FA Cup: Shrewsbury Town 2 Liverpool 2 - Report and pictures
Shrewsbury Town are off to Anfield for the first time in their 134-year history after Jason Cummings struck twice in an unbelievable two-goal comeback against European champions Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders looked home and housed when they took a 2-0 lead 30 seconds after half-time as Donald Love’s nightmare own goal added to Curtis Jones’ early opener.
But sub Cummings netted from the spot before a cool 76th-minute finish earned Sam Ricketts’ Town a truly incredible replay.
Shrewsbury were the better team throughout and deserved at least a replay on a great occasion in the club’s history.
The replay, to come the week after next, was the last thing Klopp wanted for his world club champions and the Reds finished the tie with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino trying to force a winner but Salop were not to be denied.
Shrews had missed a host of chances before scoring as the superb Josh Laurent and Callum Lang were constant pests, but Scotland international Cummings stole the show in front of a packed stadium.
There could scarcely have been more of a buzz around the Meadow as fans began streaming into the ground more than two hours ahead of kick-off.
While Ricketts’ line-up for the big occasion did not leave too much to the imagination, there was a huge sense of intrigue around what side Klopp would name against the Reds’ League One hosts.
Superstars in Liverpool squad
The anticipation grew as star attackers Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, among the side's international stars, headed out the tunnel to inspect the Meadow surface.
As it were those two made up a star-studded bench including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita.
Klopp included Fabinho in his starting XI as the £40million Brazilian started for the first time since an injury against Napoli in November.
And with both in need of minutes after injuries, experienced centre halves Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip were both in from the off.
Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were the other first-team stars in a Liverpool side that also featured a handful of exciting prospects for the future.
A sense of disbelief surrounded home fans as Liverpool’s star-studded squad was announced.
Ricketts named a 3-5-2 not dissimilar from recent league games, with Merseyside pair Callum Lang and Shaun Whalley in attack.
Lang, an Evertonian, was on a revenge mission after Klopp’s youngsters dumped the Goodison side out last round, while Whalley, from a long line of Reds, was playing in the game of his life.
Full coverage of Shrews' cup shock:
- Town set for lucrative replay after cup draw
- Shrewsbury 2 Liverpool 2 – Player ratings
- Shrewsbury 2 Liverpool 2 - match report and pictures
- WATCH: Town fans left speechless after comeback
- Salop fans react to win on social media
- GALLERY: Shrewsbury v Liverpool fan photos
- Jason Cummings says he 'comes alive in the big games'
- Shrewsbury Town 2 Liverpool 2 - as it happened
- Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to play the kids in replay
The sell-out Meadow was a picturesque setting, with a red sky creeping over the top of the West Stand as excitement levels raised.
The noise that greeted the teams was on another level to what the Meadow is used to, with everybody in blue and amber keen to ensure Ricketts’ men were not overawed by the sense of occasion.
Shrews grow into game
With Ricketts and Klopp watching on, the League One hosts enjoyed a solid first 10 minutes. Shrewsbury were sharp into their 50-50 challenges, although the strength, pace and skill the visitors possessed was immediately apparent.
Town soon grew into the game and Lang and Whalley were, if anything, too eager on the shoulder of the defence and were flagged offside on a couple of occasions.
Josh Laurent’s Cruyff turn on a couple of Liverpool midfielders summed up a confident start, while Origi highlighted Liverpool’s ability with a sharp low strike just wide across goal from distance.
GALLERY: Shrewsbury v Liverpool match action
Town skipper Ollie Norburn took an early knock from Jones as the Reds tried to wrestle control. A Neco Williams cross from right-back was inches from Minamino’s head.
Liverpool momentarily silenced the Meadow as Pedro Chirivella’s stunning through ball sent Jones into the left side of the Town box and he slipped a cool left-footed finish beyond Max O’Leary.
The youthful class showed what Liverpool’s starlets were about but Shrewsbury, to their immense credit, were not deterred.
Just after the midpoint of the first half, around 10 minutes after falling behind, Ricketts’ men should have levelled.
Norburn, who was fouled in the process, picked out a superb pass to send Whalley racing through on Adrian’s goal.
Town’s number 7 almost had too much time and decided to aim for the bottom left corner but was denied by the Spanish goalkeeper’s strong outstretched right leg.
That was that for the in-demand skipper Norburn, who is heavily courted by league rivals Sunderland. He limped off shaking his head in clear discomfort and was replaced by Salopian veteran Dave Edwards.
The hosts were working tirelessly across the park to ensure as little room as possible for the fleet-footed red-shirted visitors to operate in.
Edwards, who failed to get a ticket as a youngster when the sides met at Gay Meadow in 1996, got immediately stuck in while Ethan Ebanks-Landell defended well on numerous occasion.
Shrewsbury improved as the half went on and didn’t want to hear the half-time whistle.
Fabinho had just seen off Whalley for a corner before a lofted Lang pass played in Whalley for yet another one-on-one opportunity.
The winger was forced to the left but still got a finish away, only to see it agonizingly wide across Adrian’s goal.
Minamino stabbed over when he might’ve done better but, despite the scoreline, Shrewsbury fans were delighted with the performance as the sides went in at the break.
Shocking second half start
Inspirational words from the club’s invited guest Cheney Joseph, president of the Grenadian FA, rang around the Meadow at half time.
But hopes and dreams turned into a nightmare just 30 seconds after the re-start. A Williams cross from right-back didn’t appear threatening but, in a bid to send it behind for a corner, Love got it all wrong.
The former Manchester United trainee wanted the ground to swallow him up as his cushioned backpass rolled inside O’Leary’s post.
But again Shrewsbury refused to be defeated. The impressive Laurent shot wide twice after bursts from midfield either side of a huge Lang chance.
He took a fine Scott Golbourne pass, sped away from the defence, before a bottom corner-bound finish was superbly tipped wide by Adrian.
Ricketts’ men were well on top. Lang was disappointed to be substituted off for Cummings - a decision that drew jeers from the home crowd - on the hour.
Still Shrewsbury pushed and soon got their just rewards. Cummings’ fine reverse pass was met by Laurent’s storming charge. Left-back Yasser Larouchi was covering but bundled his man down just inside the box, according to the referee.
Cummings kept his cool and slotted to Adrian’s left.
The roof came off the Meadow as Salop kept pushing with the Reds on the ropes.
O’Leary made a crucial save from distance to deny Origi against the run of play and 30 seconds later the unthinkable happened and Salop were level.
Liverpool defenders Lovren and Williams got in a royal muddle and Cummings pounced. He nipped it away, darted along the edge of the box and tucked a right-footed finish into the corner.
Cue bedlam in Shropshire. Fans looked around in gleeful disbelief. Klopp sent on Salah in desperation.
Origi found the side netting but it was Salop doing all the pushing as tired legs pounded on. Klopp, desperate to avoid the replay, sent on Firmino and he forced a stunning save from O’Leary and follow-up Williams defending kept the Reds out with a minute to play
Salah headed wide as the visitors applied some late pressure but Salop gallantly held on for their first ever trip to Anfield on a night nobody in Shrewsbury will ever forget.
Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):
O’Leary; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Love, Norburn (Edwards, 28), Goss, Laurent, Golbourne; Whalley (Udoh, 85), Lang (Cummings, 59).
Subs not used: Murphy (gk), Beckles, Hart, Walker.
Adrian; Williams, Lovren, Matip (Salah, 77), Larouchi; Fabinho, Chirivella, Jones; Elliott (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 71), Origi, Minamino (Firmino, 85).
Subs not used: Kelleher (gk), Hoever, Alexander-Arnold, Keita.
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 9,510 (1,684)