FA Cup

Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: Player ratings as Reds ease into FA Cup sixth round

Sean Walsh
It was Takumi Minamino's night
It was Takumi Minamino's night / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages
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Liverpool's hopes of completing an unprecedented quadruple remain alive after beating Norwich 2-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday.

A heavily rotated Reds side followed on their Carabao Cup success at the weekend with another victory in domestic trophy action, securing their passage into Thursday's sixth round draw despite a late scare.

Norwich's pressing caused Liverpool some problems coming out of the blocks, but the first decent sight of goal went the hosts' way when Curtis Jones nearly found the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box, not too dissimilar to the strike that beat Everton in round three of this competition two seasons ago.

Dean Smith's side had a gilt-edged chance to go in front of the Kop down the other end soon after, with Teemu Pukki dragging a shot through the legs of Jones and wide of Alisson's goal.

Kostas Tsimikas and Takumi Minamino both had shots blocked as the hosts ramped the pressure up, and the latter gave them the lead after 27 minutes. The Greek left-back picked out Divock Origi with a deft cross after Diogo Jota pulled Christoph Zimmermann, Ben Gibson and Mathias Normann out of position, allowing the Belgian to unselfishly tee up Minamino to fire in Liverpool's 750th goal in the Jurgen Klopp era.

With half-time looming, Minamino grabbed his brace when Gibson's headed clearance from a corner fell to the forward, and he duly smashed it in at the top of Tim Krul's near post.

Joe Gomez nearly handed Norwich a route back into the tie with the final attack of the first half after skewing a diagonal ball, but Milot Rashica's strike went wide of Alisson's net.

The Canaries made another fast start after play resumed when Pukki slipped through substitute Josh Sargent, but the American's shot mirrored that of the Finnish striker's in the first half and sailed away harmlessly.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the outside of the post and Jota was continuing to cause Norwich trouble, with his fierce shot striking the arm of Gibson, though VAR ruled it was not enough to warrant a penalty.

A lovely whipped cross from Dimitrios Giannoulis found the head of Sargent just after the hour mark, but again his effort was wayward.

Norwich were in desperate need of sparking the game into life, and got exactly that when Pierre-Lees Melou found the net from distance with 15 minutes remaining.

Klopp was not pleased with this revelation and turned to the bench to throw Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz into the action, but Norwich came close to finding an equaliser immediately following their introductions. Canaries sub Jonathan Rowe skipped away from James Milner and fired towards goal, with Alisson providing a smart stop to tip the shot behind.

Diaz nearly picked out the top corner as Liverpool searched for a definitive winner, but the hosts didn't need one and they ran out with a 2-1 victory.


Liverpool player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Dimitris Giannoulis, James Milner
Milner was solid / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Alisson (GK) - 6/10 - Swept up diligently and his distribution was useful when Norwich pressed high.

James Milner (RB) - 7/10 - Made a decent impression of Trent Alexander-Arnold, playing high up the pitch and causing Norwich problems with his crossing.

Ibrahima Konate (CB) - 7/10 - Never really troubled but his passing was a bit iffy at times, though he has set his own bar high.

Joe Gomez (CB) - 5/10 - Similarly fine but could have made more of an impression in possession on a rare start.

Kostas Tsimikas (LB) - 6/10 - After a tough opening period, Tsimikas grew into the game and a booking for opposite number Byram meant he could attack with a bit more freedom.

2. Midfielders

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathias Normann
A fine performance / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Jordan Henderson (DM) - 8/10 - A masterclass from the base of midfield, breaking up Norwich attacks and distributing play so effortlessly.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) - 7/10 - Looked decent in patches but endured a largely quiet game.

Curtis Jones (CM) - 8/10 - Aggressive in his own pursuit of possession (whether Liverpool had the ball or not) and you always felt like he was on the cusp of creating something. Hooked at half-time with a thigh problem.

3. Forwards

Takumi Minamino, Dimitris Giannoulis
Minamino reigned supreme / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Takumi Minamino (RW) - 9/10 - A well-taken and well-deserved brace. He probably won't ever be good enough to be a regular at Liverpool, but at least he has enough quality to play games like this.

Divock Origi (CF) - 7/10 - Grabbed a lovely assist and was the supporting act in attack.

Diogo Jota (LW) - 8/10 - Found it hard to initially get at Norwich, but that didn't stop him tying them in knots all evening.

4. Substitutes

Harvey Elliott (CM, 46' for Jones) - 7/10 - Slotted in nicely and looked keen to make an impression.

Tyler Morton (DM, 60' for Henderson) - 6/10 - Didn't look out of place but that was the extent of his highlights.

Sadio Mane (CF, 84' for Origi) - 5/10

Luis Diaz (LW, 84' for Jota) - 6/10


Norwich City player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

FBL-ENG-FACUP-LIVERPOOL-NORWICH
Zimmermann's distribution was helpful / PAUL ELLIS/GettyImages

Tim Krul (GK) - 5/10 - Not really much he could do about either goal.

Sam Byram (RB) - 4/10 - Clattered Jota with a cynical foul to stop a Liverpool break, and the resulting booking forced him back into his shell after a strong start.

Christoph Zimmermann (CB) - 5/10 - His incredible range of passing was a notable asset but he didn't cover himself in glory for Liverpool's opener.

Ben Gibson (CB) - 5/10 - Largely defended with gusto but that wasn't enough.

Dimitrios Giannoulis (LB) - 5/10 - Pretty hard to score highly when 36-year-old Milner is having a stormer.

6. Midfielders

Mathias Normann, Curtis Jones
Normann endured a tough game / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Mathias Normann (CM) - 3/10 - Didn't provide much stability at either end. Like Jones in the Reds' corner he wanted to play the game at a higher pace, but that didn't suit Norwich as much as it did Liverpool.

Lukas Rupp (CM) - 4/10 - A tough game for the German but he was hardly the number one culprit.

Pierre Lees-Melou (CM) - 5/10 - Outfought and outmuscled in an unfair midfield battle, but picked out Alisson's bottom corner with a thunderous strike as his final action.

7. Forwards

Przemyslaw Placheta, Konstantinos Tsimikas
Placheta was brought off after nearly falling into the stands / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Przemyslaw Placheta (RW) - 4/10 - His most notable moment was when Tsimikas shoved him over the advertising hoardings on the verge of the interval, which ultimately forced him out of the match.

Teemu Pukki (CF) - 5/10 - Made great runs but often wasn't found, and when he was he fluffed his lines.

Milot Rashica (LW) - 5/10 - A couple of flashes of inspiration but that was it.

8. Substitutes

Josh Sargent (CF, 46' for Placheta) - 6/10 - Lively, but not necessarily dangerous.

Kieran Dowell (RW, 61' for Pukki) - 3/10 - Barely had a sniff.

Billy Gilmour (CM, 61' for Normann) - 5/10 - Brought some composure to midfield at least.

Jonathan Rowe (LW, 61' for Rashica) - 6/10 - Eager to impress and forced a decent save out of Alisson.

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