Liverpool progress in FA Cup as Lucas laps up rare taste of goal action
Plymouth 0 Liverpool 1
A giant Cornish pasty was cooked up for Jürgen Klopp at Home Park, but thankfully for the Liverpool manager Lucas Leiva ensured his team did not make too much of a meal of their FA Cup tie.
The local delicacy, delivered courtesy of club sponsors Ginsters, was waiting for Klopp in a makeshift media centre to mark his 293-mile journey from Anfield for this third-round replay.
But the generosity was not reciprocated by Klopp and his players, particularly his skipper Lucas, who scored his first goal in seven years as the Premier League side finally overcome obdurate opponents who forced a goalless draw at Anfield in their first meeting.
"I think they made it very difficult for us," said Lucas.
"They are very strong physically and we had a lot of young players but it's a good experience and the main thing was to get through to the next round and we did it.
On his goal, the midfielder added: "I scored last week in training! It's good to score, I don't score many and I helped the team, that's the main thing."
Liverpool had never lost an FA Cup tie to fourth-tier opponents and, to guard against carving himself a piece of unwanted history, Klopp handed Philippe Coutinho a starting slot for the first time since he was injured in a 2-0 win over Sunderland in November.
The decision was rewarded in the 18th minute when Coutinho sent over a near-post corner that Brazilian compatriot Lucas evaded his marker and rose to powerfully nod past Luke McCormack.
It might have been a straightforward goal but Lucas, playing at centre-half, jumped for joy, and who could blame him because it was his first goal since he scored in a Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest in September 2010.
It was only thanks to a fine Loris Karius fine save that Klopp's team remained ahead at half-time as he tipped away a long-range efforts by Graham Carey.
Trent Alexander-Arnold then came to his side's rescue when his intervention denied Paul Garita following Oscar Threlkeld's delicious cross into the goalmouth which gave home boss Derek Adams hope.
His team started where they left off after the break but Karius dealt comfortably with David Fox's low drive before Lucas and fellow centre-half Joe Gomez raised local spirits as they failed to cope the home side's direct approach.
Divock Origi had the chance to put the tie to bed from the penalty spot late on, after Yann Songo'o had felled Alberto Moreno, but he was denied by McCormick's low save.
Liverpool were certainly given a good run for their money but can now look forward to fourth-round tie at home with Wolverhampton Wanderers a week on Saturday with their hopes of winning the FA Cup for the eighth time very much alive.
Klopp was more pleased with the result than the performance.
"The longer you don't score the more exciting it can get and you saw that when they started getting really direct, we are not used to it and they hadn't played too often together, the back-line," he said.
"Maybe it wasn't the most exciting game but for us it it's very important as it's another game for a few of the young boys, so that's all good."
Plymouth: McCormick, Threlkeld, Songo'o, Bradley, Purrington, Fox, Jervis, Donaldson (Tanner, 68 mins), Carey, Slew (Bulvitis, 80 mins), Garita (Rooney, 72 mins). Unused subs: Sawyer, Dorel, Fletcher, Rose.
Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Lucas, Moreno, Coutinho (Wilson, 65 mins), Stewart, Ejaria, Sturridge (Ojo, 76 mins), Origi, Woodburn. Unused subs: Klavan, Mignolet, Randall, Williams, Paulinho.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)