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Liverpool 5 Norwich 2: Jurgen Klopp’s Last Dance begins in style as rampant Reds surge into FA Cup fifth round

THE LAST DANCE has begun with a quickstep into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Championship midtable Norwich were not allowed to lay down any banana skins at Anfield.

Curtis Jones opened the scoring

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Curtis Jones opened the scoringCredit: AFP
Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring Liverpool's fourth goal

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Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring Liverpool’s fourth goalCredit: PA

It was easy to forget what was what the ultimate goal of this afternoon was about.

Really it was Anfield beginning the long farewell to one of their own.

A man who put them back on their perch with the Premier League title and Champions League.

So ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was belted out with extra gusto on this occasion.

As it was Jurgen Klopp sat on the Liverpool bench with his head down trying to hold back the tears, many in the crowd struggled to do the same.

To witness this adulation you wonder why anyone would want to walk away from it.

From this club, from the work and foundations he has put down to achieve the success he has and now leave for his successor.

But when that bombshell announcement came on Friday that he was leaving at the end of this season he looked, quite simply, knackered.

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This great football club can give so much, but goodness me the enormity and emotion of it all can take it away too.

It was golfer Nick Faldo who once famously referred to ‘Life Energy’ and how we all have so much.

He believed the effort in overhauling a five shot deficit to beat Greg Norman for his third Masters in 1986 and sixth and final Major finished him.

The intensity of the challenged that has faced Klopp with Pep Guardiola down the road has done for him too.

It was perhaps fitting that he was facing his old Mainz teammate and best man at his wedding David Wagner on this occasion.

Ahead of kick-off they were chatting in the tunnel, Klopp resting against the wall.

As he walked down the tunnel after his players he looked like a weight had been taken off his shoulders and he was wondering how to move without it.

He was desperate to emphasise in TV interviews before kick off that his announcement has been made and now it is back to work.

Nah, that can’t be how it is viewed going forward.

The bizarre timing of the announcement means that every game every result will be judged on the back of it.

Any emotion on the touchline will be seen as just posturing to prove that the old fire still burns as strong ever.

In truth his has gone out, you could tell that with his video to the fans on Friday.

It is up to the players he has given so much, now to drag him over the final finishing line.

A line that could have still more silverware waiting beyond it.

Let us remember the nine years have not exactly been prolific and a few more trophies would be welcome.

Three Champions League finals is admirable but he brought the trophy back to Merseyside just once.

Compare that to three out of three for Bob Paisley..why was he never knighted?

There is the one title, although there may come an asterix alongside those 2018-19 and 2021-22 runners-up places if Manchester City lose in the footballing courts.

Chuck in an FA Cup, a League Cup, a World Club Cup and Super Cup and it’s a fair haul.

But it would be fitting to leave more in the Anfield trophy room.

There is a Carabao Cup Final to look forward to against Chelsea.

They are now in the last eight of this, and there is the Europa League.

But really, only the title for the current leaders would be a fitting send off.

The importance of this competition has long since diminished as the atmosphere in a rather subdued Anfield told us.

The lines-ups saw five changes to Liverpool and six for Norwich.

Wagner’s Canaries were poor opponents, constantly giving the ball away.

Liverpool took the lead on 16 minutes when Curtis Jones guided home a header from a fine ball in on his first start by 19-year-old James McConnell.

Norwich got a shock equaliser on 22 minutes when Gabriel Sara swung in a corner that glanced off Ben Gibson’s back and flew in.

Liverpool were back ahead on 28 minutes with Norwich sloppy.

Sam McCallum lost the ball on half way on the left and Liverpool were off. Conor Bradley’s final ball found Darwin Nunez who drilled the ball home.

It was game over on 53 minutes when Gibson could only head on a long ball and Diogo Jota volleyed home.

Klopp made three changes during the second half and two of them combined to make it four with captain Virgil Van Dijk powering home a header from Dominik Szoboszlai’s corner.

Norwich pulled one back when a sub of their own struck the goal of the game with Dorja Sainz’s letting fly with a 25-yard screamer.

So Liverpool advance to face either Watford or Southampton back here at Anfield.

But this really wasn’t about the win or the next round draw.

As much as the manager did not want it to be this was all about Klopp and will be from now until May.

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