Shrewsbury Town had their moment, a precious lead at Anfield that lasted all of seven minutes, but an inexperienced Liverpool found a mature response. Jürgen Klopp’s team ruined any fleeting hopes Steve Cotterill had of an upset as young Kaide Gordon, and the not-so-young Brazilian duo of Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, eased the Premier League hosts into round four, where they will host Cardiff.
“I don’t think it was a 4-1 game, more of a 2-1,” the Shrewsbury manager said. “I am very proud of our lads and very thankful for how Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp have been with us all day. Virgil van Dijk brought his shirt into our dressing room after the game, congratulated our players and shook hands with every one of them. He is top drawer and an absolute gentleman.
“We would have liked to have had more of a go at them but it was very difficult to get the ball off that triangle of Konaté, Van Dijk and Fabinho. We had them worried for six or seven minutes but that was it.”
A testing week ended with another complicated assignment for Liverpool, although it was one they ultimately navigated comfortably.
Klopp was free to lead the team again having been in isolation with Covid since before the draw at Chelsea. The Liverpool manager rejoined the group at their hotel on the morning of the game and with positive tests continuing to affect the squad, along with injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations, he was required to improvise with his team selection.
Four teenagers – the full debutant Max Woltman, Gordon, Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton – started in a side that included the experience of Van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Fabinho. That insurance policy was seriously examined in the first half by Shrewsbury’s disciplined and supremely well-organised game plan.