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Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: 5 talking points as Takumi Minamino brace seals FA Cup triumph

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Liverpool will be in the hat for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup following a 2-1 win over fellow Premier League side Norwich City.

The FA Cup has thrown up plenty of shocks this term, with three of the traditional ‘big-six’ eliminated from the competition already in Arsenal, Manchester United, and Spurs. Jurgen Klopp’s side ensured they did not join them and avoided a potential banana slip when Dean Smith’s Canaries made the trip to Anfield.

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The German had never taken the Reds beyond this stage of the competition before tonight but is now just one game away from a semi-final date at Wembley.

Takumi Minamino notched the 750th goal of the Klopp-reign to put the hosts in front after some composed footwork from Divock Origi 27 minutes in. The 751st came just 11 minutes later from the same source to make Norwich’s task near-impossible before the 40-minute mark. Lukas Rupp sparked some fear among the home faithful with 15 minutes to spare after he pulled one back for the visitors.

Here are five talking points from Liverpool’s comfortable fifth-round victory at Anfield.

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Klopp rings out the changes

It is a testament to the strength in depth Liverpool now boast that they could name such a talented side while also making 10 changes from Sunday’s Carabao Cup final triumph.

Just skipper Jordan Henderson remained from the Wembley win over Chelsea at the weekend as first-choice shot-stopper Alisson Becker regained his place from Sunday’s hero Caoimhin Kelleher.

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The Premier League table since Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool

The likes of Ibrahima Konate and Curtis Jones did their first-team prospects no harm with impressive efforts, the latter grazing the crossbar with a stunning effort inside the opening 10 minutes. Diogo Jota also returned to the starting eleven after he was deemed unfit to start the last outing and was a thorn in the side of the visitors early on.

Minamino’s stock rises

The Japan international has struggled to impose himself on games at times during his Liverpool career, but was at the heart of all things good for the hosts on Wednesday night.

Constantly showing for the ball from the first whistle, Minamino’s deft touches and relentless energy allowed the Reds to run the Canaries ragged at times. He was rewarded for his early efforts with a goal in the 27th minute after Kostas Tsimikas’ cross caused panic in the Norwich penalty area.

Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: 5 talking points as Takumi Minamino brace seals FA Cup triumph

 

Origi brought the ball down with his left before laying it off to Minamino with his right, who made no mistake as he finished emphatically beyond the helpless Tim Krul. Just 11 minutes later he found the net again with a stunning volley that flew in after cannoning off the upright.

The brace marked the 27-year-old’s eight and ninth goals of the campaign across all competitions, hardly a bad effort for a player starved of game time this term and may have played his way into Klopp’s plans for the upcoming Premier League run-in.

Reds quadruple hopes still alive

Remarkably, Liverpool could still potentially win all four competitions with just under three months of the season left to play.

Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: 5 talking points as Takumi Minamino brace seals FA Cup triumph

With the first piece of silverware on offer already in the bag, Liverpool have kept their FA Cup hopes alive and kicking with this latest win. The last time the Reds won the League Cup came back in 2012, in a season that saw them also reach the final of the FA Cup.

Klopp will be desperate to go one better than the club’s efforts from a decade ago but will be well aware there is still some way to go yet. Liverpool’s title rivals Manchester City also remain in the competition, as do third-placed Chelsea but the Reds currently look as good as any potential opponent.

Jones stellar showing scuppered

At the tender age of just 21, Jones is displaying more and more with each game that he has the ability to dictate proceedings in an attacking sense for the Reds.

Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: 5 talking points as Takumi Minamino brace seals FA Cup triumph

If he is not threating the opposition goal with what is quickly becoming a trademark right-footed curler, he is building attacks with his perfect pass selection. During what was a cagey 25 minutes before Liverpool eventually opened the scoring, it was Jones who looked most likely to pick the Norwich lock. However, his night was endured prematurely after Jones was forced off at half-time due to a thigh injury that saw Harvey Elliot take his place.

He is yet to earn a cap for England at senior level, but if Jones remains fit – with performances like his first-half showing surely it is only a matter of time before he catches the eye of Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate

Norwich can take heart from their display

The Canaries can use their efforts against a side of Liverpool’s stature as inspiration for their upcoming relegation dogfight.

Norwich put the hosts under significant pressure early on and Teemu Pukki should have arguably put his side in front but saw his right-footed effort bobble wide of Alisson’s goal.

Liverpool 2-1 Norwich: 5 talking points as Takumi Minamino brace seals FA Cup triumph

Though Minamino’s brace stunned them into submission in the immediate aftermath, Smith’s troops seemingly grew in confidence as the second-half wore on. So much so that Rupp fired home a fierce effort into the bottom-right corner of the net from just outside the penalty area after being handed far too much space by Joe Gomez.

Currently, at the foot of the Premier League table, Norwich can give themselves a fighting chance of survival with more performances like this against those around them.

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