LONDON, United
Kingdom
– Liverpool’s youngest ever team proved coach Jurgen Klopp was right
to rest his stars as they reached the FA Cup fifth round with a 1-0 win against
third-tier Shrewsbury on Tuesday.

Klopp and his entire first team were all absent for the
fourth round replay at Anfield as part of the club’s winter break.

The Liverpool manager was criticised for disrespecting the
FA Cup, but his youngsters proved up to the task and their mature display was
rewarded when Ro-Shaun Williams headed the decisive own goal in the closing
stages.

Liverpool will face Chelsea in the last 16 at Stamford
Bridge on March 5 as they remain on course for a potential treble of the
Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Klopp had turned over the responsibility of leading
Liverpool to the club’s under-23 coach Neil Critchley, who also took charge
when the Reds played an under-strength side for their League Cup quarter-final
defeat at Aston Villa earlier this season.

On that occasion, Klopp had a better excuse for his absence
as Liverpool were in Qatar on course to win the Club World Cup.

This time, it was purely his decision to ignore the FA Cup,
but resting Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and company at least gave fans a
glimpse of the next generation.

With an average age of 19 years and 102 days, it was
Liverpool’s youngest ever starting line-up in all competitions.

There were seven teenagers, including 16-year-old Harvey
Elliott, while Pedro Chirivella was the oldest player in the team at 22.

Liverpool-born teenager Curtis Jones became the club’s
youngest captain at 19 years and five days.

Liverpool had blown a two-goal lead in that original
meeting, but several of these youngsters had helped stun Everton in the third
round and once again they showcased their potential.

Despite dominating possession, Liverpool almost fell behind
in the 58th minute when Shaun Whalley headed home, only to see VAR disallow the
goal for offside against one of his team-mates in the build-up.

Liverpool made the most of that escape to win it in the 75th
minute.

Neco Williams’ long pass looked harmless but Ro-Shaun
Williams tried to head back to O’Leary and, with the Shrewsbury keeper way off
his line, the ball looped over him into the empty net.

– Newcastle survive –

Newcastle reached the fifth round for the first time since
2006 after a dramatic 3-2 win at third tier Oxford.

Held to a 0-0 draw at St James’ Park in the initial tie,
Steve Bruce ignored the trend of Premier League clubs making mass changes in
the FA Cup as he sent out a strong Newcastle line-up.

Sean Longstaff opened the scoring with a superb curling strike
from the edge of the area in the 16th minute.

Newcastle striker Joelinton got on the scoresheet in the
30th minute, converting Longstaff’s pass for just his third goal since his
big-money move from Hoffenheim last year.

But Liam Kelly got one back with a fine free-kick in the
84th minute before Nathan Holland equalised deep into stoppage-time with his
first senior goal.

Allan Saint-Maximin saved Newcastle’s blushes with a
powerful strike four minutes from the end of extra-time to clinch a trip to second-tier
West Bromwich Albion in the last 16.

Wayne Rooney booked an emotional clash with his former club
Manchester United as second tier Derby cruised to a 4-2 win over Northampton at
Pride Park.

Rooney scored Derby’s fourth goal from the penalty spot to
wrap up an emphatic victory that brought the prize of a reunion with 12-time FA
Cup winners United.

The former England star, who recently joined Derby after a
spell with DC United, spent 13 years with the Old Trafford club and won a host
of major trophies before returning to Everton in 2017.

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