Norwich City were knocked out of the FA cup by a comfortable Liverpool side last night, Lukas Rupp scoring the Canaries’ goal in a 2-1 loss.
City had started with energy and quality when they visited Anfield 12 days before this tie, and history repeated itself in the opening exchanges.
Teemu Pukki had the first real chance of the match, Przemyslaw Placheta’s neat footwork resulting in an opportunity for the Finn, but he dragged wide of the far post from a tight angle.
The signs continued to look promising for Dean Smith’s side until the 27th minute when Takumi Minamino broke the deadlock. Kostas Tsimikas’ cross found Divock Origi, who teed the Japanese international up with enough space to smash home for 1-0.
The away side’s spirit appeared broken by that goal, and their newly slack press allowed the rest of the opening period to be played in their half. With no time to create any resemblance of an equaliser, Liverpool found their second.
Tsimikas’ corner was headed to the edge of the box by Ben Gibson, but his defensive partner Christoph Zimmermann couldn’t get out to Minamino quick enough to stop him rifling off the near post and beyond a helpless Tim Krul.
Having already scored thrice on three occasions against Norwich this season a third looked inevitable for Jurgen Klopp’s side at this time, but City held firm and even threatened Alisson’s goal in first-half stoppage time.
Milot Rashica took the bull by the horns in typical fashion and attacked the Liverpool box, driving just wide from 22 yards.
The Canaries started the second period in a similar way to the first, and could’ve been in on goal a few times had cooler heads prevailed. Such openings failed to materialise, however, and Smith seemed to have accepted defeat when he withdrew Pukki, Rashica and Mathias Normann in the 61st minute.
The recently crowned League Cup champions appeared to assume the same, however, and allowed City onto them. Dimitris Giannoulis’ cross found Josh Sargent, but he inexplicably skewed his header well wide from 12 yards out.
Sixteen minutes later, the visitors were back in the game. Sargent looked impressive in a central role and found Rupp 30 yards from goal. The German strode unchallenged towards the box and smashed beyond Alisson for an impressive if unlikely lifeline, halving the arrears.
Jon Rowe, who had come on for Rashica to provide a spark that had been seriously lacking, then forced Alisson’s only save of the match, driving forward and smashing goalward with his left foot but seeing his effort tipped over the bar by the Liverpool goalkeeper.
The hosts held on to ensure their spot in the quarter-finals, while Norwich failed to achieve what they did in 2020. Eyes will quickly turn to Saturday’s crunch relegation battle with Brentford, however, and avoiding injury in the cup will be a major bonus for Smith ahead of that crucial matchup.
Player Ratings: Krul 6; Byram 5, Zimmermann 7, Gibson 6, Giannoulis 6; Rupp 7, Normann 6, Lees-Melou 5; Placheta 4, Pukki 4, Rashica 6. Subs: Sargent 6, Dowell 6, Gilmour 6, Rowe 7, McLean 6.