- Klopp fields young Reds’ side
- Exeter sit 16th in League Two
- Second leg to be played at Anfield
Fourth-tier Exeter City twice held a lead over Liverpool, but the League Two side had to settle for a 2-2 draw in their third round FA Cup matchup against the Premier League giants.
A second leg will now be held at Anfield to determine which side advances to the next round of the tournament.
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Despite being hit with an injury crisis, Jurgen Klopp still decided to field an extremely weak and inexperienced side. Christian Benteke was the only first-team regular in the starting XI, with three players making their Liverpool debuts.
The home-side jumped out to an early lead, as Tom Nichols put Exeter ahead within the opening ten minutes. Jamie Reid played in a cross from the right wing, as a sliding Nichols was able to direct his shot into the bottom corner past Adam Bogdan in goal.
However, Exeter’s lead was short-lived, as Jerome Sinclair drew Liverpool level just three minutes later. Christian Benteke was tripped up in the box and the ball popped loose to Sinclair, who finished neatly for the first goal of his Liverpool career.
Despite the quick equalizer, Exeter regained their composure and continued to keep the play even throughout the first half. Then, at the brink of halftime, a howler from Adam Bogdan allowed the League Two side to retake the lead. Lee Holmes scored directly off a corner kick, as Bogdan misjudged the bending cross as it sailed into the top corner.
Exeter pressed on for a third goal after the break, with Tom Nichols continuing to cause trouble for the makeshift Liverpool defense. However, the score stayed at 2-1 and it looked like the League Two minnows could find a stunning result.
But Liverpool would find the all-important tying goal in the 73rd minute, as a failed clearance fell right to Brad Smith, who fired home to knot the score at two.
The result forces a second leg to be played at Anfield, where Jurgen Klopp will be hoping his regulars are back fit and able to feature in what will be a must-win for Liverpool.