By Umarah Naz.
When Lucas Leiva scores for Liverpool, you just know that the universe is a little off kilter.
The last time such a rare phenomenon occurred was 2316 days ago, in September 2010, when we were all a lot younger and a little less grey-haired.
If you were strange enough to bet on a Lucas goal, it certainly wouldn’t be from a header. But that’s exactly what Plymouth Argyle had the misfortune (for them) to witness in Wednesday nights FA Cup replay at Home Park.
The golden locks of the Reds captain flew into action, with the help of his head of course, to power home a goal from a Phillipe Coutinho corner kick in the nineteenth minute. This saw Liverpool safely through to the next round to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield later this month.
It was a hard-fought battle against Derek Adams’ men who, for certainly the first-half of the game, employed much the same tactics as they did at Anfield two weeks before.
Jurgen Klopp stuck with many of the same youngsters as he did then but added a mix of experience and firepower with Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi to help get the job done this time around. All three, however, found it difficult to penetrate the Plymouth back line which, at times, consisted of every player they had.
Sturridge and Origi in particular had frustrating games despite the former trying to get himself into good some scoring positions, but let down by a mixture of some last-ditch defending, poor passes and lack of finishing. He should’ve had won a penalty in the twelfth minute when he was brought down by Oscar Threlkeld, but the referee was the only one who didn’t see it as one.
Origi had a poor game by his previous high standards which was capped off by his penalty being saved four minutes from time. A weak shot, with neither height, power or width gave McCormick an easy save to make.
Coutinho looked bright trying his usual trickery to create chances, although his predictability to cut in on his right foot in front of goal often gave the Plymouth defenders a heads-up. More importantly, it was another hour of football accumulated on his way back to full match fitness. And Liverpool finally have hope when corners are given as he’s undoubtedly the best we have at taking them, as last night proved.
Where the attack may have strived in vain, the defence did very well against a Plymouth side that did eventually come out and attack in the second-half.
Klopp persevered with the same back four and goalkeeper with Trent Alexander-Arnold shining the brightest among them all. The call-up against Manchester United clearly did him the world of good, as he looked to push forward and was instrumental in keeping Plymouth out at the other end too. Most notably, he got a vital foot in to deny Arnold Garita a goal while, moments later, a clever dink into the box was blocked before it could reach Sturridge who was waiting to pounce.
Plymouth had their own chances to equalise and cause Liverpool problems. A first-half long range effort by Graham Carey called Karius into action, but it was after the break that saw the home team looking to be positive. Their enthusiasm was almost rewarded in the seventy-fifth minute, but Jake Jervis’ volley was denied by the outside of the post. Agonising for the League Two side.
Liverpool could have added a second earlier through Harry Wilson — making his first-team debut when he replaced Coutinho — when McCormick kicked the ball out only for it to hit Wilson but sail over the bar. The dream debut was denied the youngster. Nevertheless, Liverpool managed to hold on despite Plymouth being galvanised by Origi’s late penalty miss and four minutes of injury time. But it wasn’t to be.
It wasn’t a great match to watch. But who cares? Job done. The majority of the first team were rested, the kids were able to learn more important lessons, Coutinho is edging back to his magical self and Liverpool live to fight another day.
It doesn’t have to be pretty in the early cup rounds. Who needs pretty when you have a Lucas goal to cheer? Who knows when the next one will come around? Cup final, maybe…
Lucas & Klopp on a rare goal
After the game, Liverpool’s goalscorer was reminded that the las time he scored was way back in 2010
“It’s that long? I scored last week in training! It’s good to score, I don’t score many, and I helped the team—that’s the main thing.
“They made it very difficult for us, fair play to them. They’re very strong physically and we had a lot of young players.”
His manager backed up these claims:
“He is the top scorer in training,” confirmed Klopp, who added:
“I love this in football, everyone can cause problems.”