoh had sent 6,000 visiting Shrewsbury fans wild was true class.

The youngster dragged the ball back ten yards out before flashing his shot beyond Marco Marosi.

Earlier in the clash that became another of the weekend’s clashes that revitalised the romance of world’s oldest knockout competition he had forced the goalkeeper into a desperate low parry.

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Gordon accepted his scoring opportunity from Conor Bradley, who also proved himself a class act before a ball was kicked.

The day before the 18 year old sponsored his home town team Dergview in an Irish Cup clash with Glentoran.

The team from Castlederg in Northern Ireland lost their own giant-killing bid 3-2 but the youngster is the pride of the place.

The right back had already been capped four times this season before taking over from Tent Alexander-Arnold, one of the latest of Klopp’s first team squad to be hit by Covid.

And his 202 minutes in a green shirt this season doubled the time he had played in the rd of the club he joined as an 11 year old.

But like Gordon he showed why Klopp would have faith in him, delivering the perfect low ball from which Gordon then produced his first senior goal for Liverpool.

Midfielder Tyler Morton (19) and making his eight appearance of the season plus debutant midfielder Elijah Dixon-Moore (21) and striker Max Woltman (18) made up the academy side of the line-up.

Naturally Steve Cotterill’s side fancied it given how Klopp had to select a team of the ages within Anfield.

And while they had only 12 per cent of possession in the first third of the game they were as strong a side as their manager could pick.

They arrived on the back of three League One wins and a draw in their last four games.

Having refused to get carried away with the occasion they took their first real chance brilliantly and Udoh’s opener was stunning.

Nathaniel Ogbeta made the most of Bradley’s inexperience to get wide and behind him to fire over a cross.

Shrews' ten-goal top scorer Udoh powered between centre backs Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate to side-foot a volley past Caoimhin Kelleher – deputising again for another Covid victim in Alisson.

But Gordon is very much on of the Kop’s kids for fame and his equaliser came at exactly the right time.

Fabinho was then gifted his penalty strike thanks to the madness of Ethan Ebanks-Landell yet it was the curling quality of Bradley’s cross that panicked him.

Klopp replaced Dixon-Bonner after 64 minutes with Firmino while Wirral-born Woltman, who models himself on the Brazilian, got a half-time hook.

The German was intent on making sure the pesky visitors would leave disappointed and Fabinho made sure of that.

Yet there was till the final nine minutes for another budding star with Ethiopian-born German national Melkaum Freuendrof replacing Gordon.

In the dying seconds Fabinho claimed a second but plenty of his far younger team mates very much made their claim for fame.

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