Liverpool’s kids took center stage again in Cup action, and this time they came through. Jurgen Klopp rotated his squad for the Merseyside derby against Everton in FA Cup play, and while Carlo Ancelotti selected a strong Toffees lineup, it was a day for the youngsters.
Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino were all rested alongside fellow regulars Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson, Andrew Robertson, and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Instead, the Liverpool lineup was dotted with youth players who stepped up to the challenge. While Liverpool dominated in possession throughout the match, they found the attacking third a stumbling block until young Curtis Jones changed that with one spectacular 71st minute moment, leading the Reds to a 1-0 victory over Everton.
Liverpool suffered an early blow as James Milner, one of the few veteran players in the squad, was forced off just eight minutes into the match after pulling up behind the play. He was replaced by 19-year-old Yasser Larouci
Everton, having made just two changes from its last Premier League match, had a big chance on 12 minutes as Adrian kept out Mason Holgate‘s free header, a fabulous opportunity that was disappointingly directed straight at the Liverpool goalkeeper. The Toffees were quite good in the attacking third throughout the first half, forcing Adrian into a few more big saves. Yerry Mina flashed a header wide on 37 minutes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin also just barely dragged one shy of the post.
Liverpool’s young squad still had its moments through the first 45 minutes, including one where Divock Origi searched for the far post, only kept out by Jordan Pickford‘s acrobatic diving save. The second half was even more cagey than the first, and while Liverpool’s kids dominated in possession, Everton was wasteful with its chances. Theo Walcott delivered an absolutely abysmal ball for a streaking Moise Kean with 25 minutes to go.
As the Reds gained in confidence, they eventually went in front as 18-year-old midfielder Jones rescued the match. The Liverpool youth product cropped up with an absolute stunner, rifling a long-range shot into the top-right corner.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 5, 2020
The goal was good enough to send Liverpool through to the fourth round, dumping Everton out of the competition. It’s not the first winning moment for Jones with the senior squad, as he was also on hand to deliver the decisive penalty in the EFL Cup penalty shootout against Arsenal which Liverpool won 6-5.
The win somewhat avenged Liverpool’s 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in which the youngsters took the field with the senior squad in Qatar for the Club World Cup. The young team deployed that afternoon played well, with the scoreline somewhat harsh on the side. This time around with senior team support sprinkled throughout, the kids produced a display worthy of a landmark rivalry win.