Lucas strike in replay sees Reds through

- Agence France-Presse, PLYMOUTH

Jan 20, 2017-

Stand-in captain Lucas Leiva scored his first goal in seven years to earn Liverpool a 1-0 victory at fourth-tier underdogs Plymouth Argyle in Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay.

The Brazilian, playing at centre-back, met countryman Philippe Coutinho’s 18th-minute corner with a firm near-post header to sink Plymouth, who had drawn 0-0 at Anfield 10 days previously. A second-string Liverpool team could even afford for Divock Origi to squander a late penalty, the Belgium striker seeing his effort saved by home goalkeeper Luke McCormick.

“Every week in training we play old versus young and he is a top scorer for old, which is unbelievable,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of Lucas’s goal. “Maybe it wasn’t the most exciting game, but for us it’s very important as it’s another game for a few of the young boys, so that’s all good.” Liverpool, third in the Premier League, will host second-tier Wolverhampton Wanderers in round four on January 28.

Lucas did a jig of joy after he evaded the attentions of his marker to head the ball past McCormick at Home Park. It was his first goal since a Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest in September 2010. The goal also vindicated Klopp’s decision to put Coutinho in his starting lineup for the first time since he limped off injured in the 2-0 defeat of Sunderland at Anfield in late November.

Coutinho helped ensure the Premier League side dominated the opening exchanges of their contest with the League Two promotion contenders. Despite the setback of conceding, Derek Adams’s home side rallied and carved out a couple of chances themselves. But Loris Karius pulled off a fine save to tip away Graham Carey’s long-range shot before Trent Alexander-Arnold denied Arnold Garita with a smart interception.

It was far from plain sailing for Liverpool in a place known as Britain’s ‘Ocean City’ and Karius found himself placed under pressure as Argyle raised their game. Plymouth started where they had left off after the break, but Karius dealt comfortably with David Fox’s low drive. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge wasted a decent chance from a tight angle and Origi had a powerful shot saved by McCormick.

Klopp decided to withdraw Coutinho in favour of the club’s U-23 captain Harry Wilson. The Welsh youngster almost doubled the lead when he charged down McCormick’s clearance, but the ball sailed just over the bar. The visitors had a narrow escape when Jake Jervis saw his acrobatic volley graze a post. Origi should have doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Yann Songo’o felled Alberto Moreno, but his effort was superbly saved by McCormick.

Southampton set up a fourth-round clash at home to Arsenal after Shane Long’s stoppage-time goal gave them a 1-0 win over second-tier Norwich. Newcastle beat Birmingham City 3-1.

 

FA Cup Results

Plymouth    0-1    Liverpool

Newcastle    3-1    Birmingham

Southampton    1-0    Norwich

Published: 20-01-2017 09:11

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