Liverpool’s FA Cup title defence over; Reynolds at Wrexham
Liverpool became the latest high-profile club to exit the FA Cup as the defending champions conceded a goal in the second minute of stoppage time to lose 2-1 at Brighton in the fourth round on Sunday.
Japan winger Kaoru Mitoma produced a brilliant piece of skill for the winner by feigning a shot to deceive two defenders and then driving a close-range finish into the roof of the net. It earned Brighton a come-from-behind win, which backed up a 3-0 thrashing of Liverpool in the Premier League two weeks ago.
Liverpool came close to winning a quadruple of major trophies last season, triumphing in both domestic cups, losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid and finishing second to Manchester City in the Premier League by a point. It’s only January but the Reds are out of the FA Cup and League Cup, ninth in the league and its only realistic chance of silverware this season is in the Champions League — where a last-16 matchup against Madrid awaits next month.
“We need to start winning games — it’s easy to say but hard to do,” Liverpool defender Andy Robertson said. “This season has been nowhere near good enough.
“I feel sorry for the fans, the way we’re putting on a show for them. We let them down again.”
Premier League leader Arsenal was eliminated by Manchester City on Friday, joining nine other top-flight clubs — including Chelsea and Newcastle — who were ousted in the third round.
Brighton was without Moises Caicedo after the Ecuador midfielder publicly declared his desire to leave amid reported interest from Arsenal and Chelsea.
And it was a closer contest than in the league, with Harvey Elliott’s 30th-minute opener for Liverpool canceled out by a flicked finish from Brighton defender Lewis Dunk nine minutes later. Dunk said he knew little about his finish, which came off a speculative shot from Tariq Lamptey from outside the area.
Mitoma, who played for Japan at the World Cup, is proving a revelation in his first season at Brighton, scoring or setting up a goal in eight of the team’s last 11 games.
“He’s come from nowhere,” Dunk said. “We’re just lucky to have him in our team at the moment.”
Wrexham — a fifth-tier team whose owners are Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney — takes on second-tier Sheffield United in the fourth round later.
Reynolds was pictured arriving at the Racecourse Ground for the game.
NO REPEAT SHOCK
Stevenage wasn’t able to reproduce its exploits from the third round.
The fourth-tier team that delivered one of the most stunning wins in the last 64 — beating Premier League club Aston Villa away — was beaten 3-1 by second-tier Stoke.