Liverpool overpower Norwich to make FA Cup last 16

 
Darwin Nunez of Liverpool scores his side's second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on January 28, 2024 in Liverpool, England. 


Liverpool reached the FA Cup fifth round with an entertaining victory over Norwich in their first game since manager Jurgen Klopp announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Klopp, who revealed his impending departure on Friday, was given a rousing reception by the home supporters before kick-off, and his team wasted little time in moving through the gears against the Championship play-off hopefuls.

Darwin Nunez had already struck the post with a magnificent curling drive by the time Curtis Jones nodded the hosts in front from full debutant James McConnell's cross.

The Canaries equalised against the run of play when Ben Gibson steered in Gabriel Sara's corner, but Nunez restored Liverpool's lead with a calm finish after fine work from full-back Conor Bradley.

And it was 3-1 early in the second half when Diogo Jota latched on to a wayward header from Gibson before thumping a low shot past goalkeeper George Long.

Second-half substitute Virgil van Dijk, left completely unmarked from a Dominik Szoboszlai corner, headed home Liverpool's fourth before a superb Borja Sainz strike gave Norwich hope - moments after Christian Fassnacht's finish was disallowed for offside.

The only other sour note for the home side was a late injury for teenager McConnell, who had to be replaced by Luis Diaz with 12 minutes remaining - but there was still time for Ryan Gravenberch to complete the scoring with a close-range header.

The Reds will host Watford or Southampton in the fifth round after the Championship clubs played out a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road earlier on Sunday.

Business as usual for dominant Reds
Klopp stunned the football world by announcing he will call time on his nine-year Liverpool tenure at the end of the season, citing dwindling energy levels as the reason for his exit.

However, there was no lack of energy from his side on an afternoon of heightened emotions at Anfield.

Klopp's opposite number and close friend David Wagner had jokingly asked the Liverpool boss for "massive rotation" before the game, but the hosts had little trouble overpowering their opponents despite leaving Van Dijk, Szoboszlai and Diaz out of the starting line-up.

Twenty-year-old Bradley was a persistent threat down the right-hand side and was heavily involved in Liverpool's second goal, winning the ball back near the halfway line and playing a neat one-two with Jota before releasing Nunez.

McConnell, who was handed his senior debut in the latter stages of a 3-0 victory over Brentford in November, delivered a peach of a cross for Jones' opener and was calm in possession until his enforced departure late in the second half.

Norwich, who were without top scorer Jon Rowe because of injury, struggled to test Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson despite some neat passages of build-up play, with Gibson's goal coming from their only attempt of the first 45 minutes.

Jota's smart finish seven minutes into the second half allowed Klopp to introduce some fresh legs, with Andy Robertson coming off the bench for his first appearance since suffering a shoulder injury in Scotland's Euro 2024 qualifying defeat by Spain in October.

Sainz's fabulous strike gave the visiting supporters something to cheer about in the second period, but Van Dijk's header six minutes earlier had left the Canaries with too big a mountain to climb.

And Gravenberch's late header added gloss to a dominant display from the Premier League leaders, who can now look forward to another home tie against Championship opposition in the next round.

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