Not even VAR can save the Merseysiders from losing their best chance of winning silverware this term…
Liverpool have been knocked out of the FA Cup at the fourth round stage for the third successive season after an incident-packed 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at Anfield.
The Reds were poor defensively at decisive moments as the usually profligate Baggies, minus regular attacking focal point Salomón Rondón, found the net with ease.
James Rodriguez was the beneficiary on two occasions, while Joël Matip provided an injury-time own-goal, as the visitors remarkably went into the break 3-1 in front.
The scoreline only tells a fraction of the story though with West Brom also seeing VAR deny them another goal because of off-side and, after a lengthy delay whilst referee Craig Pawson consulted a touchline monitor, hand the hosts a penalty, which Roberto Firmino hit against the bar.
The Brazilian had earlier given Liverpool the lead inside five minutes with a delightful chip but it lasted just 71 seconds as an unchecked Rodriguez notched his first of the afternoon.
With Matip’s own-goal also requiring a VAR inspection, the opening half was a lengthy, dramatic and at times bewildering experience for all involved, but ultimately the correct decision was reached on each occasion.
The second half was far less eventful but not without significant moments as the men in red constantly pushed for a way back into the game.
Mohamed Salah reduced the arrears with 12 minutes to go but, despite a flurry of late efforts and a couple of West Brom players visibly struggling with injuries, Jürgen Klopp‘s side failed to force a replay.
The defeat ends Liverpool’s 19-match unbeaten home run, while the Baggies became the first opposing team since Real Madrid in October 2014 to score three goals in a first half at Anfield.
With the result following on from a shock 1-0 Premier League defeat to bottom-side Swansea City on Monday night there are worrying signs that Liverpool’s previously promising season is beginning to unravel.
Analysing the encounter at his post-match press conference, an honest Klopp pulled no punches, saying: “In the decisive parts of the game around the goals it was poor. Bad defending. Bad defending most of the time means taking the wrong decision, but we scored a fantastic first goal.
“We go 1-0 up which is perfect in a game like this usually, but then it felt like it was a second later we conceded a goal. I think it was a minute, but if you take away the celebrations it was probably a second.
“Long ball but we win the first one, then open ball and we lose that challenge when we could have shot the ball somewhere, into the stand or whatever and then it’s done. We lose the second challenge as well and then the disaster starts, if you want, with the run of Rodriguez and a fantastic finish.
“Second goal, similar; Rodriguez alone in the box, which makes absolutely no sense. We lose him in midfield, they pass the ball to the side, we don’t feel the responsibility in this situation obviously and then he can score a second one.
“The third one was unbelievable because it’s really easy to defend, you only have to push up then Craig Dawson is 100 per cent offside, but he wasn’t. When you saw his celebration, it looked like ‘what can I do? If they leave me alone then I have to use the chance.’
“Missing the penalty, not sure, probably would have helped, but we missed it and then we tried in the second half of course. We changed the system three or four times today. We scored late and then how it is in a game like this, we tried, we pushed, but in the end they defend, big hearts and try everything.
“They deserved it, to be honest. I don’t like to say it but it’s the truth, West Brom deserved it so compliments to Alan Pardew and his side.”
The Reds don’t have long to lick their wounds with a league trip to Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night fast approaching.
So that’s what both we and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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