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Liverpool 5-1 Oldham Athletic: 5 goal Reds advance

A 5 goal showing from Liverpool downed League One visitors Oldham Athletic Friday night at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup.

Kenny Dalglish made 8 changes to his side from the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City midweek, with only Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt, and Jay Spearing retaining starting positions. Captain Steven Gerrard made his first start since a 1-1 draw against Norwich City in October, while oft-injured LB Fabio Aurelio got his first 60 minutes of the season.

The Lactics got off to a quick start against the Premiership side, taking advantage of a shaky Liverpool back four and going close on numerous occasions. The League One side almost went ahead in the 14th minute when a header from Tom Adeyemi just went over the bar.

Oldham were rewarded with a goal in the 28th minute from Robbie Simpson, who hit a screaming, dipping volley past Reina.

Oldham’s lead was short lived, however, as 66 seconds after Simpson’s goal saw Liverpool equalize at the Anfield Road end. A shot from Jonjo Shelvey deflected off Craig Bellamy for the Welshman’s sixth goal in all competitions.

Oldham’s goal woke the Reds up, as the Liverpool controlled most of the match from there on out, including Bellamy’s deflection in. Bellamy could have had a second a few minutes later, but a ball played over the top by Maxi Rodriguez was just inches out of his reach.

A cross from Gerrard into the box saw Rodriguez tumbled over by Adeyemi in the 44th minute, resulting in a penalty kick. Gerrard stepped up to the spot, fired to his right and clipped the underside of the crossbar to give the Reds a 2-1 lead at halftime.

The second half got off to an entertaining start, as Oldham continued their fearless play with Jean Yves Mvoto shooting just wide for the visitors before Bellamy drilled over the bar from a clever flick on from Kuyt.

Liverpool got their insurance goal in the 68th minute on a cross from Bellamy. Bellamy, who’s overall play earned him Man of the Match honors, fired in a cross that was met by Shelvey for the 19-year-old’s first career Liverpool goal.

Substitute Andy Carroll one-timed a volley in the 86th minute from outside the area to give Liverpool a 4-1 lead. Stewart Downing, also starting the game from the bench, joined Shelvey in opening his Liverpool account by netting a rebound in stoppage time.

Sadly, there was an incident of alleged racial abuse towards Tom Adeyemi from a fan sitting in the Kop which overshadowed the occasion.  Adeyemi was running along the byline for a goal kick when he stopped, turned around and ran back pointing to someone in the Kop. The on-loan midfielder from Norwich was very visibly upset at the incident, and had to be calmed down by the official, Oldham players, and Kuyt and Gerrard.

No arrests were made on Friday night with both Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club vowing to investigate the incident. On Saturday, Merseyside Police issued a statement via Twitter on Saturday that a 20-year-old man from Aintree, Merseyside, was arrested on suspicion of a “racially aggravated public order offense.”

Liverpool will wait until Sunday afternoon to find out who they will face in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Starting XI: Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Aurelio; Spearing, Maxi, Gerrard (C), Shelvey; Kuyt, Bellamy. 

Subs: Doni, Carroll, Henderson, Downing, Adam, Skrtel, Flanagan.

Man of the Match: Craig Bellamy. Bellamy was excellent all game, finding space, using his explosive pace, and playing in great crosses. One of the few Liverpool players who actually played well on the night that resulted in a goal and an assist for the Welshman.

Needs to do better: Dirk Kuyt. Kuyt had a very good season last campaign, but this season something doesn’t quite seem right with the Netherlands international. His performance against Oldham, while putting in his usual great effort, was mediocre, particularly in comparison to his performances last season.

Player to keep an eye on: Jay Spearing. Filling in for the injured Lucas Leiva is no easy task, but Spearing has done well already. How he continues to play going forward in the season is worth keeping an eye on.

Side note: The play-by-play man for Setanta Ireland quipped, “No matter how bad Carroll has been for Liverpool, he’s still been better than Torres,” in reference to their respective Jan. 2011 moves.

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