Lucas Leiva scored his first goal in seven years to send Liverpool into the fourth round of the FA Cup at the expense of League Two Plymouth.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had to make the 293-mile trip to Home Park after they were held to a frustrating goalless draw in the initial meeting between the two at Anfield.
However, Lucas ensured the long journey was not a wasted one when he headed home Philippe Coutinho’s corner early in the first half.
The win should have been more comfortable for the Reds but Divock Origi’s poor penalty was comfortably saved by home keeper Luke McCormick.
Plymouth, who are 66 places below Liverpool in the football pyramid, were not overawed by their Premier League opponents and came closest to equalising when Jake Jervis hit the post with a scissor kick midway through the second half.
Liverpool’s reward for victory is a home tie against Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers on 28 January.
‘It is that long?’ Lucas ends wait
Brazilian Lucas has been at the club since 2007 but goals are not a regular feature of his game. The midfielder’s strike was his first since a 4-1 win against Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League back in September 2010 – 2,316 days ago.
That was when Roy Hodgson was Liverpool boss and Ben Woodburn, Lucas’ team-mate against Plymouth, was just 10 years old.
“It’s that long? I scored last week in training,” Lucas said after the game.
Despite the lengthy gap between goals, it was a neat finish by Lucas as he rose above the defence to power a header beyond McCormick’s reach.
“He is the top scorer in training,” joked Klopp. “I love this in football, everyone can cause problems.”
Close game, but Klopp rewarded for keeping the faith
Klopp named the youngest-ever Liverpool line-up in the club’s history for the first meeting between these two sides – a decision that came under some criticism as they struggled to break down their determined opponents.
The draw added another fixture to an already congested list for the Reds and, after a tough encounter with Manchester United in the Premier League at the weekend, Klopp gave the majority of those who played in the first game a chance to finish the job.
It wasn’t a memorable Liverpool performance as they struggled to put the game out of Plymouth’s reach. Origi had the best chance to do just that when Yann Songo’o brought down Alberto Moreno inside the box, but the Belgian, who has not scored since 14 December, hit an unconvincing spot-kick too close to McCormick.
Proud Plymouth switch focus to promotion
Plymouth are fighting for promotion from League Two. They are currently second in the division and produced a hugely impressive defensive display at Anfield to earn the replay.
As a consequence, there was an air of expectation in the build-up to the game that the Pilgrims could produce an upset, with excitement for the fixture high throughout the city.
Tickets quickly sold out as fans queued for hours to ensure they had the chance to be part of a potentially famous night for the club, while several iconic buildings around Plymouth were illuminated in green and white colours to show their support.
During the game, Plymouth fans produced a party atmosphere even after Lucas’ goal and their players responded by creating one or two chances to equalise.
Alberto Moreno struggled to deal with the combination of the impressive Oscar Threlkeld and Jervis down Liverpool’s left. And it was from there that the hosts produced their best chance in the first half.
Threlkeld got into space to cross low into the box, only for a well-timed Alexander-Arnold tackle to deny Paul Garita the chance to equalise from close range.
Jervis then shaved the outside of the post as Plymouth pressed in the second half, and although it was not to be in the end, the club are set to earn more than £1m from the two games with Liverpool. That could provide a significant boost to their bid for promotion.