Klopp hails 'exceptional' Gordon as Liverpool youngsters beat Shrewsbury - ratings and analysis
Fabinho scored two of the goals that carried Liverpool through comfortably to the FA Cup fourth round but it was 17-year-old Kaide Gordon who added his name to the growing list of impressive youngsters emerging at Anfield.
Liverpool thus continued to successfully negotiate the combination of Covid and fixture congestion that has hampered them, like many other clubs, in recent weeks.
And, at the age of 17 years and 96 days, Derby-born winger Gordon became the second youngest player ever to score for Liverpool, second only to Ben Woodburn in 2016.
“That’s Kaide, in those situations, he’s really calm,” manager Jurgen Klopp said.
“I won’t say he will always score in those situations for the rest of his career but I’m pretty sure he will, more often than not.
“That’s him, it’s his nose for goal. He’s the second youngest goalscorer for Liverpool which is absolutely exceptional, especially when you beat Michael Owen!”
Klopp, back from his own spell out with Covid, was on hand to witness the fourth youngest line-up in the club’s history eventually coast to victory.
But at least Steve Cotterill’s League One minnows enjoyed a moment to savour when they took a first half lead, even if it only lasted for seven minutes.
It was a well-worked, if simple, 27th minute goal as Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s long ball found Nathanael Ogbeta on the left and his cross was turned in by Daniel Udoh from close range.
It was the result of poor defending by young Liverpool full-back Conor Bradley but the manner in which Udoh slipped between senior stars Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate will have been of far greater concern to Klopp.
It only took Gordon seven minutes to write his small part in the club’s history books after Bradley’s cross from the right picked him out and, after a poor attempted tackle by Josh Vela, the winger switched feet and rolled a perfect finish into the far corner.
The equaliser altered the tie’s momentum and Liverpool would capitalise just before half-time when Ebanks-Landell was judged to have handled as he came under pressure from van Dijk in leaping for Andy Robertson’s free-kick and Fabinho converted the penalty.
Having brought on Takumi Minamino at the interval, Klopp added Roberto Firmino off the bench just after the hour as he sought a decisive third goal.
And Firmino it was who scored it, 11 minutes from time, after Bradley pulled the ball back from the by-line and Konate’s mis-hit shot only reached the Brazilian who cheekily back-heeled the ball over the line from three yards.
Fabinho scored his second, and Liverpool’s fourth, with the last kick of the game, lashing the ball in from a tight angle following a Kostas Tsimikas free-kick.
“I don’t think it was a 4-1 game, I think it was a 2-1 game,” said Shrewsbury manager Steve Cotterill. “It ended up being a little bit tough on us but I’m very, very proud of our lads.”
The Covid chaos at Liverpool last week was compounded by a series of false positives that forced the closure of their training ground, Klopp revealed after the game.
The Reds locked out of training for two days, and Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Arsenal postponed, but the situation was exacerbated by misleading tests.
“We had what we thought last week was a proper outbreak and it showed up that we had a lot of false positives,” said Klopp.
“But still the rules are like they are so all these players who are false positives couldn’t play today or we decided not to play them.
“The only real positive came from Trent Alexander-Arnold and all the rest were false positives.
“So it was a really tough week because the boys couldn’t train because we had to close the training ground. The rules are if it is a false positive, it takes two extra testing rounds.”