Liverpool once again approached the FA Cup on economy setting, only to find Shrewsbury much more full of fight than Everton in the last round. The Premier League leaders should never have looked back after being gifted a 2-0 lead through a bizarre own goal right at the start of the second half, but two-goal Jason Cummings led a stirring Shrewsbury recovery and with more composure in front of goal the League One side might even have won the game.
They certainly had the chances in the second half, though Shrewsbury will be happy enough with a replay at Anfield next week. Liverpool will be far less pleased with an extra game in a week designated for rest and must now question the wisdom of leaving out so many regular first-teamers. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were sent on before the end in search of a goal to settle the tie, though Shrewsbury were in no mood to allow that and a draw was the least they deserved.
A rousing, old-school atmosphere to a gripping game was the last thing that seemed likely when Liverpool went two goals ahead straight after the break. The stadium announcer had only just finished telling the crowd at half-time that anything could still happen while there was one goal in it, when 28 seconds after the restart Neco Williams sent over a deep cross from the right that never threatened to reach any Liverpool players but was neatly turned past his own goalkeeper by Donald Love attempting a far-post clearance.
Presumably the full-back’s intention was to put the ball safely out of play, though he hardly needed to do that when he was under so little pressure. Curtis Jones was in the vicinity, though not about to reach the ball and Williams must have been as surprised as Max O’Leary, the Shrewsbury goalkeeper, when Love’s first touch found the net.
Jürgen Klopp fielded essentially the same team that saw Liverpool through in the last round, with the addition of fit-again Fabinho in midfield and Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren at centre-back. That meant another runout for Takumi Minamino, who was involved in Liverpool’s first threatening attack when a Divock Origi shot flew narrowly past a post.
Minamino went close when he could not quite keep a header on target from a Williams cross, though it was the goalscorer from the last round who put Liverpool in front after a quarter of an hour. Advancing into the area to take Pedro Chirivella’s pass in his stride, Jones stayed calm and steadied himself before coolly slipping the ball under O’Leary.
Even with Love’s gift Liverpool did not quite get everything their own way. Adrián had to come a long way out of his area to clear a searching through ball from Sean Goss midway through the first half.
A minute later he was diving to his right to deny Shrewsbury an equaliser after Ollie Norburn slipped Shaun Whalley behind the visitors’ back line with a perfectly weighted pass. Whalley should perhaps have done better, in a situation similar to the one that had brought the opening goal, though Adrián was quick off his line to close down the shooting options. Norburn departed injured shortly after that, depriving Shrewsbury of one of their more creative players as well as their captain.
Minamino ought to have put his side further ahead before the interval, shooting over the bar with a clear sight of goal after the impressive Chirivella had pulled a ball back from the right, though Shrewsbury also had a decent opportunity when Callum Lang played in Whalley for a shot that rolled the wrong side of an upright.
After venturing upfield for a corner Aaron Pierre closed the first half with a shot that required Adrián to save, though the defender was not able to pack the same amount of power into his effort on the turn as he did when eliminating Bristol City in the last round.
Shrewsbury did not give up after Love’s own goal and with better finishing they might have pulled themselves back into the game before the penalty that signalled their revival. Everton supporter Lang had the chance to score his dream goal but managed to miss the target from the edge of the area, as did Josh Laurent from a similar distance moments later.
The arrival of Cummings seemed to galvanise the home side. It was from his pass that Yasser Larouci was adjudged to have fouled Laurent for the penalty and it was the substitute who put the spot kick away.
There was some debate over whether Larouci’s foul had taken place inside the box but Shrewsbury were not about to let that worry them and when Cummings scored a second after beating Lovren with ease on the edge of the area the day had its hero and the home side a fully merited reward.