Stalemate for Liverpool’s youngsters


Fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle shut up shop and kept the door firmly closed to earn a 0-0 draw away to Liverpool’s youngest ever starting XI in yesterday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Anfield while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur both won.

A frustrated Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Sunday. Picture: AP

Determined defending and unstinting effort kept League Two Plymouth in the game against a Liverpool side lying second in the Premier League, almost 70 places above them.

Spurs, eight-times FA Cup winners, took a long time to break down Aston Villa before winning 2-0 but Premier League leaders Chelsea had no such trouble against third-tier Peterborough United, winning 4-1 despite having John Terry sent off.

Middlesbrough also had a man dismissed but beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.

Liverpool, with a League Cup semi-final first leg against Southampton to come on Wednesday, made 10 changes from the side that drew at Sunderland on Monday and fielded five teenagers.

Argyle, spurred on by almost 9,000 noisy fans who travelled the 470 km to Merseyside, defended stoutly while showing little ambition to go forward and test a Liverpool defence in which Joe Gomez returned after more than 15 months out injured.

The visitors had only 23 percent of the possession, not managing a shot for 60 minutes and finally bringing a save from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius five minutes later.

The home side, however, had few outstanding chances despite 28 attempts on goal.

Sheyi Ojo, 19, missed with a header from six metres early on, 17-year-old Ben Woodburn was denied by Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick and when Divock Origi put the ball in the net he was adjudged to have fouled his marker.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, pictured, waited until just over an hour had been played before making any substitutions. He then sent on Daniel Sturridge for Emre Can and the England international immediately put a shot just wide.

Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino then replaced Ovie Ejaria, 19, and Woodburn, who had succeeded Michael Owen as the club’s youngest goalscorer earlier this season.

As the pressure increased in the last 10 minutes, Sturridge sent a weak header and a low drive wide, and McCormick clutched a deflection off a defender right on the line to earn a replay.

“I made the decision to make changes and name a young side – that’s life,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“With our other lineup it could be possible that the result was still the same. Not likely but possible.

“It was a good experience for the boys.”

The German agreed that Plymouth, lying second in League Two, were worth their draw, although he could not resist a dig at their defensive approach.

“Plymouth deserved the draw and the rematch,” he added.

“I don’t know how many people live in Plymouth. But it felt like the whole of Plymouth was in the 18-yard box.

“We needed to stay cool and patient. That’s the biggest challenge in football, when you’re playing against a deep-lying defensive side.

“We made our own problems. A game like this is not easy to make exciting. We had a young side so that’s difficult. We can do better and if we do better then we have a good chance of making the next round.”

At Stamford Bridge, Spanish international Pedro scored twice as Chelsea went through comfortably at home to Peterborough.

Tottenham, making nine changes, could not break down Villa until England midfielder Dele Alli appeared as a substitute for the final half an hour at White Hart Lane.

He helped another Spurs replacement, Frenchman Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, set up defender Ben Davies to score his first goal for the club in the 71st minute.

Son Heung-min doubled the lead with 10 minutes left. IOL

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