Jurgen Klopp survived his first taste of the FA Cup as his Liverpool youngsters fought back twice to salvage a 2-2 draw at Exeter.
Tom Nichols and Lee Holmes had twice given Sky Bet League Two side the lead, the second goal scored direct from a corner which goalkeeper Adam Bogdan somehow allowed to sail over his head and into the far corner of his net.
Jerome Sinclair had cancelled out Nichols’ opener and then Brad Smith fired home with 18 minutes to go to deny Exeter a famous victory.
This had to be one of Liverpool’s youngest teams ever as Klopp gave senior debuts to Tiago Ilori, Kevin Stewart and Ryan Kent in a side which only had 34 Liverpool appearances between them in total this season.
And the Liverpool boss had to be happy with the performance of the youngsters and it was the senior players who were the one disappointing the Reds fans who had made the trip to Exeter.
Christian Benteke was once again nearly invisible. The one chance he did have forced a good save from Exeter ‘keeper Bobby Olejnik, but a striker with his background and pedigree should have buried the chance.
At the other end, Adam Bogdan once showed that he had no idea how to handle a high ball into the box. This goal he conceded was inexcusable, straight from a corner, when he flapped his hand over the crossbar but missed the ball completely as it swerved into the net.
But those performances were overshadowed by excellent displays from the likes of Brad Smith, Brannagan, Sheyi Ojo, Jerome Sinclair, and Ryan Kent.
There was a period for about 20 minutes when Exeter threatened to get a third goal that would have ended the tie. But with Tiago Ilori and Jose Enrique responsibly solid at the back, they were able to restrict Exeter to long-range efforts. After weathering the storm Klopp’s kids were able to get back on level terms and could have possibly stolen the game at the end.
The downside on the performance is that Liverpool must now cram another fixture into a busy January with an Anfield replay in the week staring January 18 following home games against Arsenal and Manchester United.
Afterwards Klopp said that he will give the kids another chance in the replay sayingL
“It’s difficult to have another game but we have two other games before it,” said the German.
“If the situation doesn’t change then we will play the same team or a little bit different with other young players. We will have to see what happens in the next games.
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