Liverpool produced a quick second-half blitz as they eventually beat a spirited and youthful Aston Villa side 4-1 in the FA Cup third round.
Villa, who named a team comprised of youngsters due to a coronavirus outbreak in the first-team camp, looked to be in for a long night when Sadio Mane scored after four minutes.
But the hosts grew in confidence and exciting young striker Louie Barry stunned the visitors just before half time. Liverpool prevailed, though, with the help of three goals in five minutes.
It looked as if the floodgates would open when Mane opened the scoring early on. The Senegal international headed past goalkeeper Akos Onodi for his first FA Cup goal in five attempts.
As firsts go, though, Onodi would not have wanted his opening touch to be picking the ball out of the net.
However, the 19-year-old redeemed himself with three important saves to keep it at 1-0. He made a quickfire double stop to deny Fabinho before saving Mane‘s powerful shot at the near post.
Later in the half, meanwhile, he got down well to palm Mohamed Salah‘s effort away.
However, despite Liverpool dominating for the most part, they could not increase their lead.
Amid the visitors’ pressure, Villa striker Barry had two threatening opportunities, bursting down the right flank before setting up another opportunity.
Villa confidence rewarded
And as Villa grew into the game, their confidence was rewarded.
After an incisive pass from Callum Rowe, Barry outmuscled Rhys Williams and slotted expertly past Caiomhin Kelleher.
Liverpool brought Thiago Alcantara on at half time and he had an instant impact, setting up Salah with a fantastic inside pass.
The Egyptian looked to have scored after another strong save from Onodi, however he was offside.
Liverpool kept coming, though, and after missing two chances in the first half, Georginio Wijnaldum slid an effort into the bottom right corner to put his side back in front. Like Mane, he netted his first FA Cup goal for the Reds.
Floodgates open at Villa Park
And after that strike on the hour-mark, the floodgates did open for Liverpool as Villa’s youngsters tired.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s introduction proved pivotal, the Switzerland international notching two assists in five minutes to allow Mane and Salah to score.
Roberto Firmino also came on for Liverpool and added another threat up top as Jurgen Klopp’s men continued to turn up the heat.
But despite the visitors adding no further goals, Villa’s youth had little in the tank to add further threats of their own.