Fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle FC shut up shop and kept the door firmly closed to earn a superb 0-0 draw away to Liverpool FC’s youngest ever starting XI in Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at Anfield.
Determined defending and unstinting effort kept the League Two team in the game against Liverpool FC, who are lying second in the Premier League, almost 70 places above them.
With a League Cup semi-final first leg to come against Southampton on Wednesday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had made 10 changes from the side that drew at Sunderland last Monday and fielded five teenagers.
Spurred on by almost 9,000 noisy fans who had travelled the 470 kilometres to Merseyside, Argyle defended stoutly while showing little ambition to go forward and test a Liverpool defence in which Joe Gomez returned after more than 15 months’ absence with injury.
For much of the game they had only 20 percent of the possession, not managing a shot for 60 minutes and finally bringing a save from goalkeeper Loris Karius five minutes later.
The home side, however, had few outstanding chances.
Sheyi Ojo, 19, missed with a header from six metres out early on, 17-year-old Ben Woodburn was denied by goalkeeper Luke McCormick and when Divock Origi put the ball in the net he was adjudged to have fouled his marker.
Klopp waited until just over an hour had been played before making any substitutions. He sent on Daniel Sturridge for Emre Can and the England international immediately put a shot just wide.
Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino then replaced Ovie Ejaria, 19, and Woodburn, who succeeded Michael Owen as the club’s youngest goalscorer earlier this season.
A lively presence, the Welshman had nevertheless been denied further scoring chances by Plymouth’s packed defence and tight marking.
As pressure increased in the last 10 minutes, Sturridge sent a weak header and then a low drive wide, and McCormick clutched a deflection off a defender right on the line to earn a replay.
Earlier Fulham reached the fourth round with a 2-1 win away to Cardiff City in a meeting of two Championship (second tier) sides.
The winning goal was bundled in by 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, an England under-17 international, making him one of the youngest scorers in the history of the competition.