Curtis Jones netted an outstanding first senior goal to carry a youthful Liverpool side to an impressive 1-0 Merseyside derby victory over Everton in the third round of the FA Cup at Anfield
Top of the Premier League and through to the last 16 of the Champions League, Liverpool appeared to be prioritising their other commitments until Jones came to the fore.
Jurgen Klopp included new signing Takumi Minamino among a clutch of established names at Anfield but largely put his faith in young stars, who held their own admirably against an experienced Everton outfit.
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Adrian was required to make a string of saves in the first half, before the hosts took control of the second period and scored in stunning fashion through 18-year-old Jones with 19 minutes to play, extending Everton’s wait for a win at their bitter rivals that stretches back to 1999.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side should have led early on but Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate and Richarlison all shot too close to Adrian, who reacted instinctively on each occasion, while stand-in Liverpool captain James Milner was injured in attempting to prevent the first opening.
Although Jordan Pickford dived into a stunning, stretching save from Divock Origi shortly before the break, the striker appeared to be stood in an offside position, meaning the VAR would have intervened.
Liverpool stayed patient in pursuit of an opener following a strong start to the second period and their moment came when Jones traded passes with Origi 20 yards from goal and whipped a sensational, curling effort over the scrambling Pickford.
The England goalkeeper, who had saved from Origi moments earlier, was quickly worked again by substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Everton struggled to find a response.
Inevitable late pressure followed, but Liverpool held firm for a win that dealt a blow to Ancelotti in the early stages of his Everton tenure.