Takumi Minamino was the star of the show for Liverpool once again as they beat Norwich City 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Liverpool have arguably the best front three in Europe right now, with Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, and whenever all three are fit in big matches they will play. It’s a front three that many teams have to face and they deserve all the praise they received. But it can often lead to the supporting acts being overlooked.
Minamino is one of those having to play a supporting role to Salah, Mane, Jota and Roberto Firmino, barely even given crumbs to feed off when it comes to playing time. His arrival in January 2020 brought a lot of excitement, one of the top players in Red Bull Salzburg’s team and a star in Japan but things just haven’t worked out for him.
Unless you focus solely on the domestic cups. Because then, Minamino has been a star.
- Liverpool to win the FA Cup – 11/4
- Liverpool to win the Premier League – 3/1
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Minamino has played 2,038* minutes for Liverpool since joining in January 2020, with almost half of that time coming in the EFL Cup and FA Cup (986* minutes). And it is in those two tournaments that the Japanese forward has found his form.
Nine of Minamino’s 13 Liverpool goals have come in the EFL Cup and FA Cup, more than any other player at the club since his arrival. In fact, it’s more than twice as many as any other Liverpool player.
He was the difference against Norwich on Wednesday night, opening the scoring with a nice finish from close range after Divock Origi’s flick, reacting quickly under pressure. There was something particularly special about that strike, Liverpool’s 750th across all competitions under Klopp.
But the second was something special, a wonderful right-footed rocket after a corner had fallen at his feet, beating Tim Krul with sheer power. Norwich will be sick of the sight of him having conceded four goals to Minamino, also letting in two in the third round of the EFL Cup. But Klopp will only want to see more, and he wasn’t surprised with the Japanese forward’s performance.
“He did [make an impression] but I’m not surprised,” he told ITV.
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“Taki is an incredible player. I think it was the best game he had for us, in the second half the situation when he stepped inside with the little dribble, sets the ball up unfortunately I think Diogo slides.
“He played a super game and was a constant threat, kept all the balls. It was windy out there again so with these high balls, how he took them down, all these kinds of things that was really good.
“I’m not surprised, I’m really happy for him that he makes an impression. Without him we wouldn’t be in the quarter-final, without him we wouldn’t have been in the final of the Carabao Cup. Super guy and really pleased for him.”
Liverpool will now await the draw for their first FA Cup quarter-final under Jurgen Klopp, and first appearance in the final eight since 2014/15.