West Brom evict Liverpool from FA Cup, beat them 3 – 2

Roberto Firmino celebrates his goal for Liverpool
Roberto Firmino celebrates his goal for Liverpool

THE complete shambles of VAR should not let Jurgen Klopp off the hook.

It was a historic night for the Video Assistant Referee as Craig Pawson reviewed a decision on a pitch-side screen for the first time.

There was also a goal chalked out for offside thanks to the man sat near Heathrow watching replays on a screen.

Players were shamefully appealing to Pawson to check decisions and in the end the most important people – the fans at Anfield – were the ones kept in the dark.

It was only the sixth game of VAR in this country and there are clearly massive early issues to overcome.

But teething problems should not be case for Klopp after more than two years in this job.

He puts a team out against Prem leaders Manchester City a fortnight ago and it looks like they should be challenging for the title.

Rodriguez scores for West Brom
Rodriguez scores for West Brom

Then he plays the bottom two teams in the top-flight and it is clear why they are nowhere near finishing top of the pile after 28 years.

Klopp’s teams look so good going forward, just look at Roberto Firmino’s beautiful opener.

But they are woeful at the back even with £75million spent on Virgil van Dijk.

Jay Rodriguez took advantage twice and then Craig Dawson’s shot was diverted in by Joel Matip to give Alan Pardew’s men a half-time lead.

Mo Salah pulled one back but it was a defeat to add to their loss at Swansea last Monday – and no trip to Wembley this season for Klopp.

He has been knocked out at the fourth-round stage in his three straight seasons now, last year after fielding a weakened team against Wolves.

The German certainly took yesterday’s tie seriously judging by his line-up.

Firmino, Salah and Sadio Mane led the attack and there was no place for Daniel Sturridge on the bench.

And it looked like being a straightforward evening when they took the lead in style.

Baggies centre-back Jonny Evans had an Arsenal representative watching him ahead of a January move but the report back to Arsene Wenger will include his gaffe for the opener.

Evans waited for Ben Foster to collect the ball and the keeper needed to save as Salah nipped it.

But the rebound dropped for Firmino and the Brazilian lobbed home off the post for his first ever FA Cup goal.

Rodriguez had Pards’ lads level a minute later when he slammed into the top corner after Gini Wijnaldum lost the ball.

It was a powerful finish and had the hallmarks of the late Cyrille Regis, whose name was chanted by both sets of supporters.

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And Rodriguez, who shook off ‘flu to play, had West Brom ahead when he got on the end of Kieran Gibbs’ cross – but a cracking tie was soon overshadowed by VAR.

The first incident to spark confusion was Dawson getting a goal chalked off after nodding in from a corner.

Gareth Barry was offside and stood in front of Kop keeper Simon Mignolet, so Andre Marriner sat watching the replay ruled it out.

Fair enough. Just a shame the scoreboard read 3-1 when play got under way and the crowd were baffled about what just happened.

Then came the biggest farce as it took almost FOUR minutes from a penalty shout before Firmino missed his spot-kick.

And it highlighted the massive problems VAR has.

Firstly, Salah appealed to the ref to review his tangle with Jake Livermore, which should be outlawed.

Pawson took an age to listen to VAR and then review it on a pitch-side screen.

Then Baggies players were all over Pawson when he awarded a penalty, with only Barry cautioned.

It was simply too long for fans to wait, 3mins 54seconds, before Firmino smashed against the bar to keep West Brom in front.

Pawson also checked an Evans handball and was asked by Hal Robson-Kanu to check if he had been fouled when he pulled up sharply.

There was nobody near the Wales forward, who was clutching at straws trying to get another player in trouble, as he was not touched.

VAR was used again when West Brom stretched their lead before the break.

This tie Grzegorz Krychowiak chipped the ball over and Dawson’s cross-shot was turned in by Matip, with Marriner confirming Rodriguez was not interfering at the far post.

Liverpool are no stranger to a comeback.

The Miracle of Istanbul saw them fight back from three goals down, more recently they were 3-1 down against Dortmund and won.

They could have gone further behind after the break when Matty Phillips went through and forced Mignolet to save.

And Dawson had another header chalked off. Another farce, as it was a blatant offside that did not need a check.

Liverpool’s comeback came after a triple-sub that saw Danny Ings, James Milner and Jordan Henderson introduced.

Salah pulled his goal back when he sidefooted in after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross was turned into his path by Firmino.

But there was no replay for Klopp’s men.

Steven Gerrard was working as a pundit and highlighted how fans would love that trip to Wembley in May. But it is top four or nothing now.

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